295 U.S. 229 (1935), 594, Federal Land Bank of St. Louis v. Priddy

Docket Nº:No. 594
Citation:295 U.S. 229, 55 S.Ct. 705, 79 L.Ed. 1408
Party Name:Federal Land Bank of St. Louis v. Priddy
Case Date:April 29, 1935
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 229

295 U.S. 229 (1935)

55 S.Ct. 705, 79 L.Ed. 1408

Federal Land Bank of St. Louis

v.

Priddy

No. 594

United States Supreme Court

April 29, 1935

Argued April 5, 1935

CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF ARKANSAS

Syllabus

1. Rulings by a State court that a Federal Land Bank is a foreign corporation within the meaning of the State's attachment statute, and that an attachment of its property was authorized by the state law, present local questions not open to review by this Court. P. 231.

2. Federal Land Banks are federal instrumentalities, with a governmental function, and the extent to which they are amenable to judicial process is a question of congressional intent. P. 231.

3. Section 4 of the Federal Farm Loan Act provides that Federal Land Banks "shall have power . . . to sue and be sued . . . as fully as natural persons;" they are given some of the characteristics of private business corporations, and the remedies afforded to their creditors by the Act are the same that it affords to creditors of Joint Stock Banks, which are privately owned corporations, organized for profit to their stockholders. Furthermore, the Act

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expressly exempt Federal Land Bank, but not Joint Stock Banks, from taxation.

Held:

(1) That the liability of Federal Land Banks to suit includes, by implication, the process of execution and attachment. P. 232.

(2) The question is reserved as to whether attachment would be allowable if shown to interfere with any function performed by such bank a a federal instrumentality. P. 237.

4. Immunity of corporate government agencies from suit and judicial process, and their incidents, is less readily implied than immunity from taxation. P. 235.

5. Semble that the Act passed by Congress in 1873, amending § 2 of the National Bank Act of 1864 by providing that no attachment or execution shall issue against a national bank in any State court before final judgment, was a recognition that the liability of such bank to suit "as fully as natural persons" under the Act of 1864, extended to such process by implication. P. 236.

189 Ark. 438; 74 S.W.2d 222, affirmed.

Certiorari, 294 U.S. 700, to review a judgment refusing a writ of prohibition to restrain a state judge from proceeding with an action against a Federal Land Bank begun by attachment.

STONE, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE STONE delivered the opinion of the Court.

A real estate broker brought suit in the circuit court for Pope County, Arkansas, against petitioner, incorporated under Act of Congress (Federal Farm Loan Act, July 17, 1916, c. 245, 39 Stat. 360), and domiciled in Missouri, to recover a brokerage commission. Pursuant to local law (Crawford & Moses' Digest, §§ 1159-1163), he began the suit by attachment of real estate of the petitioner in the county, as that of a foreign corporation.

Petitioner appeared specially in the circuit court and moved to vacate the attachment on the grounds that it is

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not a foreign corporation subject to attachment under the pertinent statutes of Arkansas, and that it is a federal instrumentality, immune from mesne process of attachment by virtue of its organization and functions under the statutes of the United States. On denial of the motion, petitioner sought of the supreme court of the State a writ of prohibition directed to respondent, the circuit judge, which was denied. 74 S.W.2d 222. We brought the case here on certiorari.

The ruling of the state supreme court that petitioner is a foreign corporation within the meaning of the Arkansas attachment statute, and that the attachment was authorized by local law, presents only a state question, which is not open for review here. The sole question for our consideration is whether the petitioner is exempt from attachment because it is a federal agency or instrumentality which Congress has not expressly subjected to judicial process.

Without now entering into a detailed examination of the subject, it is sufficient that this Court has already had occasion to consider the organization and functions of federal land banks, and to declare that they are instrumentalities of the federal government, engaged in the performance of an...

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