306 U.S. 282 (1939), 188, Titus v. Wallick

Docket Nº:No. 188
Citation:306 U.S. 282, 59 S.Ct. 557, 83 L.Ed. 653
Party Name:Titus v. Wallick
Case Date:February 27, 1939
Court:United States Supreme Court

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306 U.S. 282 (1939)

59 S.Ct. 557, 83 L.Ed. 653




No. 188

United States Supreme Court

Feb. 27, 1939

Argued January 30, 1939



1. The right to enforce in a state court a judgment recovered in a court of another State is one arising under Article IV, § 1, of the Constitution and under a statute of the United States, R.S. § 905; 28 U.S.C. § 687. Since the existence of this right depends upon the legal effect of the proceedings, and the validity of the judgment, in the State in which it was rendered, the rulings upon those matters by the court in which the judgment is sued upon are reviewable by this Court. P. 287.

2. By the law of New York, an assignment of a chose in action for the purpose of suit only and obligating the assignee to account for the proceeds to another enables the assignee to sue in his own name. P. 288.

3. This effect of an assignment in New York is not altered by adding to the assignment a power of attorney to bring the suit. P. 289.

4. After recovering a judgment as lawful assignee of the original cause of action, the judgment creditor resisted a claim upon contract for a share of the judgment, made in another suit, by representing that his interest had been assigned to others before the contract and by concealing the fact that the cause of action

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had been reassigned to him for purposes of suit before the action resulting in the judgment had been begun. Held not matter of defense in a suit to collect the judgment in another State, because these circumstances did not impair the previous assignment of the cause of action or deprive the judgment creditor of the authority to maintain the suit, already conferred upon him by the reassignment. P. 290.

5. When a state court refuses credit to the judgment of a sister State because of its opinion of the nature of the cause of action or the judgment in which it is merged, an asserted federal right is denied, and the sufficiency of the grounds of denial are for this Court to decide. P. 291.

6. The Constitution, Article IV, § 1, requires that credit be given money judgment recovered by the judgment creditor, as assignee of a civil cause of action, in another State, even though the forum might have declined to concede his right to sue as real party in interest if the suit had been brought there upon the original assigned claim. P. 291.

133 Ohio St. 612; 15 N.E.2d 140, reversed.

Certiorari, 305 U.S. 585, to review a judgment of the court below, which dismissed, as involving no debatable constitutional question, an appeal from an intermediate appellate court of Ohio, which had affirmed a judgment against the present petitioner in his suit on a New York judgment.

STONE, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE STONE delivered the opinion of the Court.

The question for decision is whether the Supreme Court of Ohio, by denying recovery upon a judgment procured by petitioner against respondent in the courts of New

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York, has failed to accord to the New York judgment the full faith and credit which Article 4, § 1 of the Constitution commands.

Petitioner brought the present suit against respondent in the Ohio Court of Common Pleas upon a judgment recovered by petitioner against respondent in the Supreme Court of New York on May 1, 1934. Transcript of the New York judgment for $389,103, duly authenticated in conformity to the Act of Congress, R.S. § 905, 28 U.S.C. § 687, was filed with the petition in the Ohio court. Defenses interposed by respondent, so far as now material, were that petitioner was not the real party in interest in the Ohio suit and that the judgment had been procured in New York by fraud on the court and on respondent, in that petitioner was not the real party in interest entitled to assert the claim litigated in that suit, as required by § 210c of the New York Civil Practice Act, and that petitioner, in procuring the judgment, suppressed and withheld that fact from respondent and the New York courts.

The Court of Common Pleas, after a trial without a jury, sustained these defenses and gave judgment for respondent, which the Ohio Court of Appeals for Franklin County affirmed, with an opinion in which it ruled that the judgment sustaining the defenses did not deny the New York judgment the full faith and credit required by the Constitution. Appeal to the Supreme Court of Ohio assigning as error the denial of full faith and credit to the New York judgment was dismissed on the ground that the case involved "no debatable constitutional question." 133 Ohio St. 612, 15 N.E.2d 140. We granted certiorari October 10, 1938, 305 U.S. 585, the constitutional question presented by the petition being of public importance and the federal right asserted having been ruled upon and denied by the highest court of the state. Matthews v. Huwe, 269 U.S. 262; Tumey v. Ohio, 273 U.S. 510, 515.

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Petitioner brought the New York suit in December, 1925, alleging that he was the owner of a quarter interest in two hundred and fifty shares of the stock of an Ohio corporation which respondent here, the defendant there, had fraudulently appropriated to his own use. The relief sought was that respondent be directed to deliver to petitioner certificates of stock representing his interest in the corporation and to account for the dividends and earnings on the stock received by respondent. Respondent appeared personally and defended the suit. It was twice tried in the Supreme Court of New York, and was five times before the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, 222 A.D. 17, 225 N.Y.S. 263; 277 A.D. 789, 237 N.Y.S. 908; 235 A.D. 662, 255 N.Y.S. 905; 240 A.D. 818, 266 N.Y.S. 969; 244 A.D. 789, 280 N.Y.S. 969, and once before [59 S.Ct. 560] the New York Court of Appeals, 260 N.Y. 519, 184 N.E. 75, which affirmed a judgment establishing the liability of respondent. An accounting at the end of nine years of litigation resulted in the final judgment sued upon, which was affirmed by the Appellate Division. 244 A.D. 789, 280 N.Y.S. 969.

The present record discloses that, after entry of this judgment, London Wallick, a brother of respondent, brought suit in the Supreme Court of New York to recover from petitioner a share of the judgment pursuant to a contract alleged to have been entered into by him with London Wallick on or about November 23, 1925. In resisting a motion made in that suit for an injunction restraining petitioner from disposing of the judgment or its proceeds, petitioner prepared and filed an affidavit reciting that, on or before November 23, 1925, he had informed London Wallick that he had already assigned his interest in the claim against respondent to his wife and to Walter Titus, his brother, and asserting that "it does

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not lie within...

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