Aetna Casualty & Surety Co. v. Quarles, No. 4173.

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtPARKER, NORTHCOTT, and SOPER, Circuit
Parties?TNA CASUALTY & SURETY CO. v. QUARLES et al.
Decision Date29 September 1937
Docket NumberNo. 4173.

92 F.2d 321 (1937)

?TNA CASUALTY & SURETY CO.
v.
QUARLES et al.

No. 4173.

Circuit Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit.

September 29, 1937.


92 F.2d 322
COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED
92 F.2d 323
James S. Bussey and Edwin D. Fulcher, both of Augusta, Ga. (W. K. Charles, of Greenwood, S. C., on the brief), for appellant

C. A. Mays, of Greenwood, S. C., and J. Strom Thurmond, of Edgefield, S. C. (Douglas Featherstone, of Greenwood, S. C., on the brief), for appellees.

Before PARKER, NORTHCOTT, and SOPER, Circuit Judges.

PARKER, Circuit Judge.

On April 23, 1935, the Aetna Casualty & Surety Company issued to one H. E. Quarles a policy of automobile liability insurance, which was admittedly in effect on January 26, 1936, when his wife, Mrs. Carrie Mae Quarles, was injured while riding in the insured automobile that he was driving. Shortly after the injury she brought an action against him in a South Carolina state court to recover damages in the sum of $5,000 on account thereof. Thereafter, on June 4, 1936, the company filed suit in the court below, alleging that under the policy of insurance it was the duty of Quarles to co-operate with the company in the defense of any suit brought against him which was covered by the policy, that the suit instituted by Mrs. Quarles against her husband was collusive and was an attempt on the part of insured to have his wife obtain a judgment to be enforced against the company under the policy, and that the company had denied liability under the policy and had declined to defend the action for damages or to recognize any liability to the insured on account of her claim. Both the insured and his wife were made parties to the suit, and a declaratory judgment was asked to the effect that the company was not bound to defend the action for damages or to pay any judgment that might be recovered therein.

While the suit for declaratory judgment was pending in the court below, the action for damages was tried and Mrs. Quarles recovered judgment therein against her husband, the insured, for $5,000. The judgment not having been paid within thirty days after its rendition, she brought an action at law against the company in the court below to recover the amount of the judgment under a provision of the policy permitting, under such circumstances, suit on the policy by the person injured. After the last-mentioned action had been instituted, a motion to dismiss, which had been theretofore filed by the defendants in the suit for declaratory judgment, was brought up for hearing; and, upon the trial judge's intimating that he would allow the motion, the company filed an amendment to its bill setting up the rendition of the judgment in favor of Mrs. Quarles and the institution of the action against the company to recover the amount thereof under the terms of the policy. The motion to dismiss was thereupon renewed and was allowed, upon the ground that the granting of a declaratory judgment was a matter resting in the court's sound discretion and that the situation was not one which justified the granting of the relief prayed in the exercise of that discretion. As a basis for this action the court found that the company had already acted upon its conception of its rights by declining to defend the action brought by Mrs. Quarles against her husband, that the controversy was one that could more properly be adjudicated in the action at law which Mrs. Quarles had instituted and which the company saw in prospect when it filed its bill, and that a declaration of the rights of the parties would not necessarily dispose of the entire controversy.

We think that the action of the judge was clearly correct. The federal Declaratory Judgment Act (Jud.Code ? 274d, 28 U.S.C.A. ? 400) is not one which adds to the jurisdiction of the court, but is a procedural statute which provides an additional remedy for use in those cases and controversies of which the federal courts already have jurisdiction. Aetna

92 F.2d 324
Life Ins. Co. v. Haworth, 300 U.S. 227, 57 S.Ct. 461, 81 L.Ed. 617, 108 A.L.R. 1000. This being true, there is no ground for applying the settled rule, well stated in Cohens v. Virginia, 6 Wheat. 264, 404, 5 L. Ed. 257, that the courts may not decline the exercise of jurisdiction conferred upon them. The question is not as to whether jurisdiction shall be assumed but as to whether, in exercising that jurisdiction, a discretion exists with respect to granting the remedy prayed for. No one would question the power of the federal courts to grant injunctions in proper cases; but nothing is better settled than that whether or not injunctive relief shall be granted is a matter resting in the sound discretion of the trial judge.1 The...

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593 practice notes
  • Reifer v. Westport Ins. Corp., No. 13–2880.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • April 29, 2014
    ...Homes, Inc., 15 F.3d 371, 377 (4th Cir.1994); Mitcheson v. Harris, 955 F.2d 235, 237–40 (4th Cir.1992); Aetna Cas. & Sur. Co. v. Quarles, 92 F.2d 321, 325 (4th Cir.1937)). In the Fifth Circuit, district courts must consider “(1) whether there is a pending state action in which all of the ma......
  • Firemen's Ins. Co. v. Kline & Son Cement Repair, No. CIV. 3:06CV425.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Virginia)
    • February 13, 2007
    ...afford relief from uncertainty and insecurity with respect to rights, status and other legal relations." Aetna Cas. & Sur. Co. v. Quarles, 92 F.2d 321, 324 (4th Cir.1937) (citation omitted). Although Supreme Court precedent has not "draw[n] the brightest of lines between those declaratory-j......
  • Dababnah v. West Virginia Bd. of Medicine, No. Civ.A. 5:98-0639.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Southern District of West Virginia
    • May 11, 1999
    ...of discretion under the Declaratory Judgment Act: First, a district court must consider the Quarles [Aetna Cas. & Sur. Co. v. Quarles, 92 F.2d 321 (4th Cir.1937) ] criteria of whether the federal (i) "`will serve a useful purpose in clarifying and settling the legal relations in issue,'" an......
  • Gaston v. LexisNexis Risk Solutions, Inc., CIVIL ACTION NO. 5:16-CV-00009-KDB-DCK
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Western District of North Carolina
    • September 2, 2020
    ...rise to the proceeding." Centennial Life Ins. Co. v. Poston , 88 F.3d 255, 256 (4th Cir. 1996) (quoting Aetna Cas. & Sur. Co. v. Quarles , 92 F.2d 321, 325 (4th Cir. 1937) ). In short, "declaratory judgments are designed to declare rights so that parties can conform their conduct to avoid f......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
593 cases
  • Reifer v. Westport Ins. Corp., No. 13–2880.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • April 29, 2014
    ...Homes, Inc., 15 F.3d 371, 377 (4th Cir.1994); Mitcheson v. Harris, 955 F.2d 235, 237–40 (4th Cir.1992); Aetna Cas. & Sur. Co. v. Quarles, 92 F.2d 321, 325 (4th Cir.1937)). In the Fifth Circuit, district courts must consider “(1) whether there is a pending state action in which all of the ma......
  • Firemen's Ins. Co. v. Kline & Son Cement Repair, No. CIV. 3:06CV425.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Virginia)
    • February 13, 2007
    ...afford relief from uncertainty and insecurity with respect to rights, status and other legal relations." Aetna Cas. & Sur. Co. v. Quarles, 92 F.2d 321, 324 (4th Cir.1937) (citation omitted). Although Supreme Court precedent has not "draw[n] the brightest of lines between those declaratory-j......
  • Dababnah v. West Virginia Bd. of Medicine, No. Civ.A. 5:98-0639.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Southern District of West Virginia
    • May 11, 1999
    ...of discretion under the Declaratory Judgment Act: First, a district court must consider the Quarles [Aetna Cas. & Sur. Co. v. Quarles, 92 F.2d 321 (4th Cir.1937) ] criteria of whether the federal (i) "`will serve a useful purpose in clarifying and settling the legal relations in issue,'" an......
  • Gaston v. LexisNexis Risk Solutions, Inc., CIVIL ACTION NO. 5:16-CV-00009-KDB-DCK
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Western District of North Carolina
    • September 2, 2020
    ...rise to the proceeding." Centennial Life Ins. Co. v. Poston , 88 F.3d 255, 256 (4th Cir. 1996) (quoting Aetna Cas. & Sur. Co. v. Quarles , 92 F.2d 321, 325 (4th Cir. 1937) ). In short, "declaratory judgments are designed to declare rights so that parties can conform their conduct to avoid f......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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