337 U.S. 535 (1949), 465, Woods v. Interstate Realty Co.

Docket Nº:No. 465
Citation:337 U.S. 535, 69 S.Ct. 1235, 93 L.Ed. 1524
Party Name:Woods v. Interstate Realty Co.
Case Date:June 20, 1949
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 535

337 U.S. 535 (1949)

69 S.Ct. 1235, 93 L.Ed. 1524



Interstate Realty Co.

No. 465

United States Supreme Court

June 20, 1949

Argued March 30-31, 1949




In an action brought by a foreign corporation in a Federal District Court solely on rounds of diversity of citizenship to recover a broker's commission for the sale of real estate in the State, defendant moved for summary judgment on the ground that plaintiff had not qualified to do business in the State under a state statute which the Court of Appeals construed as not making the contract void, but only unenforceable, in the state courts.

Held: the motion for summary judgment was properly granted. Erie R. Co. v. Tompkins, 304 U.S. 64. Pp. 535-538.

170 F.2d 694 reversed.

Having jurisdiction solely on grounds of diversity of citizenship, a Federal District Court granted a defendant's motion for summary judgment in a suit to recover a broker's commission, on the ground that the plaintiff, a foreign corporation, had not qualified to do business in the State as required by state law. The Court of Appeals reversed, 168 F.2d 701, granted rehearing, 170 F.2d 74, and reaffirmed its reversal, 170 F.2d 694. This Court granted certiorari. 336 U.S. 909. Reversed, p. 538.

DOUGLAS, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS delivered the opinion of the Court.

This case was brought in the District Court for Mississippi on the grounds of diversity of citizenship. Respondent, a Tennessee corporation, sued petitioner, a

Page 536

resident of Mississippi, for a broker's commission alleged to be due for the sale of real estate of petitioner in Mississippi. The District Court found on motion for summary judgment that the contract was void under Mississippi law, since respondent was doing business in Mississippi without qualifying under a Mississippi statute. * It therefore dismissed the complaint with prejudice.

The Court of Appeals reversed. It reviewed the Mississippi decisions under the Mississippi statute and concluded that the contract was not void, but only unenforceable, in the Mississippi courts. It held, in reliance on David Lupton's Sons Co. v. Automobile Club of America, 225 U.S. 489, that the fact that respondent could not sue in the Mississippi courts did not close the doors of the federal court sitting in that State. Accordingly, it reversed the judgment of the District Court. 168 F.2d 701.

The case is here on a petition for writ of certiorari which we granted because of the seeming conflict of that holding with...

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