222 U.S. 32 (1911), 395, Helm v. Zarecor

Docket Nº:No. 395
Citation:222 U.S. 32, 32 S.Ct. 10, 56 L.Ed. 77
Party Name:Helm v. Zarecor
Case Date:November 06, 1911
Court:United States Supreme Court

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222 U.S. 32 (1911)

32 S.Ct. 10, 56 L.Ed. 77




No. 395

United States Supreme Court

November 6, 1911

Submitted October 9, 1911




In determining whether diversity of citizenship exists to give jurisdiction, it is the duty of the circuit court to arrange the parties with respect to the actual controversy looking beyond the formal arrangement made by the bill.

Where, as in this case, the controversy over the control of a corporation transcends the rivalry of those claiming to be members of its board of control and the corporation itself is a mere instrumentality or title holder, it is properly made a party defendant, and should not be aligned as a party plaintiff merely because the plaintiffs belong to the same faction that claims the power to appoint the members of the board of control.

The facts, which involve the jurisdiction of the circuit court of the United States in this case, are stated in the opinion.

HUGHES, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE HUGHES delivered the opinion of the Court.

The sole question presented by this appeal is with respect to the jurisdiction of the circuit court.

The bill, as amended, was brought by certain ministers, ruling elders, and laymen of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, citizens of states other than

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Tennessee, suing for themselves and for all the members of said Church against individuals, citizens of Tennessee, described as representing not only their own interests, but also those of all the members of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, and "The Board of Publication of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church," a Tennessee corporation.

The controversy disclosed by the bill arose from the proceedings, taken in 1906, to effect the union of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, both voluntary religious associations, and relates to the property and management of the defendant corporation. The Board of Publication had been incorporated in 1860, under the direction of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, for the purpose of conducting its publishing work, and had acquired valuable property consisting of a publishing house and its equipment in Nashville, Tennessee. The original members of the corporation were the committee of publication of the Church, and their successors under the charter were appointed by the General Assembly, [32 S.Ct. 11] to which was committed its regulation and control.

The bill alleged that the two Churches had been legally united, and that, as a result, the property in question was held by the corporation in trust "for the entire reunited denomination," and further that "the Board and its officers and managers were advised and believed, and still believe," that the union was valid, that "thereby the Board of Publication became a corporation and...

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