Crowley v. Allen, No. 22563-G.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Northern District of California
Writing for the CourtS. C. Masterson, of Richmond, Cal., for defendants Alvina Allen and others
Citation52 F. Supp. 850
PartiesCROWLEY, Alien Property Custodian, v. ALLEN et al.
Docket NumberNo. 22563-G.
Decision Date17 November 1943

52 F. Supp. 850

CROWLEY, Alien Property Custodian,
v.
ALLEN et al.

No. 22563-G.

District Court, N. D. California, S. D.

November 17, 1943.


52 F. Supp. 851

Frank J. Hennessy, U. S. Atty., and Thos. C. Lynch, Asst. U. S. Atty., both of San Francisco, Cal., A. Matt Werner, Gen. Counsel, Office of Alien Property Custodian, Geo. A. McNulty, Chief Alien Property Unit, War Division, Department of Justice, and Wallace H. Walker, Chief Trial Atty., Alien Property Unit, War Division, Department of Justice, all of Washington, D. C., and Harry LeRoy Jones, Sp. Asst. to Atty. Gen., for plaintiff.

S. C. Masterson, of Richmond, Cal., for defendants Alvina Allen and others.

Jackson Maddux, of San Francisco, Cal., for defendant San Francisco Bank.

Robert W. Kenny, Atty. Gen., and T. A. Westphal, Jr., Deputy Atty. Gen., amici curiae for State of California.

Matt Wahrhaftig, Atty. at Law, of Oakland, Cal., and H. W. Falk, Jr., Atty. at Law, of Ukiah, Cal., amicus curiae.

GOODMAN, District Judge.

Alvina Wagner, a resident of California, died June 6, 1942. By her last will and testament, dated December 23, 1941 and admitted to probate in the Superior Court of the State of California June 26, 1942, she bequeathed all her property (several parcels of real property in San Francisco California and some personal property of minor value) to two brothers, one sister and one niece, all nationals and residents of Germany. Six nieces and nephews, residents of California, petitioned the Superior Court as heirs of decedent for distribution of the estate to them, claiming that the German legatees were ineligible as beneficiaries under Section 259, 259.1 and 259.2 of the California Probate Code (effective July 1, 1941) which in substance provides that the right of aliens abroad to take real or personal property in the United States by will or descent, is conditioned upon the existence of a reciprocal right of Americans abroad and that such reciprocal right being absent, American heirs take. No determination of heirship has been made by the Superior Court.

On January 23, 1943, the plaintiff Alien Property Custodian, under the authority of Section 5 (b) of the Trading with the Enemy Act, as amended by Title III of the First War Powers Act, 1941, 50 U.S.C.A. Appendix, § 616, and Executive Order 9095 of July 6, 1942, 50 U.S.C.A.Appendix, § 6 note, by vesting order 762, vested in himself for the use of the United States all the right, title and interest of the German legatees in the estate of Alvina Wagner.

On April 6, 1943, plaintiff as Alien Property Custodian filed this action against The San Francisco Bank as executor of the Wagner will and the six claimant heirs, for a judgment vesting ownership of the property of the estate, subject to the payment of administration expenses, inheritance and estate taxes and debts of decedent, in plaintiff and determining that defendant heirs have no right or claim thereto and ordering defendant executor to deliver over the net estate to plaintiff.

By separate answers, the defendant executor and the individual defendants claim lack of jurisdiction of this court and allege that the individual defendants are entitled to inherit the property of the estate under California law. Defendants move to strike the complaint for lack of jurisdiction. Plaintiff moves for summary judgment in favor of plaintiff.1 Both motions have been argued and submitted. All parties agree that no question of fact is involved

52 F. Supp. 852
and that the cause may be determined on the motions submitted

The issues presented for determination are:

1. Has this court jurisdiction of the subject matter?

2. Is the cited California probate statute constitutional? If it is not, the property in probate should vest in plaintiff.

Plaintiff invokes the jurisdiction of this court under 36 Stat. 1091, 28 U.S.C.A. § 41(1) being a suit "of a civil nature * * * in equity, brought by the United States, or by any officer thereof authorized by law to sue," and the Trading with the Enemy Act (40 Stat. 411) 50 U.S.C.A. Appendix, § 17, (40 Stat. 425) whereby the District Courts "are given jurisdiction to make and enter * * * all such orders and decrees, and to issue such process as may be necessary and proper in the premises to enforce the provisions of this Act."

Defendants and amici curiae claim lack of jurisdiction asserting the action is in rem to determine title to property and would oust the state court of previously acquired jurisdiction of the res. Citing United States v. Bank of New York Co., 296 U.S. 463, 56 S.Ct. 343, 80 L.Ed. 331.

Section 5(b), the pertinent provision of the Trading with the Enemy Act, provides as follows:

"During the time of war or during any other period of national emergency declared by the President, the President may, through any agency that he may designate, or otherwise, and under such rules and regulations as he may prescribe, by means of instructions, licenses or otherwise—

* * * * * *

"B. Investigate, regulate, direct and compel, nullify, void, prevent or prohibit, any acquisition holding, withholding, use, transfer, withdrawal, transportation, importation or exportation of, or dealing in, or exercising any right, power, or privilege with respect to, or transactions involving, any property in which any foreign country or a national thereof has any interest, by any person, or with respect to any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States; and any property or interest of any foreign country or national thereof shall vest, when, as, and upon the terms, directed by the President, in such agency or person as may be designated from time to time by the President, and upon such terms and conditions as the President may prescribe such interest or property shall be held, used, administered, liquidated, sold, or otherwise dealt with in the interest of and for the benefit of the United States, * * *."

The Trading with the Enemy Act was originally enacted October 6, 1917, c. 106, 40 Stat. 411, was twice amended in 1918 (40 Stat. 459; 40 Stat. 1020); again amended in 1919 (41 Stat. 35); again amended in 1920 (41 Stat. 977); again amended in May 1940 (54 Stat. 179) and once more on December 18, 1941 by the First War Powers Act (55 Stat. 839). It is strictly a war measure, finding its authority in Art, 1, § 8, cl. 11 of the Constitution. Brown v. United States, 8 Cranch 110, 3 L.Ed. 504; Miller v. United States, 11 Wall. 268, 20 L.Ed. 135. By its terms, the President is granted wide authority to sequester, administer and dispose of alien enemy property in the United States and to proceed summarily and promptly to that end.

The judicial power, when properly...

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7 practice notes
  • Zschernig v. Miller, No. 21
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • January 15, 1968
    ...purpose of the statute was to prevent American assets from reaching hostile nations preparing for was on this country. Crowley v. Allen, 52 F.Supp. 850, 853 (D.C.N.D.Calif.). But when the case reached this Court, petitioner contended that the statute was invalid, not because of the legislat......
  • Tait v. Anderson Banking Company, No. IP 58-C-304.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of Indiana)
    • March 5, 1959
    ...491, 496, 66 S.Ct. at pages 297, 299. In that case, the custodian brought the suit in a United States district court Crowley v. Allen, 52 F.Supp. 850 seeking a judgment determining that the resident claimants had no interest in the estate, and that the custodian, by virtue of his vesting or......
  • Markham v. Allen, No. 60
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • January 7, 1946
    ...complaint, and on petitioner's motion for judgment on the pleadings, the district court gave judgment for petitioner, Crowley v. Allen, 52 F.Supp. 850. The court held that it had jurisdiction to enforce the vesting order of petitioner; that its jurisdiction is derived from the Constitution ......
  • Clark v. Allen, No. 626
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 9, 1947
    ...payment of administration and other expenses. The District Court granted judgment for the Custodian on the pleadings. Crowley v. Allen, 52 F.Supp. 850. The Circuit Court of Appeals reversed holding that the District Court was without jurisdiction of the subject matter. Allen v. Markham, 9 C......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
7 cases
  • Zschernig v. Miller, No. 21
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • January 15, 1968
    ...purpose of the statute was to prevent American assets from reaching hostile nations preparing for was on this country. Crowley v. Allen, 52 F.Supp. 850, 853 (D.C.N.D.Calif.). But when the case reached this Court, petitioner contended that the statute was invalid, not because of the legislat......
  • Tait v. Anderson Banking Company, No. IP 58-C-304.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of Indiana)
    • March 5, 1959
    ...491, 496, 66 S.Ct. at pages 297, 299. In that case, the custodian brought the suit in a United States district court Crowley v. Allen, 52 F.Supp. 850 seeking a judgment determining that the resident claimants had no interest in the estate, and that the custodian, by virtue of his vesting or......
  • Markham v. Allen, No. 60
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • January 7, 1946
    ...complaint, and on petitioner's motion for judgment on the pleadings, the district court gave judgment for petitioner, Crowley v. Allen, 52 F.Supp. 850. The court held that it had jurisdiction to enforce the vesting order of petitioner; that its jurisdiction is derived from the Constitution ......
  • Clark v. Allen, No. 626
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 9, 1947
    ...payment of administration and other expenses. The District Court granted judgment for the Custodian on the pleadings. Crowley v. Allen, 52 F.Supp. 850. The Circuit Court of Appeals reversed holding that the District Court was without jurisdiction of the subject matter. Allen v. Markham, 9 C......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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