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and as well to adjust the rates to new conditions of traffic which arise, to make changes in the rules, regulations and tariffs which it prescribes for the government of railroad traffic in this State, and the various changes and amendments which have been so made during the past year will be found in the schedules hereto attached.
No serious controversy has arisen since the date of our last report in bringing about compliance on the part of the railways with the orders of the Railroad Commission with respect to the construction, repair and proper maintenance of their depot buildings. Many of these have, under orders from the Commission, been constructed at various places throughout the State; and wherever the public has been wanting in proper facilities in that respect, the Commission has caused proper buildings to be erected and such as would meet the requirements of the public comfort and convenience.
There are now pending a number of applications for the building of depots in different parts of the State, and many depot buildings heretofore passed upon by the Commission, are now in process of construction.
The most notable exception to this grows out of the conditions existing at this time in the city of Atlanta. It so happens that the State of Georgia owns the terminals in that city, over which passes a very large proportion of the passenger traffic of the whole Southern country. The depot building now upon the State's property is confessedly inadequate to the comfortable accommodation of the great volume of passenger traffic which passes through Atlanta over the various lines of railway which converge at that point.
It will be remembered that an application was made to the Railroad Commission by the Mayor and Council of the City of Atlanta, asking that the various railroads terminating in that city be required to furnish proper and adequate accommodations for their passengers.
In view of the great interest which the State necessarily had in the
maintenance of its present controlling position as the owner of the terminals in the heart of the city, and which all the railroads converging at that point would be bound to use for. their own profit and convenience, the Commission has not deemed it advisable to exercise its power to compel these companies to construct separate stations.
This state of affairs was brought to the attention of the last General Assembly, and a special commission was appointed by that body, of which Your Excellency is the Chairman, which commission was charged with the duty of advising or suggesting to the General Assembly some solution of this delicate and difficult problem. While it is of the greatest importance that the interest of the State in the maintenance of the integrity of its terminals should be fully protected, we beg to call attention to the fact that in the meantime no adequate provision has been or can be made under existing conditions for the comfortable and convenient accommodation of the public. Quoting from our last report on this subject, we beg to say: "The difficulty of arriving at a solution of this problem is only equalled by its importance. Leaving aside the question of depot facilities at Atlanta, a problem of the gravest importance to the entire State is presented, viz.: that of causing such improvements to be made upon the State's property as the case demands, in order to permanently insure the supremacy and value of the State's terminal property in the City of Atlanta, upon which will depend to a vital degree the permanency and increase in the value of the State road, which is of importance, not to any particular town or community, but to the State at large."
SOUTHERN EXPRESS COMPANY.
No complaints of such importance as to attract general interest have been lodged against the Southern Express Company during the past year. Those filed related almost exclusively to shipments between local points, and those cases have been adjusted to the satisfaction of the parties complaining.
WAR REVENUE STAMPS.
It will be remembered that soon after the passage by the Federal Congress of what is known as the War Revenue Act, this Commission chal
lenged the right of the Express Company to charge the shipper with the expense of the revenue stamp which that Act required to be placed upon each bill of lading or receipt issued by the Company. Upon hearing before the Commission it was ruled that the burden of this tax should fall upon the Company; and in accordance with the suggestions of the Commission, the Southern Express Company acquiesced in this ruling. Sometime thereafter certain non-resident holders of some of the stock of the Southern Express Company filed in the Federal Court a bill to enjoin the Express Company from complying with this order, and to enjoin the Railroad Commission from enforcing by suit compliance with its directions. In this bill it was alleged that the loss to the Southern Express Company from the enforcement of this order would amount anrually to the sum of $42,000.00; or, in other words, the order of the Commission made in the premises resulted in a saving to the people of Georgia of $42,000.00 annually by relieving them of this tax and imposing it where it belonged, upon the Express Company.
Upon the hearing of this case in the Circuit Court, an injunction was granted against the Railroad Commission to enjoin it from enforcing obedience to its order; but no injunction was granted against the Express Company, and it has steadily complied with this direction of the Commission pending the litigation.
From the order granting an injunction against the Commission an appeal was taken to the Circuit Court of Appeals, and recently a judgment in that court was obtained, reversing the order of the Circuit Court, and directing that the injunction be dissolved and the bill dismissed. Application has been made to the United States Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari from this judgment, and this cause will soon come up to be heard before that tribunal.
Attention is directed specially to this matter as it involves questions of great importance, and of great general interest to the public. In other states. which have no Railroad Commissions, or which, having Railroad Commissions, have not conferred upon them the power to make rates, this tax has been imposed upon the public and the express companies have borne no part of the burden.
The railroads operating in this State, on the contrary, voluntarily assumed the burden of this tax, and even on interstate traffic have paid it.
No complaint has been filed against either of the telegraph companies doing business in this state during the past year. The service performed by them, insofar as this Commission is advised or has power to control it has been in all respects satisfactory to the public.
In previous reports recommendations have from time to time been made by this Board, touching most of the subjects treated of below; and while the General Assembly has not heretofore seen proper to act upon the suggestions thus made, we trust that their importance to the public interest will be deemed sufficient warrant for our again calling attention of Your Excellency to them, in order that you may, if you see proper, press them the attention of the law-making body.
MANDAMUS AS A REMEDY.
In the present state of law, it seems that the only remedy afforded against carriers' refusing to conform to the rules and orders of the Commission is to be found in the institution of suits to recover the statutory penalties imposed in such cases; and we are of the opinion that this is manifestly an inadequate provision. Many of such orders involve matters of the greatest concern to individuals as well as to the public, a specific performance of the duties enjoined being indispensable to the enjoyment of their full rights under the law. The recovery of a penalty might have the effect of preventing a repetition of the wrong, but it neither compensates for past injuries nor gives assurance against like conduct in the future.
A few illustrations will suffice to demonstrate the propriety of so changing the law as to enable the courts, either by mandamus or mandatory injunction, in a summary way to compel carriers to specifically perform duties which they assume, or which are imposed upon them by law. instance, the public convenience or comfort might require the construction at a given point of a depot building which would cost many thousand dollars. This Commission orders its erection. The Company against which
the order is made declines to comply. Suit is instituted. The extreme limit of the recovery is five thousand dollars. It might be cheaper to the Company to litigate, even if eventually compelled to pay the penalty, than to comply with the order; and even at the end of the litigation the public would be no nearer getting the depot than when proceeding was commenced. A judgment imposing the penalty would not enjoin upon the Company the duty of building the depot. But the remedy by mandamus would be both speedy and effective.
Again, A manufacturer erects a plant alongside a line of railroad. disagreement arises between the two. The company removes its siding, or refuses to run its cars thereon for hauling the products of the manufacturer. Under the present law, his only remedy is by suit for damages; and even if he ultimately recovers, the continuing injury to his business will in the meantime have crushed his enterprise and destroyed his trade. Practically he is remediless.
The two illustrations cited are strong cases. They are not likely to, but may arise. They are stated for the purpose of emphasizing the necessity for an improvement in the remedial processes afforded by existing laws. In one case mandamus, in the other mandatory injunction, would afford a reasonable, just and adequate remedy.
The prompt and summary enforcement of the orders made by this Commission will be found to afford to the general public, and as well to individuals, the best protection against the practices which the Commission was designed to prevent. And we therefore recommend that for the enforcement of all orders made by it in the exercise of its lawful powers, this Commission in addition to the powers now vested in it be authorized to institute suit, either by mandamus or injunction, mandatory or preventive, in the Superior Court where the duty enjoined by such order is to be performed, or where the act to be restrained is being committed, and that service thereof be perfected as in other suits for tort or breach of contract, against the company.
VENUE IN DEPOT SUITS.
The Supreme Court has held that, as the law now stands, suit to recover penalties for failure or refusal of railroads to locate or construct a depot when ordered to do so by this Commission, must be brought in the Super