Chicago, Burlington Quincy Railway Company v. Erastus Willard, No. 105

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtHarlan
PartiesCHICAGO, BURLINGTON, & QUINCY RAILWAY COMPANY, Petitioner. v. ERASTUS W. WILLARD, Administrator of the Estate of Harold R. Wellman, Deceased
Docket NumberNo. 105
Decision Date10 April 1911

220 U.S. 413
31 S.Ct. 460
55 L.Ed. 521
CHICAGO, BURLINGTON, & QUINCY RAILWAY COMPANY, Petitioner.

v.

ERASTUS W. WILLARD, Administrator of the Estate of Harold R. Wellman, Deceased.

No. 105.
Submitted March 17, 1911.
Decided April 10, 1911.

Page 414

Messrs. Albert J. Hopkins and Chester M. Dawes for petitioner.

[Argument of Counsel from page 414 intentionally omitted]

Page 415

Messrs. Arthur J. Eddy, Emil C. Wetten, Patrick C. Haley, and Coll McNaughton for respondent.

[Argument of Counsel from page 415 intentionally omitted]

Page 416

Mr. Justice Harlan delivered the opinion of the court:

This suit originated in one of the courts of Illinois. It is a joint action against two railroad corporations,—the Chicago, Burlington, & Quincy Railway Company of Iowa, and the Chicago, Burlington, & Quincy Railroad Company of Illinois,—to recover damages alleged to have

Page 417

been caused by the negligence, carelessness, and improper conduct of the defendants by their agents and servants, whereby one Harold R. Wellman, the intestate of the plaintiff, was killed. the particular railroad from the operation of which the injuries in question arose is located wholly in Illinois, and the plaintiff, Willard, is a citizen of that state. The case involves a question, to be presently mentioned, of the jurisdiction of the circuit court. It also involves a question as to the power and duty of an appellate Federal court, where it appears, from the record, that a subordinate court has disposed of a case of which it could not properly take cognizance, but in respect to which the parties are silent.

The facts are: The defendant, the Iowa corporation, filed its petition for the removal of this cause to the circuit court of the United States. It appears that in November, 1901, the Chicago, Burglington, & Aquincy Railroad Company of Illinois leased, for a period of ninety-nine years from September 30th, 1901, to the Chicago, Burlington, & Quincy Railway Company of Iowa, its line of railway, and the rights, privileges, franchises, rights of way, yards, stations, tracks, and all appliances thereunto belonging, including in the lease that part of the road in Illinois described in the declaration; that the lessor company also assigned to the lessee company all other real and personal property not above mentioned, and all the rights, privileges, immunities, and franchises of the lessor company, except its franchise to be a corporation; that after December 21st, 1901, as well as on the day of the alleged injury and death of Wellman, the Iowa company operated and was then operating, controlling, and managing the railway lines of the Illinois company. At the time of the injuries complained of, neither the Illinois company nor any of its servants controlled, used, or operated the railroad engine or cars with which the deceased came into contact and was killed, but that the management, custody,

Page 418

control, and operation of the leased road and property was with the Iowa corporation exclusively; and that there was, it is alleged, a separable controversy between the Iowa company and the plaintiff, citizen of Illinois, which entitled that corporation to have the cause transferred for trial into the Federal court. It was further alleged that as the plaintiff was a citizen of Illinois, the two corporations were fraudulently and improperly joined as codefendants for the purpose of defeating the removal of the case to the Federal court.

The state court made an order recognizing the right of the Iowa corporation to have the cause removed to the Federal court. Subsequently, in the circuit court of the United States, the plaintiff moved to remand the case to the state court; but a few days thereafter he was given leave to withdraw that motion and to amend his declaration. He did not renew the motion to remand, but was given leave to amend his declaration, under which privilege he made extended amendments. But we do not perceive that those amendments affect the conclusion which, in our judgment, must be reached in the determination of the cause. The case remained throughout as a joint action against two companies, one of which was a corporation of the state of which the plaintiff was a citizen. What would have been the effect of any amendment made by the plaintiff, in the circuit court, eliminating or dismissing the lessor company, the Illinois corporation, altogether as a party defendant, thus leaving the case as presenting issues between citizens of different states only, we have no occasion now to determine. A trial was had in the circuit court, between the plaintiff and the two corporations, without objection as to the jurisdiction of that court, and at the conclusion of the evidence the jury, by direction of the court, returned a verdict for the defendants, and a judgment was accordingly rendered for them. The case went to the circuit court of appeals, where that

Page 419

court, being of opinion that the record disclosed a want of jurisdiction in the circuit court of the United States, the judgment was reversed, with directions to remand to the state court. That action was taken by the circuit court of appeals upon its own inspection of the record, and without any suggestion by either party as to a want of jurisdiction in the circuit court. The case is now here upon certiorari.

Had the circuit court jurisdiction of this case? As the plaintiff withdrew and did not renew his motion to remand to the state court, but went to trial in the Federal court without objection, was the circuit court of appeals, or is this court, precluded from considering the question of jurisdiction? These questions can have but one answer. It is firmly established by many decisions that in every case pending in an appellate Federal court of the United States, the inquiry must always be whether, under the Constitution and laws of the United States, that court of the court of original jurisdiction could take cognizance of the case. The leading authority on the subject is Mansfield C. & L. M. R. Co. v. Swan, 111 U. S. 379, 382, 28 L. ed. 462, 463, 4 Sup. C. Rep. 510, where the cases are fully reviewed. In that case the question of jurisdiction was raised in this court by the party at whose instance the subordinate Federal court exercised jurisdiction. But that fact was held not to be decisive; for, said Mr. Justice Matthews, speaking for the court, 'on every writ of error or appeal, the first and fundamental question is that of jurisdiction, first, of this court, and then of the court from which the record comes. This question the court is bound to ask and answer for itself, even when not otherwise suggested, and without respect to the relation of the parties to it.' This rule was said to be inflexible and without exception, and has been uniformly sustained by this court. In Ayers v. Watson, 113 U. S. 594, 598, 28 L. ed. 1093, 1094, 5 Sup. Ct. Rep. 641, Mr. Justice Bradley, speaking for the court, and referring to the 2d section (the removal section) of

Page 420

the act of 1875 [18 Stat. at L. 470, chap. 137, U. S. Com. Stat. 1901, p. 509], said: 'In the nature of things, the 2d section is jurisdictional, and the 3d is but modal and formal. The conditions of the 2d section are indispensable, and must be shown by the record; the directions of the 3d, though obligatory, may, to a certain extent, be waived. Diverse state citizenship of the parties, or some other jurisdictional fact prescribed by the 2d section, is absolutely essential, and cannot be waived, and the want of it will be error at any stage of the cause, even though assigned by the party at whose instance it was committed. Mansfield C. & L. M. R. Co. v. Swan, 111 U. S. 379, 28 L. ed. 462, 4 Sup. Ct. Rep. 510.' In Cameron v. Hodges, 127 U. S. 322, 326, 32 L. ed. 132, 134, 8 Sup. Ct. Rep. 1154, it was held to be an express requirement of the statute that the circuit court shall remand a case to the court from which it was removed whenever it appears that it is not one of which the Federal court can properly take cognizance. In Martin v. Baltimore & O. R. Co. (Gerling v. Baltimore & O. R. Co.) 151 U. S. 673, 689, 38 L. ed. 311, 317, 14 Sup. Ct. Rep. 533, after referring to the judiciary act of 1875, Mr. Justice Gray, speaking for the court, said: 'Diverse state citizenship of the parties, or some other jurisdictional fact prescribed by the 2d section, is absolutely essential, and cannot be waived, and the want of it will be error at any stage of the cause, even though assigned by the party at whose instance it was committed.' In Minnesota v. Northern Securities Co. 194 U. S. 48, 62, 63, 48 L. ed. 870, 877, 878, 24 Sup. Ct. Rep. 598, in which both parties insisted upon the jurisdiction of the circuit court, the...

To continue reading

Request your trial
195 practice notes
  • Boyle v. Neisner Bros., Inc., No. 23357.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • 5 de novembro de 1935
    ...Vadner v. Vadner, 259 Fed. 614; Miller v. Tele. Co., 279 Fed. 806; Tinker v. Bd. of Supervisors, 292 Fed. 863; C.B. & Q.R.R. v. Willard, 220 U.S. 413. (b) Because an involuntary nonsuit having been taken by the plaintiff, the case did not become removable. State ex rel. v. Miller (Mo.), 241......
  • Elliott v. Empire Natural Gas Co., No. 6413.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • 7 de março de 1925
    ...of no avail. Garvin v. Kogler (C. C. A.) 272 F. 442; Norton et al. v. Larney (C. C. A.) 289 F. 395; Chicago, B. & Q. Ry. Co. v. Willard, 220 U. S. 413, 31 S. Ct. 460, 55 L. Ed. 521; Vance v. W. A. Vandercook Co., 170 U. S. 648, 18 S. Ct. 674, 42 L. Ed. 1100; Lion Bonding Co. v. Karatz, 262 ......
  • O'CONNOR v. Slaker, No. 7767.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • 10 de outubro de 1927
    ...the state of Nebraska, even if the parties had consented that it be there brought. Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railway Co. v. Willard, 220 U. S. 413, 31 S. Ct. 460, 55 L. Ed. 521. This we think is the only question of any doubt in this case. We have been favored with no brief on the subjec......
  • Pullman Co v. Jenkins 13 8212 14, 1938, No. 210
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • 16 de janeiro de 1939
    ...even more distinct were the bases of liability of the lessee and lessor railroad companies in Chicago, B. & Q. Ry. Co. v. Willard, (220 U.S. 413, 31 S.Ct. 460, 55 L.Ed. 521) where the lessor was held on its obligation to the public of which it could not be relieved by virtue of a lease. * *......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
195 cases
  • Boyle v. Neisner Bros., Inc., No. 23357.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • 5 de novembro de 1935
    ...Vadner v. Vadner, 259 Fed. 614; Miller v. Tele. Co., 279 Fed. 806; Tinker v. Bd. of Supervisors, 292 Fed. 863; C.B. & Q.R.R. v. Willard, 220 U.S. 413. (b) Because an involuntary nonsuit having been taken by the plaintiff, the case did not become removable. State ex rel. v. Miller (Mo.), 241......
  • Elliott v. Empire Natural Gas Co., No. 6413.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • 7 de março de 1925
    ...of no avail. Garvin v. Kogler (C. C. A.) 272 F. 442; Norton et al. v. Larney (C. C. A.) 289 F. 395; Chicago, B. & Q. Ry. Co. v. Willard, 220 U. S. 413, 31 S. Ct. 460, 55 L. Ed. 521; Vance v. W. A. Vandercook Co., 170 U. S. 648, 18 S. Ct. 674, 42 L. Ed. 1100; Lion Bonding Co. v. Karatz, 262 ......
  • O'CONNOR v. Slaker, No. 7767.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • 10 de outubro de 1927
    ...the state of Nebraska, even if the parties had consented that it be there brought. Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railway Co. v. Willard, 220 U. S. 413, 31 S. Ct. 460, 55 L. Ed. 521. This we think is the only question of any doubt in this case. We have been favored with no brief on the subjec......
  • Pullman Co v. Jenkins 13 8212 14, 1938, No. 210
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • 16 de janeiro de 1939
    ...even more distinct were the bases of liability of the lessee and lessor railroad companies in Chicago, B. & Q. Ry. Co. v. Willard, (220 U.S. 413, 31 S.Ct. 460, 55 L.Ed. 521) where the lessor was held on its obligation to the public of which it could not be relieved by virtue of a lease. * *......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT