« PreviousContinue »
Opinion of the Court.
the doing or omission of particular acts, or it may be exercised through commissioners specially appointed for that purpose. The mode or manner of regulation is a matter of legislative discretion. When exercised through commissioners, their services are for the benefit of the railroad corporations as well as of the public. Both are served by the required supervision over the roads and means of transportation, and there would seem to be no sound reason why the compensation of the commissioners in such case should not be met by the corporations, the operation of whose roads and the exercise of whose franchises are supervised. In exacting this there is no encroachment upon the Fourteenth Amendment. Requiring that the burden of a service deemed essential to the public, in consequence of the existence of the corporations and the exercise of privileges obtained at their request, should be borne by the corporations in relation to whom the service is rendered, and to whom it is useful, is neither denying to the corporations the equal protection of the laws or making any unjust discrimination against them. All railroad corporations in the State are treated alike in this respect. The necessity of supervision extends to them all, and for that supervision the like proportional charge is made against all. There is no occasion for similar regulations for the government of other than railroad corporations, and therefore no charge is made against them for the expenses and salaries of the commissioners. The rule of equality is not invaded where all corporations of the same kind are subjected to like charges for similar services, though no charge at all is made against other corporations. There is no charge where there is no service rendered. The legislative and constitutional provision of the State, that taxation of property shall be equal and uniform and in proportion to its value, is not violated by exacting a contribution according to their gross income in proportion to the number of miles of railroad operated in the State to meet the special service required. Barbier v. Connolly, 113 U. S. 27; Soon Hing v. Crowley, 113 U. S. 703 ; Missouri Pacific Railway v. Humes, 115 U. S. 512.
There are many instances where parties are compelled to perform certain acts and to bear certain expenses when the
Opinion of the Court.
public is interested in the acts which are performed as much as the parties themselves. Thus in opening, widening or improving streets the owners of adjoining property are often compelled to bear the expenses, or at least a portion of them, notwithstanding the work done is chiefly for the benefit of the public. So, also, in the draining of marsh lands, the public is directly interested in removing the causes of malaria, and yet the expense of such labor is usually thrown upon the owners of the property. Quarantine regulations are adopted for the protection of the public against the spread of disease, yet the requirement that the vessel examined shall pay for the examination is a part of all quarantine systems. Morgan v. Louisiana, 118 U. S. 455, 466. So, the expense of a compulsory examination of a railroad engineer, to ascertain whether he is free from color blindness, has been held to be properly chargeable against the railroad company. Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railway v. Alabama, 128 U. S. 96, 101. So, where work is done in a particular county for the benefit of the public, the cost is oftentimes cast upon the county itself instead of upon the whole State. Thus, in County of Mobile v. Kimball, 102 U. S. 691, it was held that a provision for th issuing of bonds by a county in Alabama could not be declared invalid, although it imposed upon one county the expense of an improvement in which the whole State was interested. In such instances, where the interests of the public and of individuals are blended in any work or service imposed by law, whether the cost shall be thrown entirely upon the individuals or upon the State or be apportioned between them, is matter of legislative direction.
We see no error in the ruling of the court below upon the Federal question presented, and the conclusion we have reached renders it unnecessary to consider how far the obligation of the corporation was affected by the alleged amendment made to its charter.
JUSTICES BRADLEY and Gray did not sit in this case nor take part in its decision.
WIGGINS FERRY COMPANY v. OHIO AND MIS
SISSIPPI RAILWAY COMPANY.
APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS.
No. 27. Argued December 3, 1891. – Decided January 4, 1892.
A ferry company operating a ferry across a navigable river and, owning the
land at the landing and about the approaches to it, contracted with a railroad company for the use of the land for the purposes of its business so long as they should be used and employed for such uses and purposes. The railroad company in consideration thereof agreed to pay the taxes on the land, and not to interfere with the ferry company in respect of its ferry, and to always employ the ferry company in its transportation across the river. The railroad company entered upon the land, and laid down tracks and performed its part of the contract until it became insolvent, and a mortgage upon its property was foreclosed. The property was purchased by a new railway company, which continued to carry o
the business as it had been carried on before, but without making any new contract, or any special agreement for rent. After continuing to carry on the business in this way for some time, the railway company diverted a portion of its transportation across the river to other carriers. Subsequently a further diversion was made, and then the company became insolvent, and a receiver was appointed. This officer also continued to carry on the business, and without making any special agreement: but eventually he wholly diverted the business and removed all the rails and tracks from the premises. The ferry company then intervened in the suit against the railway company in which a receiver had been appointed, claiming to recover compensation for the use of its property by the railway company and by the receiver, and for the value of the materials removed from the premises when possession was surrendered. The court below dismissed this petition and allowed an appeal. Held, (1) That the contract did not create the relation of landlord and tenant;
that no rent having been reserved, or claimed, or paid during the whole occupation, the conduct of the parties was inconsistent with such a relation; and that under such circumstances such a relation
would not be implied; (2) That the railway company, under the circumstances, acquired an equi
table estate in the premises of like character with the legal estate previously held by the railroad company; and that both parties
were equitably estopped from denying that such was the case; (3) That the ferry company having, up to the argument in this court,
conducted the litigation solely on the theory that it was entitled
Statement of the Case.
as landlord to recover the rental value of the premises in question, this presented a serious obstacle in the way of doing sub
stantial justice between the parties; but, (4) That a mistaken view of one's rights or remedies should not be per
mitted wholly to defeat a claim founded upon principles of equity and justice, and if the pleadings can be so amended as to admit proof of such claim, and such amendment does not introduce a new cause of action, though it may set up a new measure of damages, or work a real hardship to the party defendant, it is within the discretion, even of the appellate court, to permit such amend
ment to be made; (5) That the ferry company was not entitled to recover the value of the
rails removed by the receiver. It is not necessary that a party should formally agree to be bound by the
terms of a contract to which he is a stranger, if, having knowledge of such contract, he deliberately enters into relations with one of the par
ties, which are only consistent with the adoption of such contract. Where the judgment in a former action is upon demurrer to the declaration,
the estoppel extends only to the exact point raised by the pleadings or decided, and does not operate as a bar to a second suit for other breaches of the same covenants; although if the judgment be upon pleadings and proofs, the estoppel extends not only to what was decided, but to all that was necessarily involved in the issue. As between landlord and tenant, or one in temporary possession of lands
under any agreement whatever for the use of the same, the law is extremely indulgent to the latter with respect to the fixtures annexed for a purpose connected with such temporary possession.
This case was argued before six justices on the 14th of October, of the present term. On the 19th of the same month it was ordered to be reargued before a full bench. This was done on the 3d of December. The court, in delivering its opinion, stated the case as follows:
This was an appeal from a final decree dismissing an intervening petition, filed December 21, 1878, by the Wiggins Ferry Company in a suit for the foreclosure of a mortgage upon the property of the Ohio and Mississippi Railway Company. The petitioner was a corporation created in 1853 for the purpose of operating a ferry across the Mississippi River at St. Louis, Missouri. The object of this intervening petition was to obtain compensation for the use and occupation by the railway company, from July 1, 1862, to November 18, 1876,
Statement of the Case.
and by John King, Jr., receiver of the said company, from that date to February 20, 1880, of certain lands, the property of the petitioner, upon Bloody Island, opposite the city of St. Louis, in the county of St. Clair, in the State of Illinois. The Ohio and Mississippi Railroad Company (hereinafter called the railroad company) was a railroad corporation, and in 1851, was authorized by law to construct its road to Illinoistown, now East St. Louis, on the Mississippi River opposite St. Louis; and in 1854, was further authorized to extend its road from Illinoistown across Bloody Island to the main channel of the river. Bloody Island, as well as the land over which it could be conveniently reached, then belonged in fee to the petitioner. On April 1, 1858, the petitioner and the railroad company entered into a written contract, whereby the ferry company granted and conveyed to the railroad company the right to construct, maintain and use upon and over a certain parcel of land on Bloody Island, therein described, such tracks, depots, warehouses and other buildings as the railroad company should find necessary and convenient to be constructed and used for the purpose of its business, together with a right of way over an adjoining piece of land, with the right to have and to hold the same so long as they should be used and employed for the uses and purposes of the railroad, as therein specified, and for no other purpose, even forever.
In consideration thereof, the railroad company covenanted and agreed:
1. To pay all taxes on said parcels of land.
2. That the ferry company should never be hindered or interfered with in respect to its ferry by the railroad company, or by any other person claiming under said contract.
3. That the railroad company should always employ the ferry company to transport for it across the Mississippi River all persons and property that might be taken across said river either way by the railroad company, “to or from Bloody Island," either for the purpose of being transported on the railroad, or having been brought to said river upon said railroad, so that the ferry company, its legal representatives and assigns, should have the profit of the transportation of all