Brief Fact Summary. Two railroad companies (Appellees) brought this action in the District Court for the Middle District of Florida to set aside the incentive per diem rates established by the Interstate Commerce Commission (Appellant) in a rulemaking proceeding.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. The Administrative Procedure Act (APA) states that none of its provisions limit or repeal additional requirements imposed by other statutes or law. Even though the Commission was not required to comply with Section:Section:556 and 557 of the APA, it was required to comply with the “hearing” requirement of the Interstate Commerce Act (Act).
A hearing in its very essence demands that he who is entitled to it shall have the right to support his allegations by argument however brief, and, if need be, by proof, however informal.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Was the Commission’s proceeding governed by APA Section:553 or by Section:Section:556 and 557?
Held. Reversed the judgment of the District Court and remanded to that court for consideration of Appellee’s other contentions. The Commission’s proceeding was governed only by Section:553 of the APA, and Appellees received the “hearing” required by Section:1(14)(a) of the Act. The phrase “after hearing” did not trigger the provisions of Section:Section: 556 and 557 of the APA requiring a formal hearing. Further, even where a statute does trigger that the rulemaking procedure take place “on the record after opportunity for an agency hearing,” thus triggering Section:556, subsection (d) allows the agency to proceed by submission of all or part of the evidence in written form if a party will not be “prejudiced thereby.” The incentive payments proposed by the Commission were applicable to all railroads across the board, so the action was of a legislative, prospective type, rather than adjudicative. The Commission’s procedure satisfied Section:1(14)(a) and the APA. Dissent. A hearing under Section:1(14)(a) fixing rates, charges and fees is adjudicatory, not legislative. The Appellees were not afforded the hearing guaranteed by Section:1(14)(a) of the Act and APA Section:Section: 553, 556 and 557. Concurrence. None.
Discussion. The Court interpreted the “hearing” requirement under the Act loosely, as not requiring the Commission to either hear oral testimony, permit cross-examination of the Commission witnesses, or to hear oral argument.