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Bituminous Coal

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Citation Edit

Bituminous Coal, Tenn., Ky. & Va. to N.C., Tenn. & Va., 325 I.C.C. 548 (1965).

Factual Background Edit

Various railway companies proposed reduced rates on bituminous fine coal to certain destinations. Competing railway companies protested the action, and sought to introduce cost data evidence, which was the product of a computer. The protestants furnished the opposition with some explanation of the program used, and enough data to provide the respondents an opportunity to manually check the cost evidence. Respondents nevertheless objected to admission of the evidence on the ground that they were denied access to the source language of the computer program, which they wanted to check on their own computer to ensure its reliability. They claimed that this was a denial of their right of cross-examination.

Commission Proceedings Edit

The Commission first observed that computer-generated materials may be admitted as evidence, provided that the program has been made available to the opposing party. The court then held that as long as the respondents were furnished with enough underlying data and explanation to permit them to check the logic and accuracy of the program by manual computation, the other party was under no obligation to release the entire program, which represented a two- to three-year effort. Thus, respondent's objection was overruled.

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