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upon torts involving offenses against the law of nations; suits against consuls and vice-consuls; suits to enforce liens of the United States upon real estate for internal revenue taxes; and civil causes of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction, “saving to suitors in all cases the right of a common-law remedy, where the common law is competent to give it, and of all seizures on land and on waters not within the admiralty and maritime jurisdiction," and of proceedings to condemn property taken as prize. This admiralty jurisdiction is exclusive.2
§ 566. Court of Claims: Jurisdiction.
This court, established in 1855,2 has general jurisdiction of all "claims founded upon the Constitution of the United States or any law of Congress, except for pensions, or upon any negotiation of an executive department, or upon any contract, express or implied, with the Government of the United States, or for damages, liquidated or unliquidated, in cases not sounding in tort, in respect of which claims the party would be entitled to redress against the United States, either in a court of law, equity, or admiralty, if the United States were suable. Exception is, however, made of "claims growing out of the late civil war," and "other claims which have hitherto been rejected, or reported on adversely by any court, department, or commission authorized to hear and determine the same." 27
The court also has jurisdiction to adjudicate upon all claims which may from time to time be referred to it by an executive department of the United States, involving disputed facts or questions of law where the amount involved is greater than $3,000, or where the decision will affect a class of cases or furnish a precedent for the executive departments in the adjustment of such classes of claims, or where an authority, right, privilege, or exemption is claimed or denied under the Constitution.
25 See Chapter LV.
26 10 Stat. at L. 612.
27 24 Stat. at L. 505; Chap. 359.
In these cases where the decision is in favor of the claimant, judgment may be entered payable out of the Treasury of the United States.
Upon questions of law an appeal lies in all cases at the instance of the United States to the Supreme Court, and at the instance of the claimants where the amount claimed exceeds $3,000. The findings of fact by the Court of Claims is final and conclusive.
By the so-called Bowman Act of March 3, 1883,28 the head of an executive department is authorized to refer to the court any claim or matter pending in his department which involves controverted questions of fact or of law, and the court is directed to report its findings of facts and conclusions of law to the department for its guidance. The act also provides that either House of Congress or any of its committees may refer any claim or matter to the court for the determination of the facts involved, and the report of the same to Congress for such action thereupon as it may see fit to take.
As to the foregoing the District Courts are given concurrent jurisdiction where the amount does not exceed $1,000; and the circuit courts concurrent jurisdiction where the amount exceeds $1,000, but is not greater than $10,000.
All causes are tried by the court without a jury. All claims not brought within six years of the date of their accruing are barred from prosecution.
By various acts Congress has from time to time conferred upon the court additional jurisdiction with reference to specific classes of cases, as for example, French Spoliation claims, Indian depredation claims, claims for bounties for war vessels captured or destroyed during the war with Spain, and claims arising out of payment of customs duties to the authorities in Porto Rico while that island was under military rule.
28 22 Stat. at L. 485.
§ 567. Jurisdiction of Federal Courts Based upon Diversity of Citizenship.
By the Constitution jurisdiction in the federal courts may be founded upon either the subject-matter enumerated in Article III, or upon the character of the parties, that is, where the controversy is one to which the United States is a party, or between two or more States, between a State and citizens of another State, between citizens of different States, or between a State or a citizen thereof and foreign States, citizens or subjects.
Within the meaning of the clause of the Constitution extending the federal judicial power to suits between citizens of different States it has been held that any person who is a citizen of the United States, native or naturalized, is a citizen of the State in which he is domiciled. United States citizens domiciled in the Territories or the District of Columbia do not come within this rule.29
In Strawbridge v. Curtis30 it was held that if there be two or more joint plaintiffs and two or more joint defendants, each of the plaintiffs must, by reason of citizenship of another State, be capable of suing each of the defendants in a federal court, in order to sustain the federal jurisdiction. This doctrine, thus declared, has never been departed from.31
§ 568. Citizenship of Corporations.
It was early decided that a corporation is not a citizen within the meaning of the clause providing that the federal judicial power shall extend to controversies between citizens of different States, and in theory this is still the law; but if each corporation was conclusively presumed to be a citizen of the State by which it is chartered the practical results would be precisely the same as it now is and for many years has in fact been. Until about 1840, however, the doctrine prevailed that a corporation being
29 New Orleans v. Winter, 1 Wh. 91; 4 L. ed. 44; Hepburn v. Ellzey, 2 Cr. 445; 2 L. ed. 332.
30 3 Cr. 267; 2 L. ed. 435.
31 See Hooe v. Jamieson, 166 U. S. 395; 17 Sup. Ct. Rep. 596; 41 L. ed. 1049, and cases there cited.
an artificial unit, the court would look behind its corporate personality to see whether the individuals of which it was composed were, each and every one of them, citizens of a State different from that of each of the parties sued.32 But in later cases this doctrine was repudiated, and the principle stated, first, that the citizenship of the individuals composing the corporation is to be presumed to be that of the State by which the company was chartered, and, still later, that this presumption is one that may not be rebutted. In Ohio & Mississippi R. R. Co. v. Wheeler the court say, citing Louisville, C. & C. R. R. Co. v. Letson:34 "Where a corporation is created by the laws of a State, the legal presumption is, that its members are citizens of the State in which alone the corporate body has a legal existence; and that a suit by or against a corporation, in its corporate name, must be presumed to be a suit by or against citizens of the State which created the corporate body; and that no averment or evidence to the contrary is admissible, for the purpose of withdrawing the suit from the jurisdiction of a court of the United States."
This presumption, conclusive as to the citizenship of the corporation, is no presumption at all as to the citizenship of one of the individual stockholders in case that individual stockholder sues or is sued by the corporation even when such suit is brought to enforce rights or liabilities directly resulting from his relation as a stockholder. In such case a stockholder, if a plaintiff, may assert that he is a citizen of the State in which his citizenship actually is, and he may describe himself as a stockholder of the defendant corporation and yet the federal courts will conclusively presume that every stockholder of the defendant corporation is a citizen of the same State as that which chartered the corporation.
32 Bank of United States v. Deveaux, 5 Cr. 61; 3 L. ed. 38; Bank of Vicksburg v. Slocomb, 14 Pet. 60; 10 L. ed. 354.
33 1 Black, 286; 17 L. ed. 130.
34 2 How. 497; 11 L. ed. 353.
A corporation organized in two or more States cannot sue in the federal courts a citizen of any one of those States.35
In St. Louis & San Francisco Ry. v. James the doctrine was advanced, but rejected by the court, that a corporation chartered in one State and authorized by the law of another State to do business therein and to have there all the privileges of a domestic corporation, might, as a citizen of the latter State, bring a suit in the federal courts against a citizen of the State of its incorporation.
In Patch v. Wabash Ry. Co. it is held that a corporation organized under the laws of several States, including the one in which suit against it is brought, may not obtain removal into the federal courts by reason of its citizenship also of another State.
§ 569. National Banks.
When the present national banking system was established, and for more than twenty years afterwards, an express statute authorized the National Banks to sue and be sued in the federal courts. Since 1887 it has been provided by law that for the purposes of the jurisdiction of the federal courts national banks are to be held to be citizens of the States in which they are respectively located, and the federal courts have no other jurisdiction over controversies to which they are a party than they would have were such banks citizens of such States.39
§ 570. Federally Chartered Corporations.
It has also been held that a corporation chartered by the United States, except as specifically restricted by Congress, has the right to invoke jurisdiction of the federal courts in respect to any litigation which it may have.40
35 Ohio R. R. Co. v. Wheeler, 1 Black, 286; 17 L. ed. 130.
36 161 U. S. 545; 16 Sup. Ct. Rep. 621; 40 L. ed. 802.
37 See also Martin v. B. & O. Ry., 151 U. S. 673; 14 Sup. Ct. Rep. 533; 38 L. ed. 311; Southern Pacific Ry. v. Denton, 146 U. S. 202; 13 Sup. Ct. Rep. 44; 36 L. ed. 942.
38 207 U. S. 277; 28 Sup. Ct. Rep. 80; 52 L. ed. 204.
39 24 Stat. at L. 552.
40 Osborn v. Bank of United States, 9 Wh. 738; 6 L. ed. 204; Racite Railroad Removal Cases, 115 U. S. 1; 5 Sup. Ct. Rep. 1113; 29 L. ed. 319.