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Opinion of the Court.
suance of its charter, the plaintiff in error, on the 23d of November, 1881, filed its bill in the Circuit Court of the United States for the Eastern District of Louisiana against the defendant in error, setting up its exclusive right and privilege as claimed by it under its original charter and grant, alleging that the defendant was about to violate the same, and praying for an injunction to restrain that company from carrying out its purpose. On the 29th of December, 1881, after notice and hearing, the judges of that court granted the injunction as prayed for pendente lite. On final hearing on the 8th of May, 1882, this injunction was made perpetual. On May 5, 1884, this decree of the Circuit Court was reversed by this court by a decision reported in 111 U. S. 746, on the ground that the exclusive right originally granted to the plaintiff in error was valid only as an exercise of the police power of the State, and was of that character, having reference to the public health, that it could not be made the subject of contract, protected against subsequent legislation by the Constitution of the United States.
In granting the preliminary injunction referred to, the plaintiff in error was required to and gave an injunction bond in the sum of $8000, with Bertrand Saloy as surety, reciting the allowance of the injunction pendente lite, and conditioned to pay to the defendant in said injunction all such damages as it might suffer or had suffered in consequence thereof. The present action was begun in the Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans on May 28, 1884, by the defendant in error against the plaintiff in error and Bertrand Saloy, by a petition in which a recovery is sought upon the bond against the defendants in solido for the sum of $8000, with five per cent. interest from judicial demand for a breach of its condition, and against the company alone for the further sum of $70,000 damages, with five per cent. interest from the date of the verdict, on the alleged ground of a malicious prosecution by the complainant therein of the said bill in equity for an injunction. This cause came on for trial by a jury when there was a verdict against both defendants for $6588.80, with interest, and against the Crescent City Live-Stock Landing and Slaughter-House
Opinion of the Court.
Company alone, upon the plea of malicious prosecution, for the sum of $12,500 damages, and the further sum of $2500 attorneys' fees. Upon the trial the defendant relied upon the decree of the Circuit Court of the United States, granting and perpetuating the injunction, as conclusive proof of probable cause for the institution and prosecution of the suit complained of. The rulings of the Civil District Court upon this defence are set out in several bills of exception. In one of them it appears that the judge left it to the jury to determine whether the decree of the Circuit Court constituted probable cause or not, adding that in his opinion it was both remarkable and extraordinary, and, as explanatory of that, the bill of exceptions signed by him contains the following statement: "I described the action of the Federal court as remarkable and extraordinary,' because it set at naught the decisions of the state courts of Louisiana, of the Supreme Court of Louisiana, set at defiance the positive mandate of the state constitution, and because it was held by the unanimous Supreme Court of the United States to have involved a usurpation of jurisdiction; such action was truly remarkable and extraordinary,' though not without deplorable precedent."
It also appears that the defendants requested the judge to charge the jury as follows:
"A plaintiff, whose asserted right was conferred by an act of legislature and has been in force for a number of years, has. a right to test the legality of a subsequent repeal of said right, when the validity of such repeal or modification has not been finally settled, and the plaintiff is advised by competent coun-sel that the repeal is invalid. In such a case the plaintiff has. probable cause for asserting his rights and instituting an action for such purpose. If, in the action instituted, the lower court being the Circuit Court of the United States, presided over by two judges, render a judgment in favor of the plaintiff, the existence of probable cause for instituting such suit is demonstrated by the finding of the judges of the Circuit Court, although their judgment was reversed on appeal."
This charge the judge refused to give, on the ground that it was unsound in law. Judgment was rendered on the verdict
Opinion of the Court.
February 24, 1885, and the cause was removed by a suspensive appeal to the Supreme Court of Louisiana for the final decision. of that court, by which, on December 14, 1885, it was affirmed.
It is contended by counsel for the defendant in error, that in examining the record in this case, this court will only consider the opinion and judgment of the Supreme Court of Louisiana in order to ascertain if the authority relied upon by the plaintiff in error was wrongfully disregarded by that tribunal, and that without reference to the rulings of the inferior court, the opinion of the Supreme Court being made a part of the record by law for that purpose. Such appears to be the law of Louisiana as recognized by the decisions of this court. Louisiana Code Pract. Art. 905; Parks v. Turner, 12 How. 39, 43; Hennen's Digest, p. 92, No. 3; Cousin v. Blanc's Executors, 19 How. 202; Grand Gulf Railroad and Banking, Company v. Marshall, 12 How. 165; Murdock v. City of Memphis, 20 Wall. 590; Crossley v. City of New Orleans, 108 U. S. 105; Caperton v. Bowyer, 14 Wall. 216.
It must, therefore, be conceded that the sole question to be determined is, Did the Supreme Court of Louisiana, in deciding against the plaintiffs in error, give proper effect to the decree of the Circuit Court of the United States, subsequently reversed by this court?
It is argued by counsel for the defendant in error that this does not embrace any Federal question; that the effect to be given to a judgment or decree of the Circuit Court of the United States sitting in Louisiana by the courts of that state is to be determined by the law of Louisiana, or by some principle of general law as to which the decision of the state court is final; and that the ruling in question did not deprive the plaintiffs in error of "any privilege or immunity specially set up or claimed under the Constitution or laws of the United States." But this is an error. The question whether a state court has given due effect to the judgment of a court of the United States is a question arising under the Constitution and laws of the United States, and comes within the jurisdiction of the Federal courts by proper process, although, as was said by this court in Dupasseur v. Rochereau, 21 Wall. 130, 135,
Opinion of the Court.
"no higher sanctity or effect can be claimed for the judgment of the Circuit Court of the United States rendered in such a case, under such circumstances, than is due to the judgments of the state courts in a like case and under similar circum
stances." Embry v. Palmer, 107 U. S. 3. It may be conceded, then, that the judgments and decrees of the Circuit Court of the United States, sitting in a particular state, in the courts of that state, are to be accorded such effect, and such effect only, as would be accorded in similar circumstances to the judgments and decrees of a state tribunal of equal authority. But it is within the jurisdiction of this court to determine, in this case, whether such due effect has been given by the Supreme Court of Louisiana to the decrees of the Circuit Court of the United States here drawn in question.
The decree of the Circuit Court was relied upon in the state court as a complete defence to the action for malicious prosecution, on the ground that it was conclusive proof of probable cause. The Supreme Court of Louisiana, affirming the judg ment of the inferior state court, denied to it, not only the effect claimed, but any effect whatever.
It is conceded that, according to the law of Louisiana, the action for a malicious prosecution is founded on the same principles, and subject to the same defences, as have been established by the common law prevailing in the other states.
In the case of Iubgh v. New Orleans and Carrollton Railroad, 6 La. Ann. 495; S. C. 54 Am. Dec. 565, it was said that "the dispositions of article 2294 are found in the Roman and Spanish laws; so far from being new legislation, that article embodies a general principle as old as the science of jurisprudence itself, and it must still be understood with the limitations. affixed to it by the jurisprudence of Rome and Spain. Domat Lois Civiles, tit. Domages causés par des fautes, p. 180, par. 1." In the same case the court said on a rehearing: "The article 2294 of our Code provides that every act whatever of man that causes damage to another obliges him by whose fault it happened to repair it. The provisions of this article, however general and comprehensive its terms may be, are found more than once recited in terms equally general and comprehensive
Opinion of the Court.
in the laws of the fifteenth title of the seventh Partida. The article was inserted in the Code of 1809, at a time when the Spanish laws were in force. It was put and retained to this time in the Code, not for the purpose of making any change in the law, but because it was a principle which was in its proper place in a code; a principle which would be equally recognized as a necessary conservative element of society, and equally obligatory whether it was formally enacted in a code
In the case of Sénécal v. Smith, 9 Rob. La. 418, 420, it had been previously decided that "in cases of this kind it is well settled that malice and the want of probable cause in the original action are essential ingredients. Malice may be expressly proved or it may be inferred from the total want of a probable cause of action; but malice alone, however great, if there be a probable cause upon which the suit or prosecution is based, is insufficient to maintain an action in damages for a malicious prosecution."
In the case of Gould v. Gardner, 8 La. Ann. 11, it was determined that the defendants in the case were not without probable cause for the arrest of the plaintiff, which was the ground of the action, because they acted by the advice of eminent and learned counsel, though his opinion was held to be erroneous. The court refer to the case of Stone v. Swift, 4 Pick. 389; S. C. 16 Am. Dec. 349, in Massachusetts, and that of Foshay v. Ferguson, 2 Denio, 619, in New York, as sufficient authority in support of their opinion, and add as follows: "Our codes and statutes have not provided any rules to guide us on the trial of such actions, and we are governed in the absence of positive legislation by the rules laid down in the authorities quoted, because we consider them just and reasonable in themselves." In the opinion in the present case, the Supreme Court of Louisiana say that to sustain the charge of malicious prosecution it is necessary to show: "1st, that the suit had terminated unfavorably to the prosecutor; 2d, that in bringing it the prosecutor had acted without probable cause; 3d, that he was actuated by legal malice, i.e., by improper or sinister motives. The above three elements must concur."