415 U.S. 125 (1974), 73-347, Phillips Petroleum Co. v. Texaco Inc.

Docket Nº:No. 73-347
Citation:415 U.S. 125, 94 S.Ct. 1002, 39 L.Ed.2d 209
Party Name:Phillips Petroleum Co. v. Texaco Inc.
Case Date:February 19, 1974
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
FREE EXCERPT

Page 125

415 U.S. 125 (1974)

94 S.Ct. 1002, 39 L.Ed.2d 209

Phillips Petroleum Co.

v.

Texaco Inc.

No. 73-347

United States Supreme Court

Feb. 19, 1974

ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES

COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE TENTH CIRCUIT

Syllabus

Respondent, relying for federal jurisdiction on 28 U.S.C. § 1331(a), brought this action in District Court for the reasonable value of helium beyond what petitioner had already paid respondent for natural gas under the sales contract. The District Court granted petitioner's motion to dismiss for lack of federal jurisdiction. The Court of Appeals reversed on the basis of its decision in Northern Natural Gas Co. v. Grounds, 441 F.2d 704, a federal interpleader action, in which the court found that the statutory provisions in the Helium Act Amendments of 1960 and the Natural Cas Act do not apply to a sale of commingled helium as a component of the natural gas stream, and that natural gas rates authorized by the Federal Power Commission would thus not bar the seller from recovering the reasonable value of the helium constituent.

Held: Respondent's suit is, in effect, an action in quantum meruit, whose source is state, and not federal, law. Under the Grounds decision, supra, those federal statutory provisions do not create a federal right of recovery, but only preclude interposition of a plea of payment to defeat a quasi-contractual suit for the helium constituent, which is insufficient to support federal jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331(a). Gully v. First National Bank, 299 U.S. 109, 113.

Certiorari granted; 481 F.2d 70, reversed.

Per curiam opinion.

PER CURIAM.

The respondent, Texaco, brought this action against the petitioner, Phillips Petroleum Co., in the Northern District of Oklahoma. The complaint asserted that Texaco had not been compensated [94 S.Ct. 1003] for the helium constituent of natural gas sold by Texaco to Phillips. Texaco claimed it was entitled to the reasonable value of this helium in addition to the sums already paid by Phillips for the natural gas under the contract of sale.

Page 126

It is conceded that there is no diversity of citizenship between the parties. Accordingly, Texaco relied, as the basis for federal jurisdiction, on 28 U.S.C. § 1331(a), asserting that its claim "[arose] under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States." Phillips moved to dismiss for want of federal jurisdiction of the subject matter. The District Court...

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP