Swift & Co. v. United States, 343 U.S. 373 (1952)

Author: U.S. Supreme Court

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Swift & Co. v. United States, 343 U.S. 373 (1952)

Swift & Co. v. United States

No. 282

Argued March 5-6, 1952
Decided May 5, 1952
343 U.S. 373



Appellant filed a complaint before the Interstate Commerce Commission against several railroads, alleging that the charges on direct carload shipments of livestock from out-of-state points to its proposed new plant in the Chicago Packingtown area, not on the line of any line-haul carrier, are (1) unreasonable, (2) unduly prejudicial to livestock as a commodity, and (3) unduly prejudicial to appellant as against competitors, all in violation of the Interstate Commerce Act. Appellant asked for the establishment of reasonable joint through rates for the Chicago Junction railroad and line-haul carriers serving Chicago, to include delivery of livestock to appellant’s industrial siding at its proposed plant, and not to exceed the line-haul rates then in effect at the Union Stock Yards and other points of delivery on line-haul railroads in the area. The tariff complained of involves a flat additional charge for switching carload freight to and from industrial sidings and team tracks. The Commission found that the switching charge was not unreasonable or otherwise unlawful as applied to livestock, and that establishment of the joint rates was not in the public interest, and dismissed the complaint.

Held: The order of the Commission is based on findings abundantly supported by the evidence on the whole record, and must be sustained on judicial review. Pp. 375-386.

1. Whether the 70-year-old system for the delivery of livestock into Chicago at line-haul rates should be displaced by another system which would further complicate operations in a highly congested area, and which would necessitate the use of properties and services not included when the present line-haul rates and terminals were fixed, is a question committed to the administrative judgment of the Commission. Pp. 381-382.

2. The burden of showing that the switching charges were unreasonable was upon appellant, and that burden was not sustained on this record. Pp. 382-383.

3. The fact that the rate is so high that appellant finds it uneconomical to use does not, in and of itself, establish unreasonableness of the rate. P. 383.

4. The contention that, because "dead freight" is delivered to appellant’s industrial siding at the line-haul rate, it is a discrimination against livestock as a commodity to impose a switching charge in addition to the line-haul rate for delivery of livestock to the same point cannot be sustained in view of the Commission’s findings as to the different and more complex nature of the switching services required by livestock, as compared with "dead freight." United States v. Baltimore & O. R. Co., 333 U.S. 169, distinguished. Pp. 383-385.

5. Appellant failed to sustain its burden of showing prejudicial treatment of it as compared with its competitors in localities other than Chicago, since it receives the same rates and services as others similarly situated. P. 385.

6. It is unnecessary to pass upon the question of the legality of a covenant which is said to be involved in this case, since it is not shown to have been controlling in any manner, nor to have been relied upon by the Commission. Pp. 385-386.


On review of an order of the Interstate Commerce Commission dismissing appellant’s complaint, 274 I.C.C. 557, a three-judge District Court sustained the Commission’s order. Appellant appealed directly to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1253 and 2101(b). Affirmed, p. 386.


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Chicago: U.S. Supreme Court, "Syllabus," Swift & Co. v. United States, 343 U.S. 373 (1952) in 343 U.S. 373 343 U.S. 374–343 U.S. 375. Original Sources, accessed February 3, 2023, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8ECIT6WQ3EYTFC6.

MLA: U.S. Supreme Court. "Syllabus." Swift & Co. v. United States, 343 U.S. 373 (1952), in 343 U.S. 373, pp. 343 U.S. 374–343 U.S. 375. Original Sources. 3 Feb. 2023. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8ECIT6WQ3EYTFC6.

Harvard: U.S. Supreme Court, 'Syllabus' in Swift & Co. v. United States, 343 U.S. 373 (1952). cited in 1952, 343 U.S. 373, pp.343 U.S. 374–343 U.S. 375. Original Sources, retrieved 3 February 2023, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8ECIT6WQ3EYTFC6.