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ST. LOUIS-SAN FRANCISCO RY. CO. v. WILLARD MIRROR

April 25, 1958

ST. LOUIS-SAN FRANCISCO RAILWAY COMPANY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
WILLARD MIRROR COMPANY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John E. Miller, District Judge.

Plaintiff, a railroad corporation organized and existing under the laws of the State of Missouri with its principal office in the City of St. Louis, owns and operates a system of railroads in interstate commerce, extending in and through the State of Arkansas and the City of Fort Smith.

The defendant is a corporation organized and existing under the laws of the State of Arkansas with its principal place of business in the City of Fort Smith.

On January 31, 1958, the plaintiff filed its complaint against the defendant in which it alleges:

"On January 27, 1956, the defendant shipped from Paterson, New Jersey, two carloads of freight from Century Engineering Company, said shipment being received on the 4th day of February, 1956. There now remains due and unpaid on the legal freight charges therefor the sum of $476.61, including federal tax thereon. The defendant was duly notified of the arrival of said cars at their destination in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and it accepted delivery and received said shipment. Demand has been made for payment of same and the defendant has failed and refused to pay said claim."

On March 14, 1958, the defendant filed its answer in which the corporate status of plaintiff and defendant is admitted, but defendant denies that the action arose under the interstate commerce laws of the United States, and more particularly under the acts regulating commerce. It admits that it shipped from Paterson, New Jersey, two carloads of freight in January, 1956, which freight was delivered by plaintiff to and was accepted by defendant upon arrival at destination in Fort Smith, Arkansas, but denies that there is due and unpaid the sum of $476.61 legal freight charges, including federal tax thereon. Admits that demand has been made for payment of same and that it has failed and refused to pay the claim.

The defendant further answering alleges that the claim asserted by plaintiff is based solely upon the plaintiff's contention that a refund paid by plaintiff to defendant was paid through error, and that plaintiff's claim is based solely upon an implied contract to refund money paid through error and is not an action for the recovery of freight charges; that all freight charges upon the two carloads of freight were paid in full by defendant to plaintiff; that after the payment of the amounts demanded by plaintiff, the defendant filed with the plaintiff a claim for refund of a portion thereof, which claim was honored and accepted by plaintiff, and plaintiff thereupon repaid to defendant the said sum of $476.61; that plaintiff now reclaims said sum as having been paid in error.

The defendant further alleges that plaintiff's cause of action is not one arising under any act of Congress regulating commerce or protecting trade and commerce against restraints and monopolies, but is based solely upon the common-law right of recovery on implied contract for money had and received, and that this Court is without jurisdiction of plaintiff's alleged cause of action, the requisite jurisdictional amount not being involved.

Subsequent to the filing of the answer, the parties on April 9, 1958, executed and filed the following stipulation:

    "1. On January 27, 1956, the defendant shipped
  from Paterson, New Jersey two carloads of freight
  from the Century Engineering Company, said
  shipment being received by the defendant at Fort
  Smith on the 4th and 6th days of February, 1956.
    "2. The defendant received from the plaintiff
  freight bills covering the freight on the two
  carloads mentioned in `1' above, as follows:
(a) On February 6, 1956,  $1,005.88
  (b) On February 7, 1956,   1,112.23
                            ---------
                    Total   $2,118.11
  "Each of said bills were paid by the defendant to
  the plaintiff on the date received.
    "3. On May 10, 1957, the defendant filed a
  claim for refund based upon the above mentioned
  freight bills theretofore paid by the defendant
  and totaling $2,118.11, said claim for refund
  being in the amount of $442.26. Thereafter the
  plaintiff allowed said claim and issued its check
  on August 8, 1957, payable to the defendant, in
  the amount of $476.61, the amount of the
  defendant's said claim for ...

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