Tribbette v. Illinois Cent. R. Co.

CourtMississippi Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtCAMPBELL, C. J.
Citation70 Miss. 182,12 So. 32
PartiesW. H. TRIBETTE ET AL. v. ILLINOIS CENTRAL RAILROAD CO
Decision Date05 December 1892

12 So. 32

70 Miss. 182

W. H. TRIBETTE ET AL.
v.
ILLINOIS CENTRAL RAILROAD CO

Supreme Court of Mississippi

December 5, 1892


FROM the chancery court of the first district of Hinds county, HON. H. C. CONN, Chancellor.

Reversed.

Calhoon & Green, for appellants.

A tort-feasor cannot invoke the jurisdiction of equity to enjoin suits begun at law for damages for the trespass growing out of a single past act, and compel the injured persons to join in one suit in equity, upon the sole ground of a common question of law and fact being involved. We submit that a careful examination of the authorities will show that this is the first case in England or America where a trespasser has obtained an injunction to shield him from actions at law for the tort on the ground of avoiding a multiplicity of suits.

1. To sustain the jurisdiction would not save a multiplicity of suits. The pleas are general denials of the declarations. Each defendant will be required by cross-bill to propound his claim with the same averments as in the declarations. The railroad company will then answer these, denying liability, and setting up contributory negligence or other affirmative matter. So the pleadings will present the same number of issues. Even if the question of negligence were a common one, there would have to be the same number of findings of fact. Besides, each issue presents a controverted question of liability, and each defendant is entitled to his jury trial. Scott v. Neely, 140 U.S. 106; Nevitt v. Gillespie, 1 How. (Miss.), 108. The allegation that a multiplicity of suits will be avoided is a conclusion of law, not a statement of fact.

Equity has no jurisdiction to enjoin, at the suit of the injured party, a suit for a single past trespass. Mills v. N. O. Seed Company, 65 Miss. 391; Rogers v. Whitfield, 26 Ib., 84; Blewitt v. Vaughn, 5 How., 418; Nevitt v. Gillespie, supra.

3. In no case will the jurisdiction be exercised to restrain pending suits until the right has been established at law by one or more trials. 10 Paige, 539; 10 Ga. 395; 3 Johns., 566; 2 Johns. Ch., 281; 54 N.Y. 162; 1 High, Injunctions, § 63; 2 Story on Eq. Jur., § 859. Obviously, one suit could not in this case determine all.

The injunction was granted and sustained in the court below, following the broad language of Pomeroy. 1 Pom. Eq. Jur., §§ 181, 243, 255, 256. While the language of this author is broad enough to cover this case, we respectfully submit that his "conclusions" are not justified by the authorities he cites. All the cases cited in § 256 of that text-book involve recognized equities outside of the multiplicity of suits. In such case, the doctrine has been applied in this state. See Coulson v. Harris, 43 Miss. 728; Richardson v. Scott, 47 Ib., 236; M. & O. R. R. Co. v. Moseley, 52 Ib., 127; Drysdale v. Pradat, 45 Ib., 445.

In none of the cases we have found has the jurisdiction been maintained solely because separate actions involve the same questions of law and fact. In this case the defendants could not be separately enjoined, and they have no community of interest in the subject-matter. In such case the injunction will not lie. 1 High, Injunctions, §§ 12, 61, 65.

In §§ 273, 274 Mr. Pomeroy, in summarizing the doctrine, does not mention a case like this. To sustain the jurisdiction would be against reason, and without the support of a single authority.

Williamson & Potter, on the same side.

It is apparent that the litigation involved in the suits at law cannot be lessened by sustaining the jurisdiction in equity. A distinct issue will have to be made between complainant and each defendant. The same amount of proof must be made, and depositions taken. The costs in the chancery court will be even greater than the aggregate costs in all the suits at law. Since the bill does not show how the harrassment of complainant will be diminished, and expense saved, it fails to show any grounds for invoking the jurisdiction of equity; for the remedy is complete and adequate at law. The doctrine that equity has no jurisdiction where the remedy of law is complete, applies to bills to prevent a multiplicity of suits. 6 Cal. 33; 1 Harr. Ch., 157; 1 Br. Ch. Rep., 200; 5 Blatch., 259; 7 Ala. 585; 43 Miss. 728; 45 Ib., 445; Ib., 705; 141 Mass. 92.

It is not a mere matter of convenience. Plaintiffs have the right to conduct their trials at law separately, by their own chosen counsel, and in the manner they desire. Each party is suing for his own property, for a different amount, and each case necessarily presents different questions.

As to the main question involved, we submit that equity has no jurisdiction. Strictly speaking, bills of peace are of two kinds: (1). To prevent the vexatious recurrence of litigation by a numerous class insisting upon the same right; (2) To prevent the same individual from reiterating an unsuccessful claim. Bispham's Equity, § 415; Adams' Equity, § 199. The bill in this case must come under the first division. See Pomeroy, Eq. Jur., § 268.

The doctrine contended for by appellee finds no support anywhere, except in the text of Pomeroy. We have carefully examined all the authorities cited by this author, and fail to find a single one that sustains the text.

Complainant comes into equity with no legal rights adjudicated, and with no equitable rights to assert. It cannot invoke the jurisdiction to enjoin defendants separately, so we submit that the jurisdiction does not obtain.

Brame & Alexander, on the same side.

Mayes & Harris, for appellee.

The jurisdiction of equity to prevent multiplicity of suits was properly invoked in this case. The doctrine is clearly set forth in 1 Pomeroy on Eq. Jur., §§ 243-274.

There is no authority for the contention that the original rule does not apply in favor of a tort-feasor; otherwise the distinction would have found some expression in the authorities. It is contrary to the policy of the law to favor this class of litigation. The court, in exercising this jurisdiction, will not be deterred by the fact that the suits enjoined are for trespass. We refer the court to Grand Junction Canal Co. v. Dimes, 42 Eng. Ch., 38; 33 Fed. R., 629; 30 N.J.Eq. 154; 54 N.Y. 154; 2 Story on Eq. Jur., §§ 794-799; 1 Pom., Eq. Jur., § 254, note 1.

The actions enjoined in this case are for merely compensatory damages. The value of the property may well be adjudicated in the chancery court, and, as a matter of fact, can be more accurately ascertained by the chancery court, acting through its master, than by a jury.

The right of trial by jury is not involved on this appeal. If, on the hearing, the court holds a jury trial proper, it can be awarded.

Argued orally by M. Green and C. M. Williamson for appellants, and E. Mayes, for appellee.

OPINION

[70 Miss. 186] CAMPBELL, C. J.

A number of different owners of property in the town of Terry, destroyed by fire from sparks emitted by an engine of the appellee, severally sued in the circuit court to recover of the appellee damages for their respective losses by said fire, alleged to have resulted from the negligence of the defendant. While these actions were pending, the appellee exhibited its bill against the several plaintiffs, averring that no liability, as to it, arose by reason of the fire, which arose, not from any negligence or wrong of it or its servants, but from the fault of others, for which it is not responsible; and that the plaintiffs in the different actions are wrongfully seeking to recover damages by their several actions, all of which grew out of the same occurrence, and depend for their solution upon the same questions of fact and of law. Wherefore, to avoid...

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82 practice notes
  • Anderson v. Love, 30829
    • United States
    • Mississippi Supreme Court
    • February 26, 1934
    ...202 N.W. 391; Trolio v. Nichols, 133 So. 207; Tchula Commercial Co. v. Jackson, 111 So. 874; Tribette et al. v. Illinois Central Railroad, 70 Miss. 182, 12 So. 32, 19 L. R. A. 660, 35 Am. St. Rep. 642. We think the statute which authorizes the bank commissioner to proceed either in law or i......
  • Henry, Ins. Com'r v. Donovan, 26446
    • United States
    • Mississippi Supreme Court
    • November 7, 1927
    ...fact, but that alone is insufficient to warrant a resort to equity, in order to prevent a multiplicity of suits. Tribette v. Railroad Co., 70 Miss. 182, 12 So. 32, 19 L. R. A. 660, 35 Am. St. Rep. 642; Telephone Co. v. Williamson, 101 Miss. 1, 57 So. 559. We will assume, but merely for the ......
  • Anderson v. Love, 30829
    • United States
    • Mississippi Supreme Court
    • December 5, 1933
    ...202 N.W. 391; Trolio v. Nichols, 133 So. 207; Tchula Commercial Co. v. Jackson, 111 So. 874; Tribette et al. v. Illinois Central Railroad, 70 Miss. 182, 12 So. 32, 19 L. R. A. 660, 35 Am. St. Rep. 642. We think the statute which authorizes the bank commissioner to proceed either in law or i......
  • Mo. Dist. Telegraph Co. v. S.W. Bell Tel. Co., No. 34562.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • March 18, 1936
    ...of law and fact does not warrant equity jurisdiction. Ballew Lbr. & Hdw. Co. v. Ry. Co., 288 Mo. 473, 232 S.W. 1015; Tribbette v. Ry. Co., 70 Miss. 182, 12 So. 32; Wagner v. Eisenmenger, 65 S.W. (2d) 108. (d) Therefore, there was a misjoinder of causes of action and parties defendant; the a......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
82 cases
  • Anderson v. Love, 30829
    • United States
    • Mississippi Supreme Court
    • February 26, 1934
    ...202 N.W. 391; Trolio v. Nichols, 133 So. 207; Tchula Commercial Co. v. Jackson, 111 So. 874; Tribette et al. v. Illinois Central Railroad, 70 Miss. 182, 12 So. 32, 19 L. R. A. 660, 35 Am. St. Rep. 642. We think the statute which authorizes the bank commissioner to proceed either in law or i......
  • Henry, Ins. Com'r v. Donovan, 26446
    • United States
    • Mississippi Supreme Court
    • November 7, 1927
    ...fact, but that alone is insufficient to warrant a resort to equity, in order to prevent a multiplicity of suits. Tribette v. Railroad Co., 70 Miss. 182, 12 So. 32, 19 L. R. A. 660, 35 Am. St. Rep. 642; Telephone Co. v. Williamson, 101 Miss. 1, 57 So. 559. We will assume, but merely for the ......
  • Anderson v. Love, 30829
    • United States
    • Mississippi Supreme Court
    • December 5, 1933
    ...202 N.W. 391; Trolio v. Nichols, 133 So. 207; Tchula Commercial Co. v. Jackson, 111 So. 874; Tribette et al. v. Illinois Central Railroad, 70 Miss. 182, 12 So. 32, 19 L. R. A. 660, 35 Am. St. Rep. 642. We think the statute which authorizes the bank commissioner to proceed either in law or i......
  • Mo. Dist. Telegraph Co. v. S.W. Bell Tel. Co., No. 34562.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • March 18, 1936
    ...of law and fact does not warrant equity jurisdiction. Ballew Lbr. & Hdw. Co. v. Ry. Co., 288 Mo. 473, 232 S.W. 1015; Tribbette v. Ry. Co., 70 Miss. 182, 12 So. 32; Wagner v. Eisenmenger, 65 S.W. (2d) 108. (d) Therefore, there was a misjoinder of causes of action and parties defendant; the a......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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