United States v. Seigel

Decision Date09 February 1948
Docket NumberNo. 9616.,9616.
Citation83 US App. DC 88,168 F.2d 143
PartiesUNITED STATES v. SEIGEL.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — District of Columbia Circuit

Mr. Sheldon E. Bernstein, Attorney, Department of Justice, of Washington D.C., with whom Mr. George Morris Fay, United States Attorney, and Mr. Sidney S. Sachs, Assistant United States Attorney, both of Washington, D. C., were on the brief, for appellant.

Mr. Bernard Margolius, of Washington, D.C., with whom Mr. Joseph B. Danzansky, of Washington, D.C., was on the brief, for appellee.

Before EDGERTON, WILBUR K. MILLER, and PRETTYMAN, Associate Justices.

PRETTYMAN, Associate Justice.

Chester Bowles, as Administrator of the Office of Price Administration, and on behalf of the United States, brought a civil action in the District Court against the present appellee and another, for an injunction and for treble damages for alleged sales of meat at prices in excess of the lawful ceiling prices under Emergency Price Control Regulations.1 The action was dismissed as to the other defendant, and the present appellee answered the complaint.

Bowles resigned from office effective February 25, 1946. More than a year passed, and no action was proposed or taken to substitute another party plaintiff or to continue or maintain the action, or to show the court that there was a need for so continuing or maintaining the action. Therefore, on April 18, 1947, appellee-defendant moved to dismiss the action upon authority of Rule 25(d) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, 28 U.S.C.A. following section 723c, and of Section 780, Title 28, of the United States Code. Still no action was proposed or taken by the United States or by anyone else to substitute a party plaintiff. The District Court granted the motion. Thereupon the United States, describing itself as "the real party in interest" in the case, but without seeking to be substituted as a party to the proceeding, filed a notice of appeal to this court. The transcript of the record was filed in this court August 1, 1947. On September 10, 1947, the United States filed in this court a motion to substitute itself "as nominal plaintiff-appellant" in the cause. Appellee moved to dismiss the appeal, upon the ground that no appeal had been taken by any party to the action. Disposition of the motions was reserved until argument upon the merits.

The United States says that the appeal is taken under Section 101, Title 17, of the District of Columbia Code. That statute gives the right of appeal only to parties to the action. It reads, "Any party aggrieved * * * may appeal * * *." Rule 73(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that "a party may appeal". Rule 17(a) of the same Rules provides:

"Every action shall be prosecuted in the name of the real party in interest; but * * * a party authorized by statute may sue in his own name without joining with him the party for whose benefit the action is brought; * * *"

The latter clause describes what Bowles did in this case. The statute authorized him, the Administrator, to institute the action on behalf of the United States. He did so without joining the United States with him. The United States was never a party to the record in the court below. It never made any attempt to become a party. Without being or attempting to become a party, it simply filed a notice of appeal.

It has long been settled that one who is not a party to a record and judgment is not entitled to appeal therefrom.2 In at least two cases, the Supreme Court has applied that rule to states which have attempted to appeal in actions in which they were the real parties in interest although the parties to the records were state agencies. In South Carolina v. Wesley,3 the Court granted a motion to dismiss, saying, "The state was not a party to the record in the circuit court and did not become a party by intervention, pro interesse suo or otherwise, but expressly refused to submit its rights to the jurisdiction of the court." In United States ex rel. Louisiana v. Jack,4 the State claimed title and beneficial interest in the land in question, the nominal party being a levee district created by the State. The Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal, using precisely the words we have used above in stating the rule.5 The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment.

It is sometimes said that not only parties to the record, but also their privies, may appeal, and that if the decree affects a person's interests, he may appeal.6 We have examined all the cases we have found cited to that proposition, and find that they concern the right to intervene and then appeal.7 Thus, in West v. Radio-Keith-Orpheum Corp.,8 Judge Learned Hand, speaking for the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, said that "it is indeed well settled that generally speaking no person, not a party to a suit, may appeal. * * * But if the decree affects his interests, he is often allowed to appeal." In that case a receiver gave notice to all creditors that on a given day it would apply to the court for instructions. One West, a creditor, appeared and objected. After hearings in which all creditors participated, the court entered an order. West appealed. The question was whether he could appeal. The court held that he could, since he was actually present and participating in the proceeding below after appearance upon notice duly given him to do so. The court cited four cases to the above-quoted statement.9 All four concerned the rights of persons who had become in one way or another parties to the record in the trial court. Two concerned bidders at foreclosure sales, the courts holding that upon making a bid, the bidder became a party to the proceeding and was thereafter subject to the orders of the court in the case. One concerned the rights of bondholders to intervene in a foreclosure sale and thereafter to appeal. And the fourth concerned a person brought into the proceedings by court process at the instigation of the parties. Similarly, F. A. Mfg. Co. v. Hayden & Clemons10 concerned the status of the purchaser of a patent after a decree, who had filed a sworn petition to appeal, and a bond, in the court below, and the petition and the bond had been allowed in that court.

We have found no case, and the United States has cited none to us, in which a person who had taken no steps to become a party to the proceeding in the court below, was permitted to appeal. The decisions dealing with that situation are, as we have indicated, contra the right to appeal.

We emphasize that we are not dealing with the question whether the United States can move to be substituted in the court where the case is. Many cases are cited to us upon that point.11 Typical is Fleming v. Goodwin, 8 Cir., 1948, 165 F.2d 334. But none of those cases involves or touches upon the point we have here. In the case just mentioned, for example, Chester Bowles was the original plaintiff. While the case was pending in the District Court, Bowles resigned and his successor, Porter, moved to be substituted. That motion was denied, and the case was dismissed. Within the time when an appeal could be taken, Porter resigned and his successor, Fleming, moved the District Court to be substituted as plaintiff. While that motion was under advisement, Fleming, being then a party who had submitted himself to the jurisdiction of the court, and being a party to the record by reason of his motion for substitution, appealed. That took the case to the Circuit Court of Appeals. Later, the United States filed in that court, where the case properly was, a motion to be substituted, and the court granted the motion.12

But the question before us in the case at bar is whether the case is in this court — whether a person who was not a party to the record in the District Court and who made no effort to become a party there, can bring the case into this court simply by noting an appeal. He could not do so under the cases we have cited and discussed. If he could not, the case is not in this court and so a motion to substitute parties could not be entertained here.

Specifically, the question is whether Rule 17(a), governing the bringing of actions by parties other than the real party in interest, meant to rescind what has unquestionably been the rule and to provide that the real party at interest, on whose behalf an action is brought, need not formally become a party to the proceedings but can move in the case as though he were. Obviously, if he can appeal, he could, without becoming a party to the record, take any other action a party to the record could take. We can see nothing but chaos resulting from such a holding. Any exception which we might make in the case at bar would apply equally as well to any other person not joined as a party, but in whose behalf an action was instituted, and to all the other instances mentioned in Rule 17(a)executors, administrators, guardians, trustees, and parties with whom or in whose names contracts are made for the benefit of others.

A person who has not submitted himself to the jurisdiction of a court, and who has not presented to the court his claim of interest in the controversy, ought not to be allowed to appeal from the judgment. The slightest regard for an orderly adjudication of contesting rights dictates that conclusion. The Supreme Court, in the cases we have cited, thought this matter important. Rules of procedure such as the one here pertinent are not mere naked technicalities. As we recently had occasion to observe, reasonable adherence to clear, reasonable and known rules of procedure is essential to the administration of justice.13 Justice cannot be administered in chaos. Moreover, the administration of justice involves not only meticulous disposition of the conflicts in one particular case but the expeditious disposition of hundreds of cases. If the courts must stop to inquire where substantial justice on the merits...

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