Woods v. Interstate Realty Co 465

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtDOUGLAS
Citation337 U.S. 535,93 L.Ed. 1524,69 S.Ct. 1235
PartiesWOODS v. INTERSTATE REALTY CO. No 465
Decision Date20 June 1949

337 U.S. 535
69 S.Ct. 1235
93 L.Ed. 1524
WOODS

v.

INTERSTATE REALTY CO.

No 465.
Argued March 30, 31, 1949.
Decided June 20, 1949.

Mr. P. H. Eager, Jr., Jackson, Miss., for petitioner.

Messrs. Phil Stone, Oxford, Miss., John A. Osoinach, Memphis, Tenn., for respondent.

Mr. Justice DOUGLAS delivered the opinion of the Court.

This case was brought in the District Court for Mississippi on the grounds of diversity of citizenship. Respondent, a Tennessee corporation, sued petitioner, a

Page 536

resident of Mississippi, for a broker's commission alleged to be due for the sale of real estate of petitioner in Mississippi. The District Court found on motion for summary judgment that the contract was void under Mississippi law, since respondent was doing business in Mississippi without qualifying under a Mississippi statute.1 It therefore dismissed the complaint with prejudice.

The Court of Appeals reversed. It reviewed the Mississippi decisions under the Mississippi statute and concluded that the contract was not void but only unenforcible in the Mississippi courts. It held in reliance on David Lupton's Sons Co. v. Automobile Club of America, 225 U.S. 489, 32 S.Ct. 711, 56 L.Ed. 1177, Ann.Cas.1914A, 699, that the fact that respondent could not sue in the Mississippi courts did not close the doors of the federal court sitting in that State. Accordingly it reversed the judgment of the District Court. 168 F.2d 701.

The case is here on a petition for writ of certiorari which we granted because of the seeming conflict of that holding with our recent ruling in Angel v. Bullington, 330 U.S. 183, 67 S.Ct. 657, 91 L.Ed. 832.

If the Lupton's Sons case controls, it is clear that the Court of Appeals was right in allowing the action to be maintained in the federal court. In that case a New York statute provided that no foreign corporation could 'maintain any action in this state' without a certificate that it had qualified to do business there. The Court held that a contract on which the corporation could not

Page 537

sue in the courts of New York by reason of that statute nevertheless could be enforced in the federal court in a diversity suit. The Court said, 225 U.S. at page 500, 32 S.Ct. at page 714, 56 L.Ed. 1177, Ann.Cas.1914A, 699, 'The state could not prescribe the qualifications of suitors in the courts of the United States, and could not deprive of their privileges those who were entitled under the Constitution and laws of the United States to resort to the Federal courts for the enforcement of a valid contract.'

We said in Angel v. Bullington that the case of Lupton's Sons had become 'obsolete' insofar as it was 'based on a view of diversity jurisdiction which came to an end with Erie Railroad Co. v. Tompkins, 304 U.S. 64, 58 S.Ct. 817, 82 L.Ed. 1188, 114 A.L.R. 1487.' 330 U.S. at page 192, 67 S.Ct. at page 662, 91 L.Ed. 832. Bullington had sued Angel in a North Carolina court for a deficiency judgment on the sale of realty under a deed of trust. The Supreme Court of North Carolina dismissed the action because of a North Carolina statute which disallowed a deficiency judgment in such a case and which the North Carolina Supreme Court construed to be 'a limitation of the jurisdiction of the courts of this state.' Bullington v. Angel, 220 N.C. 18, 16 S.E.2d 411, 412, 136 A.L.R. 1054. Thereafter Bullington sued in the federal court of North Carolina by reason of diversity of citizenship. We held that that suit could not be maintained because (1) the prior suit was res judicata; and (2) the policy of Erie R. Co. v. Tompkins precluded maintenance in the federal court in diversity cases of suits to which the State ad closed its courts.

The Court of Appeals concluded that the latter reason was argumentary, the real basis of the decision being that Bullington was denied recovery on the doctrine of res judicata. But where a decision rests on two or more grounds, none can be relegated to the category of obiter dictum. United States v. Title...

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423 practice notes
  • Brand Distributors, Inc. v. Insurance Co. of No. Am., Civ. A. No. 74-28-N.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Virginia)
    • October 2, 1974
    ...and must follow the law of the State. C.I.R. v. Stern, 357 U.S. 39, 78 S.Ct. 1047, 2 L. Ed.2d 1126 (1958); Woods v. Interstate Realty Co., 337 U.S. 535, 69 S.Ct. 1235, 93 L.Ed. 1524 (1949); Angel v. Bullington, 330 U.S. 183, 67 S.Ct. 657, 91 L.Ed. 832 (1947); St. Paul Fire and Marine Ins. C......
  • Arrowsmith v. United Press International, No. 73
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • June 11, 1963
    ...reasons there expressed, Angel v. Bullington, 330 U.S. 183, 191-192, 67 S.Ct. 657, 91 L.Ed. 832 (1947);7 Woods v. Interstate Realty Co., 337 U.S. 535, 69 S.Ct. 1235, 93 L.Ed. 1524 (1949),8 appear to point in precisely the opposite direction from the dissent here; it seems immaterial that in......
  • Export Group v. Reef Industries, Inc., No. 93-56022
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • February 10, 1995
    ..."[W]here a decision rest on two or more grounds, none can be relegated to the category of obiter dictum." Woods v. Interstate Realty Co., 337 U.S. 535, 537, 69 S.Ct. 1235, 1236-37, 93 L.Ed. 1524 (1949) (quoted in English v. United States, 42 F.3d 473, 485 (9th Cir.1994)); Russell v. Commiss......
  • Elec. Contractors, Inc. v. Dep't of Educ., No. 18525.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • January 17, 2012
    ...test and concluding, after thorough analysis, that neither prong was met in that case). 7. See also, e.g., Woods v. Interstate Realty Co., 337 U.S. 535, 537, 69 S.Ct. 1235, 93 L.Ed. 1524 (1949) (“where a decision rests on two or more grounds, none can be relegated to the category of obiter ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
423 cases
  • Brand Distributors, Inc. v. Insurance Co. of No. Am., Civ. A. No. 74-28-N.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Virginia)
    • October 2, 1974
    ...and must follow the law of the State. C.I.R. v. Stern, 357 U.S. 39, 78 S.Ct. 1047, 2 L. Ed.2d 1126 (1958); Woods v. Interstate Realty Co., 337 U.S. 535, 69 S.Ct. 1235, 93 L.Ed. 1524 (1949); Angel v. Bullington, 330 U.S. 183, 67 S.Ct. 657, 91 L.Ed. 832 (1947); St. Paul Fire and Marine Ins. C......
  • Arrowsmith v. United Press International, No. 73
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • June 11, 1963
    ...reasons there expressed, Angel v. Bullington, 330 U.S. 183, 191-192, 67 S.Ct. 657, 91 L.Ed. 832 (1947);7 Woods v. Interstate Realty Co., 337 U.S. 535, 69 S.Ct. 1235, 93 L.Ed. 1524 (1949),8 appear to point in precisely the opposite direction from the dissent here; it seems immaterial that in......
  • Export Group v. Reef Industries, Inc., No. 93-56022
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • February 10, 1995
    ..."[W]here a decision rest on two or more grounds, none can be relegated to the category of obiter dictum." Woods v. Interstate Realty Co., 337 U.S. 535, 537, 69 S.Ct. 1235, 1236-37, 93 L.Ed. 1524 (1949) (quoted in English v. United States, 42 F.3d 473, 485 (9th Cir.1994)); Russell v. Commiss......
  • Elec. Contractors, Inc. v. Dep't of Educ., No. 18525.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • January 17, 2012
    ...test and concluding, after thorough analysis, that neither prong was met in that case). 7. See also, e.g., Woods v. Interstate Realty Co., 337 U.S. 535, 537, 69 S.Ct. 1235, 93 L.Ed. 1524 (1949) (“where a decision rests on two or more grounds, none can be relegated to the category of obiter ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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