Shamrock Oil Gas Corporation v. Sheets, No. 727

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtSTONE
Citation61 S.Ct. 868,313 U.S. 100,85 L.Ed. 1214
PartiesSHAMROCK OIL & GAS CORPORATION v. SHEETS et al
Decision Date28 April 1941
Docket NumberNo. 727

313 U.S. 100
61 S.Ct. 868
85 L.Ed. 1214
SHAMROCK OIL & GAS CORPORATION

v.

SHEETS et al.

No. 727.
Argued April 8, 1941.
Decided April 28, 1941.

Messrs. W. M. Sutton and R. C. Johnson, both of Amarillo, Tex., for petitioner.

[Argument of Counsel from pages 100-102 intentionally omitted]

Page 102

Mr. E. Byron Singleton, of Amarillo, Tex., for respondents.

Mr. Justice STONE delivered the opinion of the Court.

Respondent, a citizen of Texas and defendant in a court of that state set up, by way of counterclaim or

Page 103

cross-action against petitioner, the non-citizen plaintiff in the suit, a cause of action for damages in excess of $3,000 for breach of a contract, which was separate and distinct from the alleged indebtedness sued upon by the petitioner. The question for decision is whether the suit in which the counterclaim is filed, is one removable by the plaintiff to the federal district court on grounds of diversity of citizenship under § 28 of the Judicial Code, 28 U.S.C. § 71, 28 U.S.C.A. § 71.

The plaintiff in the state court removed the cause to the United States District Court for Northern Texas, which denied respondent's motion to remand. After a trial on the merits it gave judgment for petitioner, plaintiff below, both on the cause of action set up on its complaint in the suit and on the counterclaim. The Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed, 115 F.2d 880, and ordered the cause remanded to the state court on the ground that the plaintiff in the state court was not a 'defendant' within the meaning of § 28 of the Judicial Code, and so was not entitled to remove the cause under that section, which in terms authorizes the removal of a suit subject to its provisions only 'by the defendant or defendants therein'. We granted certiorari March 10, 1941, 312 U.S. 675, 61 S.Ct. 739, 85 L.Ed. —-, to resolve the conflict of the decision of the court below and that of Waco Hardware Co. v. Michig n Stove Co., 5 Cir., 91 F. 289; see West v. Aurora City, 6 Wall. 139, 18 L.Ed. 819, with numerous decisions of other circuit courts of appeals. Carson & Rand Lbr. Co. v. Holtzclaw, C.C., 39 F. 578; Bankers Securities Corp. v. Insurance Equities Corp., 3 Cir., 85 F.2d 856, 108 A.L.R. 960; Chambers v. Skelly Oil Co., 10 Cir., 87 F.2d 853, and cases cited in note 5 of the opinion below, 5 Cir., 115 F.2d 880, 882.

We assume for purposes of decision, that if the cause was removable by petitioner, the removal proceedings were regular and timely; that respondent's counterclaim stated an independent cause of action and that the amount

Page 104

in controversy in that action exceeded the jurisdictional amount, and we confine our decision to the question of statutory construction raised by the petition for certiorari.

Petitioner argues that although nominally a plaintiff in the state court it was in point of substance a defendant to the cause of action asserted in the counterclaim upon which, under Texas procedure, judgment could go against the plaintiff in the full amount demanded. Peck v. McKellar, 33 Tex. 234; Gimbel & Son v. Gomprecht & Co., 89 Tex. 497, 35 S.W. 470; Harris v. Schlinke, 95 Tex. 88, 65 S.W. 172. But at the outset it is to be noted that decision turns on the meaning of the removal statute and not upon the characterization of the suit or the parties to it by state statutes or decisions. Mason City & Ft. Dodge Ry. Co. v. Boynton, 204 U.S. 570, 27 S.Ct. 321, 51 L.Ed. 629. The removal statute which is nationwide in its operation, was intended to be uniform in its application, unaffected by local law definition or characterization of the subject matter to which it is to be applied. Hence the Act of Congress must be construed as setting up its own criteria, irrespective of local law, for determining in what instances suits are to be removed from the state to the federal courts. Cf. Burnet v. Harmel, 287 U.S. 103, 110, 53 S.Ct. 74, 77, 77 L.Ed. 199.

Section 28 of the Judicial Code authorizes removal of the suits to which it applies 'by the defendant or defendants therein'.1 During the period from 1875 to 1887

Page 105

the statute governing removals, 18 Stat. 470, 28 U.S.C.A. § 71 note, specifically gave to 'either party' to the suit the privilege of removal. At all other periods since the adoption of the Judiciary Act of 1789 the statutes governing removals have in terms given the privilege of removal to 'defendants' alone, except the Act of 1867, 14 Stat. 558, 28 U.S.C.A. § 71 note, continued as part of § 28 of the Judicial Code, which permits either plaintiff or defendant to remove where there is the additional ground of prejudice and local influence.

Section 12 of the Judiciary Act of 1789, 1 Stat. 79, 28 U.S.C.A. § 71 note, declared that 'if a suit be commenced in any state court against an alien * * * or * * * against a citizen of another state, and the matter in dispute exceeds' the jurisdictional amount 'and the defendant shall, at the time of entering his appearance in such state court, file a petition for the removal of the...

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3429 practice notes
  • HOUSING AUTHORITY OF CITY OF NEWARK v. Henry, Civ. No. 226-71.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. District of New Jersey
    • November 18, 1971
    ...and the general removal statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1441. The latter is strictly construed against removal. Shamrock Oil & Gas Corp. v. Sheets, 313 U.S. 100, 108, 61 S.Ct. 868, 85 L.Ed. 1214 (1941); Greater New York Mutual Insurance Co. v. Anchor Construction Co., 326 F.Supp. 245, 247 (E.D.Pa.1971......
  • Ramirez v. Allstate Vehicle & Prop. Ins. Co., CIVIL ACTION NO. 7:20-cv-00211
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Texas
    • September 29, 2020
    ...Tebon v. Travelers Ins. Co. , 392 F. Supp. 2d 894, 898 (S.D. Tex. 2005) (Jack, J.) (citing Shamrock Oil & Gas Corp. v. Sheets , 313 U.S. 100, 61 S.Ct. 868, 85 L.Ed. 1214 (1941) & Acuna v. Brown & Root, Inc. , 200 F.3d 335, 339 (5th Cir. 2000) ).52 Lorenz v. Tex. Workforce Comm'n , 211 F. Ap......
  • Smith v. Union Nat. Life Ins. Co., No. CIV.A. 5:01-cv-170(Br)(S).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Mississippi
    • November 7, 2001
    ...not jurisdictional, are to be strictly construed and enforced in favor of state court jurisdiction. Shamrock Oil & Gas Corp. v. Sheets, 313 U.S. 100, 108-09, 61 S.Ct. 868, 872, 85 L.Ed. 1214 (1941); McManus v. Glassman's Wynnefield, Inc., 710 F.Supp. 1043, 1045 (E.D.Pa.1989). There is nothi......
  • Powers v. South Central United Food & Commercial Workers Unions and Employers Health & Welfare Trust, No. 82-2319
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • October 31, 1983
    ...702 (1951) ("The Congress, in [Sec. 1441], carried out its purpose to abridge the right of removal"); Shamrock Oil & Gas Corp. v. Sheets, 313 U.S. 100, 108-09, 61 Page 763 S.Ct. 868, 872, 85 L.Ed. 1214 (1941) (referring to precursor to Sec. 1441); see also La Chemise Lacoste v. Alligator Co......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
3428 cases
  • HOUSING AUTHORITY OF CITY OF NEWARK v. Henry, Civ. No. 226-71.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. District of New Jersey
    • November 18, 1971
    ...and the general removal statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1441. The latter is strictly construed against removal. Shamrock Oil & Gas Corp. v. Sheets, 313 U.S. 100, 108, 61 S.Ct. 868, 85 L.Ed. 1214 (1941); Greater New York Mutual Insurance Co. v. Anchor Construction Co., 326 F.Supp. 245, 247 (E.D.Pa.1971......
  • Ramirez v. Allstate Vehicle & Prop. Ins. Co., CIVIL ACTION NO. 7:20-cv-00211
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Texas
    • September 29, 2020
    ...Tebon v. Travelers Ins. Co. , 392 F. Supp. 2d 894, 898 (S.D. Tex. 2005) (Jack, J.) (citing Shamrock Oil & Gas Corp. v. Sheets , 313 U.S. 100, 61 S.Ct. 868, 85 L.Ed. 1214 (1941) & Acuna v. Brown & Root, Inc. , 200 F.3d 335, 339 (5th Cir. 2000) ).52 Lorenz v. Tex. Workforce Comm'n , 211 F. Ap......
  • Smith v. Union Nat. Life Ins. Co., No. CIV.A. 5:01-cv-170(Br)(S).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Mississippi
    • November 7, 2001
    ...not jurisdictional, are to be strictly construed and enforced in favor of state court jurisdiction. Shamrock Oil & Gas Corp. v. Sheets, 313 U.S. 100, 108-09, 61 S.Ct. 868, 872, 85 L.Ed. 1214 (1941); McManus v. Glassman's Wynnefield, Inc., 710 F.Supp. 1043, 1045 (E.D.Pa.1989). There is nothi......
  • Powers v. South Central United Food & Commercial Workers Unions and Employers Health & Welfare Trust, No. 82-2319
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • October 31, 1983
    ...702 (1951) ("The Congress, in [Sec. 1441], carried out its purpose to abridge the right of removal"); Shamrock Oil & Gas Corp. v. Sheets, 313 U.S. 100, 108-09, 61 Page 763 S.Ct. 868, 872, 85 L.Ed. 1214 (1941) (referring to precursor to Sec. 1441); see also La Chemise Lacoste v. Alligator Co......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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