296 U.S. 207 (1935), 47, Fox Film Corp. v. Muller

Docket NºNo. 47
Citation296 U.S. 207, 56 S.Ct. 183, 80 L.Ed. 158
Party NameFox Film Corp. v. Muller
Case DateDecember 09, 1935
CourtUnited States Supreme Court

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296 U.S. 207 (1935)

56 S.Ct. 183, 80 L.Ed. 158

Fox Film Corp.



No. 47

United States Supreme Court

Dec. 9, 1935

Argued November 15, 1935



1. Where the judgment of a state court rests upon two grounds, one of which is federal and the other nonfederal in character, the jurisdiction of this Court fails if the nonfederal ground is independent of the federal ground and adequate to support the judgment. P. 210.

2. Whether the provisions of a contract are nonseverable, so that, if one be held invalid the others must fall with it, is a question of general, and not of federal, law. P. 210.

3. A ruling by a state supreme court that a concededly invalid arbitration clause in a contract between a motion picture distributor and an exhibitor (the same clause that was held invalid as a violation of the Sherman Act in Paramount Famous Corp. v. United States, 282 U.S. 30) was inseparable from the other provisions, and rendered the entire contract unenforceable, held a nonfederal ground adequate to support the judgment without regard to whether the court decided a federal question in determining the contract invalid also on another ground. P. 210.

4. Enterprise Irrigation District v. Canal Co., 243 U.S. 157, distinguished. P. 210.

Writ of certiorari to 194 Minn. 654, 260 N.W. 320, dismissed.

Certiorari, 295 U.S. 730, to review a judgment affirming a judgment denying recovery in an action for damages for breach of contract. A writ of certiorari previously granted in this case, 293 U.S. 550, to review an earlier

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judgment of the state court, 192 Minn. 212, 255 N.W. 845, was dismissed as improvidently granted, it appearing that no final Judgment had been entered, 294 U.S. 696.

SUTHERLAND, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE SUTHERLAND delivered the opinion of the Court.

This is an action brought in a Minnesota state court of first instance by the Film Corporation against Muller to recover damages for an alleged breach of two contracts by which Muller was licensed to exhibit certain moving picture films belonging to the corporation. Muller answered, setting up the invalidity of the contracts under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. It was and is agreed that these contracts are substantially the same as the one involved in United States v. Paramount Famous Lasky Corp., 34 F.2d 984, aff'd, 282 U.S. 30, that petitioner was one of the defendants in that action, and that the "arbitration clause," paragraph 18 of each of the contracts sued upon is the same as that held in that case to be invalid. In view of the disposition which we are to make of this writ, it is not necessary to set forth the terms of the arbitration clause or the other provisions of the contract.

The court of first instance held that each contract sued upon violated the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, and dismissed the action. In a supplemental opinion, that court put its decision upon the grounds, first, that the arbitration plan is so connected with the remainder of the contract that the entire contract is tainted, and second that the contract

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violates the Sherman Anti-Trust law. The state Supreme Court affirmed. 192 Minn. 212, 255 N.W. 845. We granted certiorari, 293 U.S. 550, but, when the case was called for argument, it appeared that no final judgment had been entered, and the writ was...

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