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SEABOARD WORLD AIRLINES, INC. v. GRONOUSKI

June 5, 1964

SEABOARD WORLD AIRLINES, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
John A. GRONOUSKI, Postmaster General, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: WALSH

This matter comes before the court on a motion for a preliminary injunction on the part of plaintiff, Seaboard World Airlines, against the defendant, Postmaster General, in his official capacity. Plaintiff is certified by the Civil Aeronautics Board as a scheduled all-cargo and mail air carrier and operates no regularly scheduled passenger flights.

Plaintiff was granted authority in 1959 to carry various categories of United States Mail on its regularly scheduled overseas flights. The plaintiff alleges that this service has developed into a $ 4 million business during the preceding five years.

 Seaboard seeks to enjoin the enforcement of a new policy, implemented by the Postmaster General on May 20, 1964, pertaining to the transportation of overseas air mail.

 The Rules of the Post Office Department, prior to May 20, 1964, permitted the division of mail among certified air carriers to take into account various factors, such as departure and arrival times, regularity of performance, flexibility of schedules, and advantages of overseas connections. The policy permitted certain categories of mail to accumulate during periods in which combined passenger and cargo flights were departing until an all-cargo flight was departing.

 On May 7, 1964, the Post Office promulgated rules, effective on May 20, 1964, which changed this policy. The new rules provide that all categories of mail will be routed abroad by the most expeditious air service, without regard to type of aircraft used.

 Essentially, the effect of the new policy is to deprive the plaintiff of substantially all of its mail revenue, in that certain competing airlines fly at greater frequency using jet aircraft, whereas the plaintiff uses only turbine-powered cargo aircraft.

 The plaintiff airline seeks to enjoin the Postmaster General from operating under the new policy on the assertion that the plaintiff was not accorded any of the procedural rights guaranteed by the Administrative Procedure Act under the so-called 'rule-making' procedures of Section 4 (5 U.S.C. § 1003).

 The defendant asserts that the court lacks jurisdiction over the subject matter; that there is no invasion of a legally protected right resulting in an irreparable injury; and, an injunction would be injurious to the public interest by delaying delivery of the mail.

 Jurisdiction of this matter is granted by Section 10(a) of the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. § 1009(a). The clear and unequivocal language of the statute states:

 '(a) Any person suffering legal wrong because of any agency action, or adversely affected or aggrieved by such action within the meaning of any relevant statute, shall be entitled to judicial review thereof.'

 Section 1009(e)(B)(4) of the Act further states that '(the Court shall) hold unlawful and set aside agency action * * * found to be * * * (4) without observance of procedure required by law; * * *'.

 Additional statutory authority is found in 28 U.S.C.A. § 1339:

 'The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of any civil action arising under any Act of Congress relating to the postal service.'

 It would therefore appear clear that if the defendant's action in setting forth a new policy violated the rule-making provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act, this ...


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