WIGHT v. U S(1897)
Sections 10 of the act, as amended by the act of March 2, 1889 (25 Stat. 855), makes the violation of any of the provisions of the act a misdemeanor and subject to punishment. On October 8, 1894, an indictment was found in the district court of the United States for the Western district of Pennsylvania charging the defendant with a violation of said section 2. The trial resulted in a verdict and judgment against him, to reverse which this writ of error was sued out.
In their brief his counsel make this statement of facts:
Hugh L. Bond, for plaintiff in error.
Asst. Atty. Gen. Whitney, for the United States.
Mr. Justice BREWER, after stating the facts in the foregoing language, delivered the opinion of the court.
Accepting the statement of facts made by the defendant as correct ( and there is nothing in the statement which makes to his prejudice, or omitted from that statement which would be to his advantage), we are of opinion that the verdict and judgment were right, and must be sustained. It is unnecessary to consider all the instructions given and those refused, or determine whether in those given there may or may not be some language open to criticism. In its general charge the court narrowed the case to the facts which, as stated by [167 U.S. 512, 516] counsel, are undisputed, and correctly stated the law applicable to those facts. Indeed, while the question of guilt or innocence was submitted to the jury and passed upon by them, it is one rather of law, than of fact; and, if the court properly stated the law applicable to the facts, then the verdict was right and ought to be sustained. With reference to all other matters, it is enough to say that our attention is called to no errors in the admission of testimony; and we see nothing in the instructions asked and given or asked and refused which could injuriously affect the rights of the defendant, or limit the specific interpretation by the court of the rules of law applicable to those facts.
It will be observed that, in order to induce Mr. Bruening to transfer his transportation from a competing road to its own line, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Company, through the defendant, in the first place, made an arrangement by which, for 15 cents per hundredweight, it would bring the beer from Cincinnati, and deliver it at his warehouse; that afterwards this arrangement was changed, and it delivered the beer to Mr. Bruening at its depot, and allowed him 3 1/2 cents per hundred for carting it to his warehouse. As Mr. Bruening had the benefit of a siding connection with the competing road, and could get the beer delivered over that road at his warehouse for 15 cents, it apparently could not induce him to transfer his business from the other road to its own without extending to him this rebate. During all this time it was carrying beer for Mr. Wolf from the same place of shipment (Cincinnati) to the same depot in Pittsburg, and charging him 15 cents therefor. Mr. Wolf had no siding connection with the rival road, and therefore had to pay for his cartage, by whichever road it was carried. His warehouse was, in a direct line, 140 yards from the depot, while Mr. Bruening's was 172 yards, though the latter generally carted the beer by a longer route, on account of the steepness of the ascent. Now, it is contended by the defendant that it was necessary for the Baltimore & Ohio Company to offer this inducement to Mr. Bruening in order to get his business, and not necessary to make the like offer to [167 U.S. 512, 517] Mr. Wolf, because he would have to go to the expense of carting, by whichever road he transported; that therefore the traffic was not 'under substantially similar circumstances and conditions,' within the terms of section 2. We are unable to concur in this view. Whatever the Baltimore & Ohio Company might lawfully do to draw business from a competing line, whatever inducements it might offer to the customers of that competing line to induce them to change their carrier, is not a question involved in this case. The wrong prohibited by the section is a discrimination between shippers. It was designed to compel every carrier to give equal rights to all shippers over its own road, and to forbid it by any device to enforce higher charges against one than another. Counsel insist that the purpose of the section was not to prohibit a carrier from rendering more service to one shipper than to another for the same charge, but only that for the same service the charge should be equal, and that the effect of this arrangement was simply the rendering to Mr. Bruening of a little greater service for the 15 cents than it did to Mr. Wolf. They say that the section contains no prohibition of extra service or extra privileges to one shipper over that rendered to another. They ask whether, if one shipper has a siding connection with the road of a carrier, it cannot run the cars containing such shipper's freight onto that siding, and thus to his warehouse, at the same rate that it runs cars to its own depot, and there delivers goods to other shippers who are not so fortunate in the matter of sidings. But the service performed in transporting from Cincinnati to the depot at Pittsburg was precisely alike for each. The one shipper paid 15 cents a hundred; the other, in fact, but 11 1/2 cents. It is true, he formally paid 15 cents, but he received a rebate of 3 1/2 cents; and regard must always be had to the substance, and not to the form. Indeed, the section itself forbids the carrier, 'directly or indirectly by any special rate, rebate, drawback or other device,' to charge, demand, collect, or receive from any person or persons a greater or less compensation, etc. And section 6 of the act, as amended in 1889, throws light upon the intent of the [167 U.S. 512, 518] statute; for it requires the common carrier, in publishing schedules, to 'state separately the terminal charges, and any rules or regulations which in any wise change, affect, or determine any part or the aggregate of such aforesaid rates and fares and charges.' It was the purpose of the section to enforce equality between shippers, and it prohibits any rebate or other device by which two shippers, shipping over the same line, the same distance, under the same circumstances of carriage, are compelled to pay different prices therefor.
It may be that the phrase, 'under substantially similar circumstances and conditions,' found in section 4 of the act, and where the matter of the long and short haul is considered, may have a broader meaning or a wider reach than the same phrase found in section 2. It will be time enough to determine that question when it is presented. For this case it is enough to hold that that phrase, as found in section 2, refers to the matter of carriage, and does not include competition.
We see no error in the record, and the judgment of the district court is affirmed.
Mr. Justice WHITE concurs in the judgment.