APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES COMMERCE COURT
White, McKenna, Holmes, Day, Hughes, Van Devanter, Lamar, Pitney
MR. JUSTICE LAMAR, after making the foregoing statement of facts, delivered the opinion of the court.
There are many cases between shipper and carrier in which each insists that the other is bound to furnish service or facilities connected with the transportation of freight. The present record, however, presents an instance where both parties are contending for the privilege of supplying an article needed in the proper shipment of fruit -- the consignor claiming that icing is a necessary part of the loading, which he is authorized to supply; while the carriers insist that icing is a part of refrigeration, by statute made transportation, which they are bound to provide and for which they are entitled to collect reasonable compensation. The determination of these conflicting
claims necessitates an examination of the two methods under which, in warm weather, oranges are shipped from California to the East.
In what is called Standard Refrigeration, the boxes, of the aggregate weight of 27,200 pounds, are so placed as to leave spaces between them wide enough to admit of a free circulation of air chilled by ice in the bunkers. Subsequently the carriers put in a system of pre-cooling, under which after the cars had been loaded they were taken from the point of shipment to Refrigerating Plants owned by the carriers, where whole trainloads are pre-cooled at one time by means of blasts of very cold air driven into the car through and around the boxes. At the end of three or four hours the fruit is sufficiently chilled, the bunkers are then filled with about 10 tons of ice, furnished by the carrier, and the train is started on its journey to the East -- the bunkers being re-iced from time to time as needed at stations along the route. For this entire service the Commission held that the carrier's charge of $62.50 was reasonable.
A different method obtains where the icing of the car is done by the shipper at his own expense. In that class of cases the oranges are taken from the grove directly to a cold room having a temperature of about 33 degrees F. There the boxes are allowed to remain for periods of from 24 to 48 hours, and until the fruit is chilled to the center. When thus pre-cooled, the boxes are ready for shipment. A refrigerator car is then placed on the truck opposite the door of the cold room of the warehouse with which it is connected by a collapsible enclosed passageway, so arranged as to exclude the outside air, while at the same time allowing that from the cold room to enter and cool the interior of the car. Through this passageway the oranges are trucked from the warehouse to the car and, as they have been chilled to the center, the boxes are packed close together forming a solid mass weighing
,000 lbs., with a temperature of about 35 degrees F. The doors and vents of the car are promptly and tightly closed, the bunkers are immediately filled with unusually large cakes of ice, in order to reduce the rate of melting, and the fruit is then forwarded under a filed tariff which provides that re-icing is unnecessary, and that the shipper will make no claim for damage occasioned by failure to re-ice in transit. For their services in connection with such pre-cooled shipments the carriers were allowed to charge $7.50 but the Commission refused to permit them to charge for the ice needed to keep the fruit cool between warehouse and destination.
1. This ruling is attacked by the appellants, who contend that icing is a part of refrigeration, which the Hepburn Act*fn1 makes a part of the transportation they are bound to furnish upon reasonable request. They insist that in order to meet the duty, thus imposed by statute, they have been compelled at great expense to erect immense plants where trainloads of fruit can be cooled and where an enormous quantity of ice is manufactured for refrigeration purposes. They argue that, being bound to furnish all necessary icing and re-icing and having at great cost prepared to furnish the supply, it is not only just, but a right given by statute, that they should be allowed to provide all needed icing or refrigeration at a rate to be approved by the Commission.
Whatever transportation service or facility the law requires the carrier to supply they have the right to furnish. They can therefore use their own cars, and cannot be ...