330 U.S. 464 (1947), 432, Aetna Casualty & Surety Co. v. Flowers

Docket Nº:No. 432
Citation:330 U.S. 464, 67 S.Ct. 798, 91 L.Ed. 1024
Party Name:Aetna Casualty & Surety Co. v. Flowers
Case Date:March 10, 1947
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 464

330 U.S. 464 (1947)

67 S.Ct. 798, 91 L.Ed. 1024

Aetna Casualty & Surety Co.



No. 432

United States Supreme Court

March 10, 1947

Argued February 13, 1947




1. The action of a circuit court of appeals in directing a remand to a state court is reviewable here, and the jurisdiction of this Court is not defeated by the fact that the mandate of the circuit court of appeals has issued. Pp. 466-467.

2. A suit for death benefits in the amount of $5,000 under the Workmen's Compensation Law of Tennessee held to involve the sum of $3,000 requisite to the jurisdiction of a federal district court on the ground of diversity of citizenship, notwithstanding that, under the state law, an award would be payable in installments and, by operation of conditions subsequent, the payments might be terminated before totaling $3,000. Pp. 467-468.

3. Since the other grounds relied on by the respondent to sustain the judgment of the circuit court of appeals were not passed upon by that court nor adequately presented here, the case is remanded to the circuit court of appeals for consideration of those questions. P. 468.

154 F.2d 881, reversed.

Respondent's suit against petitioners in a state court, to recover death benefits under the Workmen's Compensation Law of Tennessee, was removed to a federal district court on the ground of diversity of citizenship. The district court dismissed the action for want of proper venue. The Circuit Court of Appeals held that the requisite jurisdictional amount was not involved, and directed remand to the state court. 154 F.2d 881. This Court granted certiorari. 329 U.S. 699. Reversed and remanded, p. 468.

Page 465

DOUGLAS, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS delivered the opinion of the Court.

This action for death benefits under the Workmen's Compensation Law of Tennessee (Tenn.Code Ann.1934, § 6851 et seq.) was commenced in 1945 by plaintiff respondent in the Chancery Court of Hawkins County, Tennessee. The defendants petitioners are the former employer of her deceased husband and the employer's insurance carrier. Service was had on the insurance carrier in Hawkins County, and on the employer in Knox County. Respondent is a citizen of Tennessee, the employer is a North Carolina corporation, and the insurance carrier is a Connecticut corporation. The complaint alleged that respondent's husband died as the result of an accident occurring in the course of his employment. Burial expenses plus benefits in the amount of $5,000, the maximum under the Tennessee statute,1 were sought on behalf of respondent and her two minor children, aged twelve and fifteen.

On May 28, 1945, petitioners mailed a notice of intention to file a petition for removal to a federal District Court which was received by respondent's attorney on the morning of May 29. The petition for removal was filed in the Chancery Court the same day, and on June 5, the removal order issued. in the federal court the petitioners moved for dismissal on the ground that venue was not properly laid in the Hawkins County Court, so that,

Page 466

under Tennessee law, that court had lacked jurisdiction.2 Respondent sought a remand of the case to the state court, contending that the requisites of diversity jurisdiction had not been met either as to jurisdictional amount or as to proper notice of filing of the removal petition, and that the suit was not removable, because not one of civil nature in law or equity. The District Court concluded that Hawkins County was not the proper venue. It thereupon dismissed the action without reaching the questions raised by respondent's motion for a remand.

The judgment was reversed on appeal. 154 F.2d 881. The Circuit Court of Appeals held that the jurisdictional minimum of $3,000 in controversy (Judicial Code § 24, 28 U.S.C. § 41(1)) was not present, and therefore ordered the case remanded to the state court. In this disposition, the Circuit Court of Appeals reached neither the state venue question raised by petitioners nor respondent's contention that the required notice of the filing of the removal petition was lacking. We granted certiorari because of an apparent conflict with Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen...

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