150 F.2d 96 (9th Cir. 1945), 10790, Bell v. Hood

Docket Nº:10790.
Citation:150 F.2d 96
Party Name:BELL et al. v. HOOD et al.
Case Date:June 07, 1945
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Page 96

150 F.2d 96 (9th Cir. 1945)

BELL et al.


HOOD et al.

No. 10790.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.

June 7, 1945

         Writ of Certiorari Granted Oct. 22, 1945.

Page 97

         Lorrin Andrews and A. L. Wirin, both of Los Angeles, Cal. (Betty Aronow, of Los Angeles, Cal., of counsel), for appellants.

         Charles H. Carr, U.S. Atty., and Ronald Walker, Ast. U.S. Atty., both of Los Angeles, Cal., for appellees.

         Before MATHEWS, STEPHENS, and BONE, Circuit Judges.

         STEPHENS, Circuit Judge.

         The district court ruled that it was without original jurisdiction of the subject matter and dismissed the complaint. Plaintiffs below appeal. For convenience we shall refer to appellees as defendants.

         The complaint filed in the district court sounds in tort; the damages prayed for far exceed the jurisdictional requirement as to value in controversy; there is no diversity of citizenship. It follows that the district court was right unless original jurisdiction of the case is conferred by Sec. 41, Title 28 U.S.C.A., Sec. 24 of the Judicial Code, as amended, the applicable part of which reads: 'The district courts shall have original jurisdiction as follows: (1) * * * (when the case) (a) arises under the Constitution or laws of the United States, * * * .'

         Appellants contend that their right of action arises under the Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the federal Constitution, which we quote in the margin. 1

         It is set out in the complaint that defendants, through the medium of unlawful and unreasonable searches and seizures, have violated the Fourth Amendment to the personal injury of the several plaintiffs and that such defendants have invaded plaintiffs' immunities as provided by the Fifth Amendment to the effect that no person ' * * * shall be compelled in any Criminal Case to be a witness against

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himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; * * * .' It is therefore alleged and argued by the plaintiffs that they have a right to recover personal judgments in the federal district court against the defendants involved for injuries sustained.

         It is alleged in the complaint that Arthur L. Bell, one of the plaintiffs and appellants, is an 'Associate of and Division Superintendent of Mankind United, a Voluntary Association, ' and brings the action in behalf of the organization and of the Associates thereof. Whether or not Bell can legally, or whether or not he has the right or power to, maintain the action on behalf of such persons or on behalf of such association, we do not consider.

         The defendants are not sued in the capacity of officers but it is alleged in the complaint that they were, with one exception, Federal Bureau of Investigation officers.

         It appears that one Merle Armstrong, one of the defendants below, is a Los Angeles policeman and that he was not an acting federal officer at any of the time or during any of the events with which this action is concerned. Counsel stated in the oral argument in this court that they do not press any of their points as to Armstrong, and we shall therefore proceed in our reasoning without regard to him.

         At the time of the alleged invasion of plaintiffs' rights each plaintiff stood indicted as of December 18, 1942, by a federal grand jury of violating Sec. 34, Title 50 U.S.C.A. (use of United States mails to defraud). No trial had been held.

         It is alleged that the defendants, on the day the indictment was returned, 'unlawfully conspired with each other to act beyond their authority as said Federal Bureau of Investigation agents and police officer respectively, and agreed that they would abridge the Constitutional rights of the plaintiffs as guaranteed by the Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States to be free from the deprivation of liberty and property without due process of law, and to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, and agreed unlawfully to simultaneously, in the early morning of December...

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