117 U.S. 236 (1886), Phelps v. Oaks

Citation:117 U.S. 236, 6 S.Ct. 714, 29 L.Ed. 888
Party Name:PHELPS and others v. OAKS and others.
Case Date:March 15, 1886
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 236

117 U.S. 236 (1886)

6 S.Ct. 714, 29 L.Ed. 888

PHELPS and others


OAKS and others.

United States Supreme Court.

March 15, 1886

In Error to the Circuit Court of the United States for the Western District of Missouri.


[6 S.Ct. 714] S. B. Ladd, for plaintiffs in error.

Chas. W. Hornor, for defendants in error.



The plaintiffs in error, who were plaintiffs below, brought their action in the circuit court of De Kalb county, Missouri, at the April term, 1883, against George R. Oaks for the recovery of the possession of certain lands in that county unlawfully withheld by him, as they alleged, and for damages therefor, and for rents and profits. The defendant, a citizen of Missouri, having been served with process, the plaintiffs, who were citizens of Pennsylvania, filed their petition for the removal of the cause to the circuit court of the United States for the Western division of the Western district of Missouri, on the ground that the controversy in said suit was between citizens of different states, the matter and amount in dispute being in excess of the sum or value of $500. The prayer of the petition was granted, the accompanying bond being approved, and the cause was removed.

Page 237

Afterwards, on June 16, 1884, the defendant Oaks filed his answer, in which he denied all the allegations of the plaintiffs' complaint, except as expressly admitted, and in addition set up that at the time of the commencement of the action he was in the possession of the premises as the tenant, from year to year, of one Maria Zeidler, wife of John Zeidler, who was the owner thereof, and to whom he had paid the rents due on account thereof, and asked that the said Maria and John Zeidler be made parties defendant to the suit, according to the form of the statute of Missouri in such cases provided. Thereupon the Zeidlers also appeared and asked to be let in as defendants, and for leave to plead, and it was so ordered by the court, with leave to file a motion to remand the cause to the state court in 30 days. Such a motion was accordingly made on the ground that Maria Zeidler and John Zeidler, her husband, were both citizens of Pennsylvania; that the defendant Oaks made no claim or demand to the premises in controversy otherwise than as the tenant of Maria Zeidler; and that, consequently, the said suit did not really and substantially involve a dispute or controversy properly within the jurisdiction of the circuit court of the United States. Pending this motion the plaintiffs moved the court to rescind the order making Maria and John Zeidler parties. This motion to [6 S.Ct. 715] rescind was denied, and the motion of the defendants to remand the cause was granted. To reverse these rulings is the object of this writ of error.

That the cause when removed from the state to the circuit court was rightly removed is not denied. Under the removal act of 1875 the plaintiffs were authorized to remove their action,

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although brought by them in the first place in the state court, into the circuit court of the United States, they being citizens of Pennsylvania and the defendant a citizen of Missouri and an inhabitant of the district. The ground on which the suit was remanded was that it subsequently appeared that it did not really and substantially involve a controversy properly within the jurisdiction of the circuit court, according to the sense of the fifth section of the act of March 3, 1875. This conclusion, it is supposed, is justified by the fact that the defendant Oaks being merely a tenant of Maria Zeidler, who claimed title to the premises in...

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