Administrative Law-Primary Jurisdiction-Availability of Common-Law Reparations Remedy Following Commission Finding of Unreasonable Practice Under the Motor Carrier Act
The petitioner delivered goods to respondent, a common carrier by motor vehicle, for shipment from Buffalo, New York, to New York City, with the route of shipment left unspecified. The goods were shipped over the carrier’s interstate route at a higher tariff filed with the Interstate Commerce Commission rather than over its intrastate route at the lower tariff filed with the New York Public Service Commission. Alleging causes of action under the Motor Carrier Act and at common law, the petitioner brought a postshipment action in a federal district court seeking reparation of the difference paid. The court, after a finding by the Interstate Commerce Commission that the carrier’s routing practice was unreasonable, dismissed the action on the ground that the act neither provided a reparations remedy nor preserved any cause of action existing at common law. The court of appeals affirmed, on the same grounds, one judge dissenting. On certiorari, held, reversed, three Justices dissenting. The complaint, coupled with the Commission’s finding that the carrier’s selection of the more costly route was an unreasonable practice, states a justiciable common-law claim preserved by the “savings clause” of the act. Hewitt-Robins, Inc. v. Eastern Freight-Ways, Inc., 371 U.S. 84 (1962).