290 U.S. 18 (1933), 27, Missouri v. Fiske

Docket NºNo. 27
Citation290 U.S. 18, 54 S.Ct. 18, 78 L.Ed. 145
Party NameMissouri v. Fiske
Case DateNovember 06, 1933
CourtUnited States Supreme Court

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290 U.S. 18 (1933)

54 S.Ct. 18, 78 L.Ed. 145




No. 27

United States Supreme Court

Nov. 6, 1933

Argued October 18, 1933




1. A state may waive, by appearing, its immunity as a sovereign from being sued by individuals. P. 24.

2. But an intervention in a suit pending in a federal court, limited to a request of the state that securities involved in that suit be not distributed but be held in the registry until a claim of the state in regard to them may be adjudicated in a proceeding begun by the state in its own court, is not such an appearance as will subject the state to a litigation of the claim in the federal court. P. 25.

3. The Eleventh Amendment is an explicit limitation upon the judicial power of the United states, and applies to equitable demands and remedies as well as to suits for money judgments. Pp. 25, 27.

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4. Even for the protection of its own decree, and of property rights thereby determined quasi in rem, a federal court cannot entertain a supplemental and ancillary bill against a state which has not appeared in the litigation and does not consent to be sued. P. 27.

5. The claim that a decree of a federal court adjudicating the ownership of private property estops the state, though not a party, from reopening the question in later inheritance tax proceedings in its own court, and that the decree should be given that effect as a matter of federal right, can be set up in the state courts, and if it be here finally denied, the decision may be reviewable by this Court. P. 29.

62 F.2d 150 reversed.

Certiorari, 289 U.S. 720, to review the reversal of a decree dismissing a bill against the State of Missouri to enjoin it from prosecution of a proceeding in the Probate Court. The Attorney General and other law officials of the state were joined as defendants in the courts below. One of these, Miller, Circuit Attorney, joined with the state in petitioning for certiorari.

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HUGHES, J., lead opinion

MR. CHIEF JUSTICE HUGHES delivered the opinion of the Court.

By an ancillary and supplemental bill of complaint in the District Court of the United states, respondents sought an injunction against the State of Missouri restraining the state from prosecuting certain proceedings in the Probate Court of the City of St. Louis in relation to the estate of Sophie Franz, deceased. The state appeared specially and moved to dismiss the bill upon the ground, among others, that it was a suit against the state, which had not consented to be sued, in violation of the Eleventh Amendment of the Federal Constitution. The District Judge granted the motion upon that ground. The Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the order of dismissal, holding that the Eleventh Amendment was inapplicable, in the view that the ancillary and supplemental bill had been brought to prevent an interference with the jurisdiction of the federal court. 62 F.2d 150. The case comes here on certiorari, 289 U.S. 720.

The circumstances are these: by the will of Ehrhardt D. Franz, who died in 1898, his property was left to his

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wife, Sophie Franz, for life, with remainder to his ten children. The will was probated in the Probate Court of the City of St. Louis. In 1909, Sophie Franz transferred certain securities, in part belonging to her husband's estate, to trustees to hold during her life. On its creation, the trust embraced shares, belonging to her husband's estate, which had been increased by stock dividends; later, these shares were exchanged for shares of a successor corporation, and these were further increased by stock dividends.

There has been protracted litigation in relation to this trust and the property held by the trustees. The present suit was brought, in 1924, in the District Court of the United states, by one of the sons of Ehrhardt D. Franz, to determine and quiet his remainder interest and to obtain an accounting and security for his protection. Indispensable parties (owners of other remainder interests) being absent, the original bill was dismissed. Franz v. Buder, 11 F.2d 854, 858. An amended bill was filed and the present respondents, who are children of Ehrhardt D. Franz and not residents of Missouri, were brought in with others. On an ancillary bill, it appearing that the federal court had first acquired jurisdiction over the subject matter in an action quasi in rem, defendants Sophie Franz and her trustees were enjoined from prosecuting a suit in the circuit court of the City of St. Louis for the determination of the same issues. Franz v. Franz, 15 F.2d 797. The present suit in the federal court then proceeded to decree, in 1927, which, with modifications as to security and costs, was affirmed by the Circuit Court of Appeals in the following year. Buder v. Franz, 27 F.2d 101.

There is a question between the parties here as to the scope of this decree, but we may assume, for the present purpose, that this decree, as stated by the Circuit Court of Appeals in the decision under review, 62 F.2d pp.

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151, 153-154, determined the rights of the present respondents by virtue of their remainders under the will of Ehrhardt D. Franz. The decree, as thus construed, determined that certain shares, with their increase through stock dividends, were corpus of the estate of Ehrhardt D. Franz, and not income, and hence that Sophie Franz had only a life interest. Buder v. Franz, 27 F.2d, pp. 105, 113-114.

Later, in 1930, Sophie Franz died, and her estate is in the course of administration in the probate court of the city of St. Louis. Her executor, in view of the decree of the federal court, did not include the shares above mentioned in his inventory of her estate. Thereupon, in 1931, the State of Missouri procured the issue, on behalf of the state, of a citation in the probate court to compel the executor to inventory these shares as assets of the estate of Sophie Franz. The State of Missouri then moved in the federal court for leave to intervene. The state set forth the issue of the citation in the probate court; that the respondents, and others in interest, were seeking in the federal court to obtain distribution of the shares of stock in question, and that, to protect the state's right to inheritance taxes, intervention was necessary to oppose that distribution pending the determination of the issues involved in the proceeding in the probate court. The application for intervention was granted.

[54 S.Ct. 20] The state then filed its intervening petition alleging that the decree of the federal court, while finding the interests in remainder of certain children of Ehrhardt D. Franz, made no finding as to other children, and that the latter, including the present respondents, although remaindermen, had,

prior to the entry of said decree, by diverse acts and by pleadings filed in this cause, extinguished, transferred and assigned their remainder interest to the life tenant, Sophie Franz;

that the stock in question "should have been inventoried," and was subject "to the assessment and collection of inheritance taxes

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of the State of Missouri under the terms of the will of Sophie Franz," and that, for these taxes, the state...

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