377 U.S. 152 (1964), 336, Mercer v. Theriot

Docket Nº:No. 336
Citation:377 U.S. 152, 84 S.Ct. 1157, 12 L.Ed.2d 206
Party Name:Mercer v. Theriot
Case Date:May 04, 1964
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 152

377 U.S. 152 (1964)

84 S.Ct. 1157, 12 L.Ed.2d 206

Mercer

v.

Theriot

No. 336

United States Supreme Court

May 4, 1964

Argued April 22, 1964

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS

FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT

Syllabus

The Court of Appeals, for insufficiency of evidence and prejudicial errors, reversed a judgment for petitioner in a wrongful death action brought in a federal District Court where jurisdiction was based on diversity of citizenship and amount in controversy, and remanded the case to the District Court with instructions for entry of judgment for respondent, or for a new trial if petitioner could show that, on another trial, there would be sufficiently probative evidence to warrant submission of the case to the jury. The District Court, on remand, denied petitioner's motion for a new trial, holding that the additional evidence would be inadmissible under the hearsay rule; and the Court of Appeals affirmed.

Held:

1. This Court, upon review of the second judgment, may consider all the substantial federal questions determined in the earlier stages of the litigation. P. 153.

2. The evidence was sufficient under any appropriate standard, state or federal, to support the jury's verdict, and no errors affecting substantial justice occurred at the trial. Pp. 154-156.

316 F.2d 635, reversed and remanded.

Per curiam opinion.

PER CURIAM.

Petitioner brought a wrongful death action against respondent in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. Jurisdiction was based on diversity of citizenship and amount in controversy. The jury returned a verdict for petitioner in the amount of

Page 153

$25,000, and the trial court denied respondent's motions for a new trial and for judgment notwithstanding the verdict.

On appeal, a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed the judgment. The court held that the evidence was insufficient to sustain the verdict of the jury, and remanded the case to the District Court

with directions to enter a judgment for the defendant unless plaintiff . . . makes a satisfactory showing that on another trial evidence of sufficient probative force to justify submission of the cause to the jury will be offered, in which event the judgment shall be for a new trial.

262 F.2d 754, 761. The court also held that there were prejudicial errors in the conduct of the trial which would have required a new trial even if there had been sufficient evidence. 262 F.2d, at 758-759. At that stage in the litigation, this Court denied a petition for a writ of certiorari. 359 U.S. 983.

Petitioner then submitted to the District Court additional evidence in support of a motion for a new trial. The district judge, regarding himself bound [84 S.Ct. 1159] by the ruling of the Court of Appeals that the evidence adduced at trial was insufficient, denied the motion on the ground that the additional "evidence, while persuasive, would be inadmissible in a new trial under the hearsay rule." The Court of Appeals sitting en banc, over the dissent of four judges, affirmed the denial of a new trial. 316 F.2d 635. Petitioner then sought, and we granted, a writ of certiorari. 375 U.S. 920.

We now "consider all of the substantial federal questions determined in the earlier stages of the litigation . . . ," Reece v. Georgia, 350 U.S. 85, 87, for it is settled that we may consider questions raised on the first appeal, as well as "those that were before the court of appeals upon the second appeal." Hamilton-Brown

Page 154

Shoe Co. v. Wolf Bros. & Co., 240 U.S. 251, 257. Cf. Urie v. Thompson, 337 U.S. 163, 171-173; Messinger v. Anderson, 225 U.S. 436, 444.

We consider first the alleged errors in the conduct of the trial. The Court of Appeals deemed the trial court's instruction regarding circumstantial evidence to be "highly prejudicial error" because it included a statement that "[t]he testimony of all of the witnesses for the plaintiff has made out what we call in law a circumstantial case. . . ." 262 F.2d at 758. But as soon as this was called to the court's attention, the following instruction was given:

What I meant to say was that the witnesses for the Plaintiff . . ....

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59 practice notes
  • 396 F.2d 740 (8th Cir. 1968), 18966, State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Borg
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
    • 28 Junio 1968
    ...the evidence to support a jury verdict where federal jurisdiction rests on diversity of citizenship remains unsettled. Mercer v. Theriot, 377 U.S. 152, 156, 84 S.Ct. 1157, 12 L.Ed.2d 206 (1964); Farmers Co-operative Elevator Association Non-Stock of Big Springs, Nebraska v. Strand, 382 F.2d......
  • 462 A.2d 58 (Md. 1983), 34, Loveday v. State
    • United States
    • Maryland Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • 28 Junio 1983
    ...supreme court that its decision was law of case does not preclude U.S. Supreme Court from re-examining the question); Mercer v. Theriot, 377 U.S. 152, 84 S.Ct. 1157, 12 L.Ed.2d 206 (1964) (it is settled that U.S. Supreme Court may consider questions raised on first appeal to Court of Appeal......
  • 194 S.E.2d 133 (N.C. 1973), 89, Peaseley v. Virginia Iron, Coal & Coke Co.
    • United States
    • North Carolina Supreme Court of North Carolina
    • 2 Febrero 1973
    ...to notice and rectify any error that may have occurred in the interlocutory proceedings. (Citations omitted.)' Accord, Mercer v. Theriot, 377 U.S. 152, 84 S.Ct. 1157, 12 L.Ed.2d 206 (1964). As a general rule this Court will consider only those aspects of a decision of the Court of Appeals w......
  • 407 F.2d 433 (3rd Cir. 1969), 17064, Denneny v. Siegel
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
    • 20 Febrero 1969
    ...in this Page 439 area. In both Dick v. New York Life Ins. Co., 359 U.S. 437, 79 S.Ct. 921, 3 L.Ed.2d 935 (1959) and Mercer v. Theriot, 377 U.S. 152, 84 S.Ct. 1157, 12 L.Ed.2d 206 (1964), resolution of the issue was expressly declined. In the wake of this reluctance, our decisions have displ......
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59 cases
  • 396 F.2d 740 (8th Cir. 1968), 18966, State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Borg
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
    • 28 Junio 1968
    ...the evidence to support a jury verdict where federal jurisdiction rests on diversity of citizenship remains unsettled. Mercer v. Theriot, 377 U.S. 152, 156, 84 S.Ct. 1157, 12 L.Ed.2d 206 (1964); Farmers Co-operative Elevator Association Non-Stock of Big Springs, Nebraska v. Strand, 382 F.2d......
  • 462 A.2d 58 (Md. 1983), 34, Loveday v. State
    • United States
    • Maryland Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • 28 Junio 1983
    ...supreme court that its decision was law of case does not preclude U.S. Supreme Court from re-examining the question); Mercer v. Theriot, 377 U.S. 152, 84 S.Ct. 1157, 12 L.Ed.2d 206 (1964) (it is settled that U.S. Supreme Court may consider questions raised on first appeal to Court of Appeal......
  • 194 S.E.2d 133 (N.C. 1973), 89, Peaseley v. Virginia Iron, Coal & Coke Co.
    • United States
    • North Carolina Supreme Court of North Carolina
    • 2 Febrero 1973
    ...to notice and rectify any error that may have occurred in the interlocutory proceedings. (Citations omitted.)' Accord, Mercer v. Theriot, 377 U.S. 152, 84 S.Ct. 1157, 12 L.Ed.2d 206 (1964). As a general rule this Court will consider only those aspects of a decision of the Court of Appeals w......
  • 407 F.2d 433 (3rd Cir. 1969), 17064, Denneny v. Siegel
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
    • 20 Febrero 1969
    ...in this Page 439 area. In both Dick v. New York Life Ins. Co., 359 U.S. 437, 79 S.Ct. 921, 3 L.Ed.2d 935 (1959) and Mercer v. Theriot, 377 U.S. 152, 84 S.Ct. 1157, 12 L.Ed.2d 206 (1964), resolution of the issue was expressly declined. In the wake of this reluctance, our decisions have displ......
  • Free signup to view additional results