313 U.S. 100 (1941), 727, Shamrock Oil & Gas Corp. v. Sheets

Docket Nº:No. 727
Citation:313 U.S. 100, 61 S.Ct. 868, 85 L.Ed. 1214
Party Name:Shamrock Oil & Gas Corp. v. Sheets
Case Date:April 28, 1941
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 100

313 U.S. 100 (1941)

61 S.Ct. 868, 85 L.Ed. 1214

Shamrock Oil & Gas Corp.

v.

Sheets

No. 727

United States Supreme Court

April 28, 1941

Argued April 8, 1941

CERTIORARI TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS

FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT

Syllabus

1. Removability of suit from state to federal courts is determined by the federal removal statute, unaffected by local law. P. 104.

2. The right of removal under the Act of 1887, Jud.Code § 28, is confined to the defendant or defendants. P. 104.

3. The interposition by the citizen defendant in a suit in a state court, of a counterclaim setting up an independent cause of action involving the requisite jurisdictional amount does not confer upon the noncitizen plaintiff the right of removal. P. 107.

The amount of the plaintiff's demand in the state court is immaterial.

4. Not only does the language of the jurisdictional Act of 1887 evidence the Congressional purpose to restrict the jurisdiction of the federal courts on removal, but the policy of the successive Acts of Congress regulating the jurisdiction of federal courts is one calling for the strict construction of such jurisdiction. P. 108.

115 F.2d 880 affirmed.

Certiorari, 312 U.S. 675, to review the reversal of a judgment of the District Court in a suit removed from a state court. The judgment went in favor of the defendant, petitioner herein, both on the cause of action set up in the complaint and on a counterclaim.

Page 102

STONE, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE STONE delivered the opinion of the Court.

Respondent, a citizen of Texas and defendant in a court of that state set up, by way of counterclaim or

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cross-action against petitioner, the noncitizen plaintiff in the suit, a cause of action for damages in excess of $3,000 for breach of a contract, which was separate and distinct from the alleged indebtedness sued upon by the petitioner. The question for decision is whether the suit in which the counterclaim is filed is one removable by the plaintiff to the federal district court on grounds of diversity of citizenship under § 28 of the Judicial Code, 28 U.S.C. § 71.

The plaintiff in the state court removed the cause to the United States District Court for Northern Texas, which denied respondent's motion to remand. After a trial on the merits, it gave judgment for petitioner, plaintiff below, both on the cause of action set up on its complaint in the suit and on the counterclaim. The Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed, 115 F.2d 880, and ordered the [61 S.Ct. 870] cause remanded to the state court on the ground that the plaintiff in the state court was not a "defendant" within the meaning of § 28 of the Judicial Code, and so was not entitled to remove the cause under that section, which in terms authorizes the removal of a suit subject to its provisions only "by the defendant or defendants therein." We granted certiorari, 312 U.S. 675, to resolve the conflict of the decision of the court below and that of Waco Hardware Co. v. Michigan Stove Co., 91 F. 289; see West v. Aurora City, 6 Wall. 139, with numerous decisions of other circuit courts of appeals. Carson & Rand Lbr. Co. v. Holtzclaw, 39 F. 578; Bankers Securities Corp. v. Insurance Equities Corp., 85 F.2d 856; Chambers v. Skelly Oil Co., 87 F.2d 853, and cases cited in note 5 of the opinion below, 115 F.2d 880, 882.

We assume for purposes of decision that, if the cause was removable by petitioner, the removal proceedings were regular and timely; that respondent's counterclaim stated an independent cause of action, and that the amount

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in controversy in that action exceeded the jurisdictional amount, and we confine our decision to the question of statutory construction raised by the petition for certiorari.

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