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ATLANTIC COAST LINE RAILROAD COMPANY v. STANDARD OIL COMPANY KENTUCKY STANDARD OIL COMPANY

decided: November 28, 1927.

ATLANTIC COAST LINE RAILROAD COMPANY
v.
STANDARD OIL COMPANY OF KENTUCKY

STANDARD OIL COMPANY, INCORPORATED IN KENTUCKY
v.
ATLANTIC COAST LINE RAILROAD COMPANY



CERTIORARI TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT.

Taft, Holmes, Van Devanter, McReynolds, Brandeis, Sutherland, Butler, Sanford, Stone

Author: Taft

[ 275 U.S. Page 261]

 MR. CHIEF JUSTICE TAFT delivered the opinion of the Court.

This case comes here for review on petitions for certiorari to the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit by both parties, allowed March 21, 1927 (273 U.S. 691). The District Court's opinion is reported in 13 F.2d 633; that of the Circuit Court of Appeals in 16 F.2d 441.

The case was begun by a bill in equity filed by the Standard Oil Company, a corporation of Kentucky, in the District Court for the Western District of Kentucky, against the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Company, a corporation of Virginia, to secure an injunction forbidding the defendant from charging the complainant for the transportation of gasoline, refined oil, lubricating oil, and fuel oil, from the cities of Port Tampa, Tampa and Jacksonville, all in Florida, to other points in the same state,

[ 275 U.S. Page 262]

     at rates of freight other than the lawfully established intrastate rates for such commodities.

The bill avers that since June 15, 1923, the defendant railroad company has refused to accept shipments of the complainant from Port Tampa, Tampa and Jacksonville, Florida, to other points within the state at intrastate rates, and has compelled the complainant to pay thereon higher interstate rates, which it has done under protest; that according to the records of the complainant it has already overpaid to the defendant, between June 15, 1923, and April 17, 1925, the sum of $63,000. The prayer is for a temporary injunction and that, if the merits of the case are adjudged in favor of the complainant, a permanent injunction be granted and the case be referred to a special master to determine the overcharges, and that a judgment be entered therefor with interest at 6 per cent. from the date the same were accepted by the defendant until paid.

The answer denies that the charges collected were for other than interstate business. A motion to dismiss was made, on the ground that the complainant had an adequate remedy, either at the common law, or under a special remedy provided by the Florida statute. This motion to dismiss was overruled by the District Court, Standard Oil Company v. Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Co., 13 F.2d 633; and while on appeal error was assigned for this, it does not appear to have been considered by the Circuit Court of Appeals, 16 F.2d 441, and is not assigned for error here. The jurisdiction rests on diverse citizenship of the parties and the only question before us is upon the merits.

The plaintiff maintains at Port Tampa, Tampa and Jacksonville large storage facilities, consisting of tanks and warehouses for receiving and storing gasoline, refined oil, lubricating oil and fuel oil. It does not produce or refine any of these products. Gasoline, refined oil and

[ 275 U.S. Page 263]

     lubricating oil it buys from the Standard Oil Company of Louisiana from its refineries at Baton Rouge, Louisiana, while the fuel oil it buys from the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey from Tampico, Mexico. These four varieties of oil products are brought into Port Tampa and Jacksonville in tank steamers owned and chartered by the sellers, and, with the exception of lubricating oil, the oil is pumped by ships' pumps from the steamers through pipe lines owned by the plaintiff into plaintiff's storage tanks at Port Tampa and at St. Johns River Terminal, Jacksonville, Florida. Lubricating oil is pumped from the tank steamers by ships' pumps into tank cars at Port Tampa, or at Jacksonville, and by them conveyed respectively over defendant's lines to plaintiff's storage tanks at Tampa, a distance of about nine miles from Port Tampa, or to Kings Road, a distance of about two miles from St. Johns River Terminal, near Jacksonville. All the products are purchased by the plaintiff to be delivered to it by the sellers at Port Tampa and Jacksonville, title not passing to the plaintiff until the products have been so delivered, settlement between the seller and purchaser being made upon the basis of the amount actually delivered into tank cars and tanks. The prices to be paid for gasoline, refined oil and lubricating oil are the current market prices in effect at the time the products are delivered to plaintiff at Port Tampa and Jacksonville. Fuel oil is purchased on yearly contracts at stipulated prices. The tank cars used by the plaintiff in its business are not owned by the railroad company, but are leased by the plaintiff and hauled by the defendant over its lines in common carrier service.

At Port Tampa, plaintiff maintains for the storage of gasoline five tanks, with an aggregate capacity of 110,000 barrels; for refined oil, storage tanks with a total capacity of 20,000 barrels; and for fuel oil, tanks with a total capacity of 127,000 barrels. At Jacksonville, it maintains

[ 275 U.S. Page 264]

     for the storage of gasoline, tanks with a total capacity of 162,000 barrels; for refined oil, storage tanks with a capacity of 40,000 barrels, and for fuel oil, storage tanks with a total capacity of 145,000 barrels.

Throughout Florida the plaintiff maintains 123 bulk stations where it has sufficient tankage and storage facilities for gasoline, refined oil and lubricating oil to meet the current needs of its customers supplied from such stations. These stations ordinarily get their supply of gasoline and refined oil from the storage tanks maintained at Port Tampa and Jacksonville, by means of tank cars. Very little, if any, gasoline or refined oil is delivered to consumers directly from the storage tanks at Port Tampa and Jacksonville. The gasoline and refined oils are delivered from the bulk stations to plaintiff's consumers by means of tank wagons. Plaintiff also maintains a large number of service stations in the State of Florida, which, in the usual course of business, are ...


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