Bankers Life Casualty Co v. Holland, No. 16

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtCLARK
Citation346 U.S. 379,98 L.Ed. 106,74 S.Ct. 145
Docket NumberNo. 16
Decision Date30 November 1953
PartiesBANKERS LIFE & CASUALTY CO. v. HOLLAND, Chief Judge of United States District Court of Southern District of Fla. et al

346 U.S. 379
74 S.Ct. 145
98 L.Ed. 106
BANKERS LIFE & CASUALTY CO.

v.

HOLLAND, Chief Judge of United States District Court of Southern District of Fla. et al.

No. 16.
Argued Oct. 12, 13, 1953.
Decided Nov. 30, 1953.

Mr. Charles F. Short, Jr., Chicago, Ill., for petitioners.

Mr. M. H. Blackshear, Jr., Atlanta, Ga., for respondents.

Mr. Justice CLARK delivered the opinion of the Court.

The question here is whether mandamus is an appropriate remedy to vacate a severance and transfer order entered by a district judge on the ground of improper venue, under 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a), 28 U.S.C.A. § 1406(a).1

Page 380

This case arises out of a treble damage action brought by petitioner, an Illinois insurance corporation, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, alleging a conspiracy to injure petitioner's business, in violation of the Sherman and Clayton Acts, 15 U.S.C.A. § 1 et seq. The complaint named as defendants the insurance commissioners of Georgia and Florida, one other individual, and four insurance companies residing and transacting business in the Southern District of Florida. The Georgia insurance commissioner, Cravey, was personally served in the Northern District of Florida and, without entering his appearance or waiving venue, moved to quash the summons and return of service and dismiss him from the action for improper venue.

The applicable venue statute for private treble damage actions brought under the antitrust laws, 15 U.S.C. § 15, 15 U.S.C.A. § 15, allows suit 'in any district court of the United States in the district in which the defendant resides or is found or has an agent * * *.' It is admitted that Commissioner Cravey was not a resident of the Southern District of Florida, but petitioner contends that the Commissioner 'was a member of a conspiracy whose other members were residing and carrying on the illegal business of the conspiracy in the Southern District of Florida, * * * that a conspiracy is a partnership and that co-conspirators are each other's agents * * *' and that the Commissioner therefore was 'found' and had 'agents' in the district, within the meaning of the statute. In furtherance of its theory that the Commissioner was 'found' in the district petitioner alleged overt acts committed by the Commissioner, as well as his codefendants, in the district where the suit was filed. The respondent judge held that the court had jurisdiction of the action and of the Commissioner, under Rule 4(f) of the Rules of Civil Procedure, 28 U.S.C.A., service of process having been had on him in the Northern District of Florida. The judge held, however, that venue was

Page 381

not properly laid and, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a), 28 U.S.C.A. § 1406(a), ordered the action as to Cravey severed and transferred to the Northern District of Georgia where Cravey resided. Petitioner then sought a writ of mandamus from the Court of Appeals to compel the respondent to vacate and set aside the order of severance and transfer. The Court of Appeals dismissed the petition for mandamus on the ground that it was not an appropriate remedy. 5 Cir., 199 F.2d 593. Because of the importance of the question in the effective administration of federal law we granted certiorari. 345 U.S. 933, 73 S.Ct. 796.

At the outset it appears to be agreed that the District Court had jurisdiction over Commissioner Cravey under the process served on him in the Northern District of Florida.2 However, petitioner contends that the respondent judge had 'power' to order the severance and transfer only if venue was improperly laid and that when venue is proper that 'power' does not exist. Petitioner insists that venue was proper on the theory aforesaid that the Commissioner was 'found' or had 'agents' in the district; that the severance and transfer order was therefore void but being interlocutory no appeal would lie; and that the only effective remedy is mandamus. While it admits that the order eventually may be reviewed on appeal from final judgment in the case, petitioner contends that insurmountable procedural difficulties requiring appeals from, and reversals of, the final judgments in both the Florida action and the severed action in Georgia render that remedy speculative, ineffective and

Page 382

inadequate in preventing needless expense, hardship and judicial inconvenience. Wherefore, it says, the extraordinary writ of mandamus is appropriate.

We are of the opinion that in the circumstances of this case the writ was inappropriate.

The All Writs Act grants to the federal courts the power to issue 'all writs necessary or appropriate in aid of their respective jurisdictions and agreeable to the usages and principles of law.' 28 U.S.C. § 1651(a), 28 U.S.C.A. § 1651(a). As was pointed out in Roche v. Evaporated Milk Ass'n, 1943, 319 U.S. 21, 26, 63 S.Ct. 938, 941, 87 L.Ed. 1185, the 'traditional use of the writ in aid of appellate jurisdiction both at common law and in the federal courts has been to confine an inferior court to a lawful exercise of its prescribed jurisdiction or to compel it to exercise its authority when it is its duty to do so.' Here, however, petitioner admits that the court had jurisdiction both of the subject matter of the suit and of the person of Commissioner Cravey and that it was necessary in the due course of the litigation for the respondent judge to rule on the motion. The contention is that in acting on the motion and ordering transfer he exceeded his legal powers and this error ousted him of jurisdiction. But jurisdiction need not run the gauntlet of reversible errors. The ruling on a question of law decisive of the issue presented by Cravey's motion and the replication of the petitioner was made in the course of the exercise of the court's jurisdiction to decide issues properly brought before it. Ex parte American Steel Barrel Co., 1913, 230 U.S. 35, 45—46, 33 S.Ct. 1007, 1010, 1011, 57 L.Ed. 1379; Ex parte Roe, 1914, 234 U.S. 70, 73, 34 S.Ct. 722, 723, 58 L.Ed. 1217. Its decision against petitioner, even if erroneous—which we do not pass upon—involved no abuse of judicial power, Roche v. Evaporated Milk Ass'n, supra, and is reviewable upon appeal after final judgment.3 If we applied the reasoning advanced by

Page 383

the petitioner, then every interlocutory order which is wrong might be reviewed under the All Writs Act. The office of a writ of mandamus would be enlarged to actually control the decision of the trial court rather than used in its traditional function of confining a court to its prescribed jurisdiction. In strictly circumscribing piecemeal appeal,4 Congress must have realized that in the course of judicial decision some interlocutory orders might be erroneous. The supplementary review power conferred on the courts by Congress in the All Writs Act is meant to be used only in the exceptional case where there is clear abuse of discretion or 'usurpation of judicial power' of the sort held to justify the writ in De Beers Consolidated Mines v. United States, 1945, 325 U.S. 212, 217, 65 S.Ct. 1130, 1133, 89 L.Ed. 1566. This is not such a case.

It is urged, however, that the use of the writ of mandamus is appropriate here to prevent 'judicial inconvenience and hardship' occasioned by appeal being delayed until after final judgment. But it is...

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565 practice notes
  • Mercantile National Bank At Dallas v. Langdeau Republic National Bank of Dallas v. Langdeau, Nos. 14
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • January 21, 1963
    ...(b), 1401; Greenberg v. Giannini, 140 F.2d 550, 552, 152 A.L.R. 966 (C.A.2d Cir.). See also, Bankers Life & Casualty Co. v. Holland, 346 U.S. 379, 384, 74 S.Ct. 145, 148, 98 L.Ed. 106. Similarly, even if all of the 145 defendants may not be sued in one proceeding in Dallas County with the s......
  • Caribe Trailer Systems v. Puerto Rico Maritime, Civ. A. No. 78-0435.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • April 19, 1979
    ...461 F.2d 1261 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 409 U.S. 950, 93 S.Ct. 272, 34 L.Ed.2d 221 (1972). See also Bankers Life & Cas. Co. v. Holland, 346 U.S. 379, 384, 74 S.Ct. 145, 98 L.Ed. 106 17 See Plaintiffs' Opposition to Motion to Dismiss Complaint filed by R. J. Reynolds Indus., Inc., McLean Ind......
  • PAS v. Travelers Ins. Co., Nos. 92-5510
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • October 14, 1993
    ...of [the judicial] power.' " Mallard, 490 U.S. at 309, 109 S.Ct. at 1822 (quoting respectively Bankers Life & Casualty Co. v. Holland, 346 U.S. 379, 383, 74 S.Ct. 145, 148, 98 L.Ed. 106 (1953) and DeBeers Consolidated Mines, Ltd. v. United States, 325 U.S. 212, 217, 65 S.Ct. 1130, 1133, 89 L......
  • Goulet v. Schweiker, Civ. A. No. 82-3.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. District of Vermont
    • February 24, 1983
    ...(citing Roche v. Evaporated Milk Assn., 319 U.S. 21, 26, 63 S.Ct. 938, 941, 87 L.Ed. 1185 (1943); Bankers Life & Casualty Co. v. Holland, 346 U.S. 379, 384, 74 S.Ct. 145, 148, 98 L.Ed. 106 (1953)). At the time the mandamus statute was enacted typical claims before the Secretary involved clo......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
566 cases
  • Mercantile National Bank At Dallas v. Langdeau Republic National Bank of Dallas v. Langdeau, Nos. 14
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • January 21, 1963
    ...(b), 1401; Greenberg v. Giannini, 140 F.2d 550, 552, 152 A.L.R. 966 (C.A.2d Cir.). See also, Bankers Life & Casualty Co. v. Holland, 346 U.S. 379, 384, 74 S.Ct. 145, 148, 98 L.Ed. 106. Similarly, even if all of the 145 defendants may not be sued in one proceeding in Dallas County with the s......
  • Caribe Trailer Systems v. Puerto Rico Maritime, Civ. A. No. 78-0435.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • April 19, 1979
    ...461 F.2d 1261 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 409 U.S. 950, 93 S.Ct. 272, 34 L.Ed.2d 221 (1972). See also Bankers Life & Cas. Co. v. Holland, 346 U.S. 379, 384, 74 S.Ct. 145, 98 L.Ed. 106 17 See Plaintiffs' Opposition to Motion to Dismiss Complaint filed by R. J. Reynolds Indus., Inc., McLean Ind......
  • PAS v. Travelers Ins. Co., Nos. 92-5510
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • October 14, 1993
    ...of [the judicial] power.' " Mallard, 490 U.S. at 309, 109 S.Ct. at 1822 (quoting respectively Bankers Life & Casualty Co. v. Holland, 346 U.S. 379, 383, 74 S.Ct. 145, 148, 98 L.Ed. 106 (1953) and DeBeers Consolidated Mines, Ltd. v. United States, 325 U.S. 212, 217, 65 S.Ct. 1130, 1133, 89 L......
  • Goulet v. Schweiker, Civ. A. No. 82-3.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. District of Vermont
    • February 24, 1983
    ...(citing Roche v. Evaporated Milk Assn., 319 U.S. 21, 26, 63 S.Ct. 938, 941, 87 L.Ed. 1185 (1943); Bankers Life & Casualty Co. v. Holland, 346 U.S. 379, 384, 74 S.Ct. 145, 148, 98 L.Ed. 106 (1953)). At the time the mandamus statute was enacted typical claims before the Secretary involved clo......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
3 books & journal articles
  • Behind the Scenes of the Trademark Modernization Act: An Interview with Stephen Lee
    • United States
    • Landslide Nbr. 14-1, September 2021
    • September 1, 2021
    ...379 U.S. 104, 110 (1964) (citing Ex parte Fahey, 332 U.S. 258, 259–60 (1947)). 13. Id. (quoting Bankers Life & Cas. Co. v. Holland, 346 U.S. 379, 383 (1953)). 14. NFC Tech. LLC v. HTC Am., Inc., No. 2:13-CV-1058-WCB, 2015 WL 1069111, at *2 (E.D. Tex. Mar. 11, 2015); British Telecomms. P......
  • The Law of District Court Stays for USPTO Proceedings
    • United States
    • Landslide Nbr. 14-1, September 2021
    • September 1, 2021
    ...379 U.S. 104, 110 (1964) (citing Ex parte Fahey, 332 U.S. 258, 259–60 (1947)). 13. Id. (quoting Bankers Life & Cas. Co. v. Holland, 346 U.S. 379, 383 (1953)). 14. NFC Tech. LLC v. HTC Am., Inc., No. 2:13-CV-1058-WCB, 2015 WL 1069111, at *2 (E.D. Tex. Mar. 11, 2015); British Telecomms. P......
  • EXTRAORDINARY WRIT OR ORDINARY REMEDY? MANDAMUS AT THE FEDERAL CIRCUIT.
    • United States
    • Washington University Law Review Vol. 100 Nbr. 2, October 2022
    • October 1, 2022
    ...course to ... deny transfer ... despite there being no new facts presented. ..."). (10.) See Bankers Life & Cas. Co. v. Holland, 346 U.S. 379, 383 (1953) (noting that mandamus "is meant to be used only in the exceptional case where there is clear abuse of discretion or 'usurpa......

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