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Statement of the Case.
judgments sought to be annulled was the value of the matter in dispute; consequently, the cause was removable so far as the
amount involved was concerned; (3) A Circuit Court of the United States in the exercise of its equity
powers, and where diverse citizenship gives jurisdiction over the parties, may deprive a party of the benefit of a judgment fraudulently obtained by him in a state court, if the circumstances are such as would authorize relief by a Federal court if the judgment had been rendered by it and not by a state court, as a decree to that effect does not operate upon the state court, but upon the
party. (4) Where a suit in equity is, in its general nature, one of which a Cir
cuit Court of the United States may rightfully take coguizance, upon removal, it is not for a state court to disregard the right of removal upon the ground simply that the averments of the petition or bill in equity are insufficient or too vague to justify a court of equity in granting the relief asked. It is for the Federal court, after the cause is docketed there, and upon final hearing, to determine whether, under the allegations and proof, a case is made
which entitles the plaintiff to the relief asked. Barrow v. Hunton, 99 U. S. 80; Johnson v. Waters, 111 U. S. 640; and
Arrowsmith v. Gleason, 129 U. S. 86, distinguished from Mougue v. Clair, 101 U. S. 551, and Graham v. Boston, Hartford & Erie Railroad, 118 U. S. 161.
The court stated the case as follows:
On the 20th day of April, 1885, the plaintiff in error, Mrs. Sarah E. Marshall, a citizen of New York, filed in the Eighth District Court for the Parish of Madison, Louisiana, a petition for injunction, representing that David Mayer, one of the defendants in error, had then recently obtained, in a suit in that court, a judgment against her for the sum of $127.50; that in pursuance of an agreement that judgment in one suit should be decisive of other suits, in the same court, between the same parties and relating to the same subject matter, judgments had been entered against her, in his favor, in other actions, twenty-three in number, for sums aggregating $3089.31. Each judgment was for less than $500.
The petition alleges that all the judgments were obtained on false testimony and forged documents, and that equity and good conscience required that they be annulled and avoided for the following reasons:
Statement of the Case.
“That your petitioner, as usufructuary of the plantation Cabin Teele, in your said parish, employed one Elijah Boyd as an agent on the said plantation to collect the rents and ship the cotton received ; that the said Boyd died in the year 1884, and that said Mayer, pretending to have a contract with said Boyd, by which your petitioner was bound to him as a furnisher of supplies in solido with the several defendants named in the suits herein before mentioned, brought said suits and made petitioner a party defendant thereto; that petitioner answered in the several suits that said Boyd, if he made any such contract as alleged, had no power, right or authority to do so; that a trial was had of the suit No. 607, and the said Mayer introduced evidence of the existence of a letter from your petitioner to the said Boyd authorizing him, the said Boyd, to make a contract by which her lien as lessor on the crops produced by the several defendants and other tenants on said plantation should be waived in favor of the said Mayer or of others as furnishers of supplies to said tenants; that upon such evidence so offered, and of the existence of which petitioner could not possibly be aware and of which she had no knowledge until subsequent to the trial, judgment was rendered against her in said suit and in the several other suits mentioned. Your petitioner shows that the said Boyd, who was an agent, with only a general power of administration, had no authority to bind her or to waive her lien as lessor in order to procure supplies for the several defendants and other tenants, and that the pretended letter authorizing him to make such contract, if it ever had an existence, which petitioner denies, was a false and forged document, not written and not signed by her; that your petitioner has never authorized the said Boyd or any other person whatsoever to waive her lien as lessor in favor of the said Mayer or any other furnisher of supplies, and has never written the pretended letter or any other letter to the said Boyd or to any other person whatsoever containing such authority; that, to the contrary, as soon as she was informed after the death of said Boyd that he had made such pretended contract and other contracts by which it was sought to bind her, she instructed
Statement of the Case.
her agents and attorneys to take immediate steps to disavow the authority of said Boyd to make such contracts; that the testimony of said Mayer as to the existence of said pretended letter is false and in pursuance of a conspiracy to defraud petitioner, or that said pretended letter, if it ever had an existence, is a false and forged document; that this testimony and much more testimony necessary to establish the falsity of said evidence upon which said judgments were obtained and the forgery of said pretended letter to said Boyd was unknown to petitioner at the time of the trial and could not have been known to or anticipated by her, and has been discovered by her since the rendition of said judgments in said suit and since the lapse of the legal delays within which a motion could be made for a new trial, and that there has been no laches on her part in failing to show the falsity of such evidence and the forgery of such pretended letter on the trial of the cause."
Such was the case made in the petition. The relief asked was an injunction against Mayer and the defendant in error, Holmes, sheriff of the parish, restraining them from executing the above judgments or any of them; that Mayer be cited to answer the petitioner's demand; that the judgments be annulled and avoided as obtained upon false testimony and forged documents; and that the petitioner have general and equitable relief.
A writ of injunction was issued as prayed for; and upon a supplementał petition, showing Mayer to be a non-resident of Louisiana, a curator ad hoc was appointed to represent him.
Mayer appeared and filed exceptions and pleas of estoppel and res adjudicata.
Subsequently, June 5, 1985, Mrs. Marshall filed a petition, accompanied by a proper bond, for the removal of her suit into the Circuit Court of the United States, upon the grounds that she was a citizen of New York, and the defendants respectively were citizens of Mississippi and Louisiana ; that the controversy was wholly between citizens of different States: and that it could be fully tried and determined between them. The court made an order refusing the application for removal. The pleas were referred to the merits, and ordered to stand as
Argument for Defendants in Error.
an answer. Mayer answered, reiterating the allegations of the pleas previously filed by him, excepting to the petition as not disclosing any cause of action, denying each averment of the petition not admitted in the pleas, and praying that the plaintiff's demand be rejected.
Upon the trial of the case judgment was rendered, dissolving the injunction, and authorizing Mayer to execute the judgments enjoined. Judgment was also rendered in his favor, on the injunction bond, for ten per cent on the amounts enjoined (special damages as attorney's fees) and for twenty per cent on such amounts as general damages. An appeal by the plaintiff to the Supreme Court of Louisiana was dismissed for want of jurisdiction in that court to review the judgment. It was held that the appeal should have gone to the proper State Court of Appeals. 39 La. Ann. 313. Thereupon, an appeal was prosecuted to the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit of the State of Louisiana, where the original judgment, after being amended by reducing the general damages to ten per cent, was affirmed. From that judgment Mrs. Marshall prosecuted the present writ of error..
Mr. A.Q. Keasbey for plaintiff in error. Mr. Wheeler H. Peckham filed a brief for same.
Mr. Charles II. Boatner for defendants in error.
First. The amount involved was not sufficient to justify the removal of the cause, and the Circuit Court properly denied it.
Complainant has, according to the allegations of her bill, twenty-three causes of action, but no one of them involves a value of as much as five hundred dollars.
The causes of action which she sets forth are not contradictory, and, therefore, under the laws of Louisiana, may be emulated or joined in the same suit, but for jurisdictional purposes each distinct cause of action must stand for itself. Thus, while one may in the same suit assert the ownership of a horse and also claim that defendant owes a sum of money,
Opinion of the Court.
the value of the horse cannot be added to the sum of money to make either original or appellate jurisdiction.
The supreme court of Louisiana very tersely says: "Common sense and logic alike point to the rule that a cause not appealable in amount to this court for the review of the judg ment rendered therein cannot be made appealable here to review the judgment rendered in action of nullity in the same cause." Marshall v. Holmes, 39 La. Ann. 313, 315. The same principle applies in questions of removal.
Second. The removal should not have been allowed, because the complainant practically seeks to have the Federal court review the judgment of the state court in causes which were exclusively within the jurisdiction of the state court and which that court has finally decided.
In Barrow v. Hunton, 99 U. S. 80, 85, the court says: "The character of the cases themselves is always open to examination for the purpose of determining whether, ratione materia, the courts of the United States are incompetent to take jurisdiction thereof.”
An examination of the case under consideration shows that David Mayer instituted twenty-three suits against as many tenants on complainant's plantation. She was made a party defendant in each case and judgment prayed against her for the amount due by her codefendant. One of these cases was selected as a test case and tried, the plaintiff introducing all the evidence on which he relied to prove that Mrs. Marshall had authorized her agent to make contracts with persons furnishing her tenants necessary supplies, by which she waived. in their favor her superior lien as lessor.
The state court has, therefore, in each of these cases, considered Mrs. Marshall's denial of authority and decided against her. She now seeks, by cumulating twenty-three distinct demands in one suit, to have this court review the judgments which have been rendered against her. This cannot be done. Nougué v. Clapp, 101 U. S. 551; Graham v. Boston, Hartford & Erie Railroad, 118 U. S. 161.
MR. JUSTICE HARLAN, after stating the case, delivered the opinion of the court.