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GENERAL RAILWAY SIGNAL COMPANY v. COMMONWEALTH VIRGINIA AT RELATION STATE CORPORATION COMMISSION.

decided: April 15, 1918.

GENERAL RAILWAY SIGNAL COMPANY
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA AT THE RELATION OF THE STATE CORPORATION COMMISSION.



ERROR TO THE SUPREME COURT OF APPEALS OF THE STATE OF VIRGINIA.

Author: Mcreynolds

[ 246 U.S. Page 508]

 MR. JUSTICE McREYNOLDS delivered the opinion of the court.

Plaintiff in error seeks reversal of a judgment of the Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia which affirmed an order of the Corporation Commission imposing a fine upon it for doing business within the State without first obtaining proper authority.

[ 246 U.S. Page 509]

     The essential facts concerning business done as found by the Commission and approved by Supreme Court are these:

"The defendant is a corporation of the State of New York, having an authorized capital of $5,000,000. Its principal office and factory is at Rochester, N.Y., where it owns and operates a large manufacturing plant devoted to the manufacture of materials chiefly used in the construction of railway signals which it sells and constructs all over the world. It has a branch factory at Montreal, Canada, and maintains branch offices in New York City, Chicago, and San Francisco.

"By contract dated the fifth day of May, 1914, with the Southern Railway Company, the defendant agreed to furnish certain materials, supplies, machinery, devices and equipment, as well as all necessary labor, and to install, erect, and put in place certain signals and apparatus shown on the plans and described in the specifications, from Amherst to Whittles, Virginia, fifty-eight miles, and to 'complete the entire system and turn same over to the railway company as a finished job,' subject to inspection and acceptance, for $85,597. Similar contracts had been previously made and fully performed, one dated September 6, 1911, covering the lines of the Southern Railway in Virginia from Monroe to Montview, Virginia, thirteen miles, for $16,015, and one dated July 18, 1913, from Orange to Seminary, Virginia, seventy-six miles, for $112,428. The aggregate distance in this State covered by these contracts being 147 miles, and the total consideration being $214,040.

"The purpose of these signals is to promote safety of railway operation and they operate automatically.

"In order to construct these signals as required by the contract it was necessary to employ in this State labor, skilled and unskilled, to dig ditches in which conduits for the wires are placed, to construct concrete foundations,

[ 246 U.S. Page 510]

     and to paint the completed structures. The completed structures are along the side of the railway track, about two miles apart, and are twenty-two or twenty-three feet high. In the language of the witness, Moffett: 'It is necessary to erect the signal mechanism, the masts supporting the mechanism, the houses for protecting the relays, reactors, reactants and other similar electrical devices protected from the weather, then the transformers, high tension line arrestors and low tension line arrestors.' The completed structures are permanently attached to the freehold upon concrete bases."

We think the recited facts clearly show local business separate and distinct from interstate commerce within the doctrine announced and applied in Browning v. Waycross, 233 U.S. 16.

It is further insisted that as the amount of prescribed entrance fee is based upon maximum capital stock it constitutes a burden on interstate ...


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