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Court be set aside and held not to be valid or lawful liens upon or against the real estate herein described, nor upon the right, title or interest therein of the plaintiffs; that the defendants be enjoined from enforcing such judgments or from taking any benefit, profit or advantage by them; and that all the defendants being without the jurisdiction of the Circuit Court, an order be made directing them to be notified of this suit by publication, according to the provisions of the act of Congress of March 3, 1875. 18 Stat. 470.
By the act just referred to it was, among other things, provided: “SEC. 8. That when in any suit, commenced in any Circuit Court of the United States, to enforce any legal or equitable lien upon, or claim to, or to remove any encumbrance or lien or cloud upon the title to real or personal property within the district where such suit is brought, one or more of the defendants therein shall not be an inhabitant of, or found within, the said district, or shall not voluntarily appear thereto, it shall be lawful for the court to make an order directing such absent defendant or defendants to appear, plead, answer, or demur, by a day certain to be designated, which order shall be served on such absent defendant or defendants, if practicable, wherever found, and also upon the person or persons in possession or charge of said property, if any there be; or where such personal service upon such absent defendant or defendants is not practicable, such order shall be published in such manner as the court may direct, not less than once a week for six consecutive weeks; and in case such absent defendant shall not appear, plead, answer, or demur within the time so limited, or within some further time, to be allowed by the court, in its discretion, and upon proof of the service or publication of said order, and of the performance of the directions contained in the same, it shall be lawful for the court to entertain jurisdiction, and proceed to the hearing and adjudication of such suit in the same manner as if such absent defendant had been served with process within the said district; but said adjudication shall, as regards said absent defendant or de
Argument for Appellants.
fendants without appearance, affect only the property which shall have been the subject of the suit and under the jurisdiction of the court therein within such district.
Rev. Stat. Supp., vol. 1, pp. 84, 85; 18 Stat. 470, c. 137.
Upon demurrer to the jurisdiction of the Circuit Court that court dismissed the suit, being of opinion that the value of the matter in dispute was not sufficient to give jurisdiction. McDaniel v. Traylor, 123 Fed. Rep. 338.
Mr. G. B. Webster and Mr. J. R. Beasley for appellants:
The bill being for removal of cloud on title the value of the property affected controls. As to nature of the bill see Coke Litt. 100a; Black's Law Dict. 214; Welden v. Stickney, 1 D. C. App. 343; Cooley on Taxation, 542; Detroit v. Martin, 34 Michigan, 170; Bissell v. Kellogg, 60 Barb. 629; Lick v. Ray, 43 California, 83 ; Ward v. Dewey, 16 N. Y. 531 ; Byne v.
; Vivian, 5 Ves. 604 ; Dull's Appeal, 113 Pa. St. 516. As to jurisdictional amount involved in such cases, see Smith v. Adams, 130 U. S. 175; Simon v. House, 46 Fed. Rep. 317; Woodside v. Ciceroni, 93 Fed. Rep. 1; Cowell v. Water Supply Co., 96 Fed. Rep. 769; S. C., 121 Fed. Rep. 53; Fuller v. Grand Rapids, 40 Michigan, 395; Scripture v. Johnson, 3 Connecticut, 211; Queyrouse v. Thibodeaux, 30 La. Ann. 1114; Simon v. Richard, 42 La. Ann. 842; Kahn v. Kerngold, 80 Virginia, 342; Ayers v. Blair, 26 W. Va. 558.
The value of the property being the test of the jurisdictional amount, the complainants could have proceeded against any of the defendants irrespective of the amount of his claim, and therefore may join all in one bill, unless that would make the bill multifarious, and in this case it does not have that effect. Fellows v. Fellows, 4 Cow. 682; Story's Eq. Pl. $ 271; Gaines v. Chew, 2 How. 619.
Even though the value of the real estate is not the true test of the amount in controversy, the complainants were entitled to join the several defendants in one bill, and when so joined
196 U. S.
Argument for Appellees.
the aggregate amount of their claims was the amount in controversy. 1 Pomeroy Eq. Jur., 2d ed., § 269; Waterworks v. Youmans, L. R. 2 Ch. 8; Campbell v. Mackay, 1 Myl. & Cr. 603; Hardie v. Bulger, 66 Mississippi, 577; De Forrest v. Thompson, 40 Fed. Rep. 375; Brown v. Safe Dep. Co., 128 U. S. 403; N. Y. & N. H. R. R. Co. v. Schuyler, 17 N. Y. 592.
Even if the transactions of which complaint is made were separate as to the several defendants, yet if it is alleged that all were part of the same fraudulent scheme or conspiracy, the bill is not multifarious. Duff v. Bank, 13 Fed. Rep. 65; Pullman v. Stebbins, 51 Fed. Rep. 10; Marshall v. Holmes, 141 U. S. 589; Shields v. Thomas, 17 How. 3; Clay v. Field, 138 U. S. 479; Handley v. Stutz, 137 U. S. 369; Davis v. Schwartz, 155 U. S. 647; Illinois Central v. Coffery, 128 Fed. Rep. 770; Walter v. Railroad Co., 147 U. S. 370; Railroad Co. v. Walker, 148 U. S. 392; Fishback v. Telegraph Co., 161 U. S. 96; Bank v. Cannon, 164 U. S. 319 and Gibson v. Shufeldt, 122 U. S. 27, distinguished.
Mr. N. W. Norton for appellees:
a amount of the lien and not the value of the property is the test of jurisdiction. Ross v. Prentiss, 3 How. 771; Carne v.
, Russ, 152 U. S. 250; Farmers' Bank v. Hoop, 7 Pet. 168; Peyton v. Robertson, 9 Wheat. 527; Gibson v. Shufeldt, 122 U. S. 27.
Separate cases cannot be combined to make up the jurisdictional amount. Walter v. Railroad Co., 147 U. S. 370; Slaver v. Bigelow, 5 Wall. 208; Russell v. Stansell, 105 U. S. 303; Trust Co. v. Waterman, 106 U. S. 265; Hawley v. Fairbanks, 108 U. S. 543; Stewart v. Dunham, 115 U. S. 61; Clay v. Field, 138 U. S. 464.
The bill is against persons who must respond severally to the plaintiffs if at all and neither of the judgments is for as much as $2,000. The claims were all separate and cannot be united in one action without making it multifarious.
MR. JUSTICE HARLAN, after making the foregoing statement, delivered the opinion of the court.
If, within the meaning of the judiciary act of 1887, 1888, the value of the matter in dispute exceeded the sum of two thousand dollars, exclusive of interest and costs (25 Stat. 433), then there was no reason for dismissing the bill for want of jurisdiction in the Circuit Court; for, diversity of citizenship was shown by the bill, and under the above act of March 3, 1875, c. 137, 18 Stat. 470, it was competent for the Circuit Court, by a final decree, to remove any encumbrance or lien or cloud upon the title to real or personal property within the district, as against persons not inhabitants thereof and not found therein, or who did not voluntarily appear in the suit.
The lands of which Hiram Evans died possessed were of the alleged value of $16,000, and we assume that the plaintiffs jointly owned one undivided half of them. Was the value of the joint interest of the plaintiffs in the lands in question to be deemed the value of the matter in dispute, or was the Circuit Court without jurisdiction if no one of the alleged fraudulent claims held by the defendants exceeded two thousand dollars, exclusive of interest and costs?
Some light will be thrown upon this question by certain cases in which this court held it to be competent for a Circuit Court, in a suit in equity, to deprive parties of the benefit of a judgment or order fraudulently obtained by them in a state court.
In Johnson v. Waters, 111 U. S. 640, 667, the question was as to the authority of a Circuit Court to set aside as fraudulent and void certain sales made by a testamentary executor under
a the orders of a Probate Court. Conceding that the administration of the estate there in question properly belonged to the Probate Court, and that in a general sense its decisions were conclusive, especially upon parties, Mr. Justice Bradley, speaking for this court said:“But this is not universally true. The most solemn transactions and judgments may, at the
instance of the parties, be set aside or rendered inoperative for fraud. The fact of being a party does not estop a person from obtaining in a court of equity relief against fraud. It is generally parties that are the victims of fraud. The Court of Chancery is always open to hear complaints against it, whether committed in pais or in or by means of judicial proceedings. In such cases the court does not act as a court of review, nor does it inquire into any irregularities or errors of proceeding in another court; but it will scrutinize the conduct of the parties, and if it finds that they have been guilty of fraud in obtaining a judgment of decree, it will deprive them of the benefit of it, and of any inequitable advantage which they have derived under it."
In Arrowsmith v. Gleason, 129 U. S. 86, 98, the question was whether the Circuit Court had jurisdiction by its decree to set aside a sale of an infant's lands fraudulently made by his guardian under authority derived from a Probate Court, and give such relief as would be consistent with equity. One of the grounds of demurrer to the bill in that case was that the Circuit Court had no authority to set aside and vacate the orders of the state court. This court said:"If by this is meant only that the Circuit Court cannot by its orders act directly upon the Probate Court, or that the Circuit Court cannot compel or require the Probate Court to set aside or vacate its own orders, the position of the defendants could not be disputed. But it does not follow that the right of Harmening, in his lifetime, or of his heirs since his death, to hold these lands, as against the plaintiff, cannot be questioned in a court of general equitable jurisdiction upon the ground of fraud. If the case made by the bill is clearly established by proof, it may be assumed that some state court, of superior jurisdiction and equity powers, and having before it all the parties interested, might afford the plaintiff relief of a substantial character. But whether that be so or not, it is difficult to perceive why the Circuit Court is not bound to give relief according to the recognized rules of equity, as administered in the courts of the