[Proceedings in Relation to Trusts, House of Representatives, 1888. Report Number 3,112, pages 576-577.]

32 NASSAU STREET, NEW YORK, March 2, 1885.


Receiver Cleveland and Marietta Railroad Company.

Dear Sir: My opinion is asked as to the legality of your making such an arrangement with the Standard Oil Company as set forth below.

The facts, as I understand them, are as follows:

The Standard Oil Company proposes to ship or control the shipping of a large amount of oil over your road, say a quantity sufficient to yield to you $3,000 freight per month. That company also owns the pipes through which oil is conveyed from the wells owned by individuals to your railroad, except those pipes leading from the wells of George Rice, which pipes are his own. The company has, or can acquire, facilities for storing all its oil until such time as it can lay pipes to Marietta, and thus deprive your company of the carriage of all its oil.

The amount of oil shipped by Mr. Rice is comparatively small, say a quantity sufficient to yield $300 per month for freight.

The Standard Oil Company threatens to store, and afterward pipe all oil under its control unless you make the following arrangements, viz.: You shall make a uniform rate of thirty-five cents per barrel for all persons excepting the Standard Oil Company; you shall charge them ten cents per barrel for oil and also pay them twenty-five cents per barrel out of the thirty-five cents collected from other shippers.

It may render the subject less difficult of consideration to determine, first, those acts which you cannot with propriety do as receiver.

You are by the decree vested with all the powers of receiver, according to the rules and practice of the court; are directed to continue the operations of the railroad and can safely make disbursements from such moneys as come into your hands for such purposes only as the decree directs, viz.: wages, interest, taxes, rents, freights, mileage on rolling stock, traffic balances and certain debts for supplies.

In my opinion this would not protect you in collecting freight from one shipper and paying it over to another.

All moneys received, therefore, from any person for freight over your road, must pass into your hands and there remain to be disbursed by proper authority. After an examination of your statute, however, I find no prohibition against your allowing a discount, or charging a rate less than a schedule rate to a shipper on account of the large amount shipped by him.

As you are acting, therefore, in the interest of the company, and endeavouring to increase its legitimate earnings as much as possible, I find nothing in the statutes to prevent your making a discrimination, especially where the circumstances are such that a large shipper declines to give your road his freight unless you allow him to ship at less than the schedule rates. Therefore, there is no legal objection to the making of an arrangement which in practical effect may be the same as that proposed, provided the objections pointed out above are obviated.

You may with propriety allow the Standard Oil Company to charge twenty-five cents per barrel for all oil transported through their pipes to your road, and I understand from Mr. Terry that it is practicable to so arrange the details that the company can, in effect, collect this direct, without its passing through your hands. You may agree to carry all such oil of the Standard Oil Company or of others delivered to your road through their pipes, at ten cents per barrel. You may also charge all other shippers thirty-five cents per barrel freight, even though they delivered oil to your road through their own pipes, and this I gather from your letter and from Mr. Terry would include Mr. Rice.

You are at liberty, also, to arrange for the payment of a freight by the Standard Oil Company calculated upon the following basis, viz.:

Such company to be charged an amount equal to ten cents per barrel, less an amount equivalent to twenty-five cents per barrel upon all oil shipped by Rice, the agreement between you and the company thus being that the charge to be paid by them is a certain sum ascertained by such a calculation. If it is impracticable so to arrange the business that the Standard Oil Company shall, in effect, collect the twenty-five cents per barrel from those persons using the company's pipes from the wells to the railroad without its passing into your hands, you may properly also deduct from the price to be paid by this company an amount equal to twenty-five cents per barrel upon the oil shipped by such persons provided your accounts, bills, vouchers, etc., are consistent with the real arrangement actually made, you will incur no personal responsibility by carrying out such an arrangement as I suggest. It is possible that by a proper application to the court, some person may prevent you in the future from permitting any discrimination. Even if Mr. Rice should compel you, subsequently, to refund to him the excess charged over the Standard Oil Company, the result would not be a loss to your road, taking into consideration the receipts from the Standard Oil Company, if I understand correctly the figures. There is no theory, however, in my opinion under the decisions of the courts, relating to this subject, upon which, for the purpose, an action could be successfully maintained in this instance.

Yours truly,


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