LOUISVILLE & NASHVILLE R. CO. V. IDE, 114 U. S. 52 (1885)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Louisville & Nashville R. Co. v. Ide, 114 U.S. 52 (1885)

Louisville and Nashville Railroad Company v. Ide

Submitted December 22, 1884

Decided March 23, 1885

114 U.S. 52


The filing of separate answers tendering separate issues for trial, by several defendants sued jointly in a state court, on a joint cause of action, does not divide the suit into separate controversies so as to make it removable into the Circuit Court of the United States under the last clause of § 2, Act of March 3, 1875.

This was a writ of error for the review of an order of the circuit court remanding a case which had been removed from the Supreme Court of the State of New York under the Act of March 3, 1875, c. 137, 18 Stat. 470. The suit was brought by Ide, the defendant in error, a citizen of New York, against the Louisville and Nashville Railroad Company, a Kentucky corporation; the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railroad Company, and the Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati Railroad Company, Ohio corporations; the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad Company, a New York corporation, and the Boston and Albany Railroad Company, the Boston and Maine Railroad Company, and the Nashua and Worcester Railroad Company, Massachusetts corporations. The complaint alleged, in substance, that the defendants, being all common carriers, associated themselves together, under the name of the "White Line Central Transit Company," for the transportation jointly of goods from places on or near the Mississippi River to places on or near the Atlantic Coast, and among others from Columbus, Mississippi, to Dover and Manchester, New Hampshire; that while so associated together, the defendants received at Columbus, Mississippi, from certain persons doing business there, several lots of cotton which, in consideration of certain freight to be paid, they agreed to transport and deliver to the Cocheco Manufacturing Company

Page 114 U. S. 53

at Dover, and the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company at Manchester, New Hampshire; that bills of lading were issued by the defendants whereby they acknowledged the receipt of the cotton to be transported over their line and delivered to the respective consignees thereof; that the defendants have failed to deliver the cotton, and that the plaintiff is the assignee of all claims against them on that account.

The Louisville and Nashville and the New York Central and Hudson River Companies were served with process and appeared in the state court. The Louisville and Nashville Company answered the complaint. In the answer, it admitted the corporate existence of the several defendants, and that they were each and all common carriers. It denied that the defendants had associated themselves together for the transportation of goods jointly, or that they held themselves out as common carriers engaged jointly in the business of such transportation; but it alleged that a number of corporations, among which were the defendants, entered into an agreement to carry on a fast freight line between cities in the eastern and western parts of the country, and fixing uniform rates of transportation and regulating the necessary incidents to such business, which business was to be done under the name of "The Central Transit Company," afterwards familiarly known as the "White Line," and called in the complaint the "White Line Central Transit Company." It then set out the provisions of the agreement between the several corporations for carrying on the line, showing the way in which the business was to be done, and the earnings and expenses divided,

"and that each company should pay for any damage or loss occurring on its road, and if such damage could not be located, it should be prorated between the companies forming the route over which the property would have passed to its destination in the same rations as the freight moneys."

It then averred

"that when goods were delivered to anyone of the said companies to be transported by said fast freight line, bills of lading therefor were to be issued in the name of the Central Transit Company, 'White Line,' by an agent of such transit company, who, in his representative capacity, acted separately for each, and

Page 114 U. S. 54

was not authorized to act for such companies jointly, and that in all such bills of lading so issued it was expressly stipulated and agreed that in case of any loss, detriment, or damage done to or sustained by the property therein receipted for, that company should alone be held answerable therefor in whose actual custody the same might be at time of the happening thereof."

It then denied that the cotton sued for ever delivered to the line, or to either of the companies composing the same, for transportation, and averred that if any bills of lading were ever issued it was done by a person who had no authority for that purpose either from the Louisville and Nashville Company or any of the other defendants. It also averred that no loss had happened to the property while in its actual custody, and that Ide, who brought the suit, was not the real party in interest therein, but that the alleged assignment to him was without consideration, and made simply to vest the right of action in the plaintiff, who was a citizen of New York, and that the real parties in interest were the Cocheco Company and the Amoskeag Company.

It also appears from the statements in the petition for removal that the New York Central and Hudson River Company filed a separate answer in the state court, but that answer has not been copied into the transcript. The Louisville and Nashville Company, on filing its answer, presented to the state court a petition for the removal of the suit to the Circuit Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York, which was the proper district, on the ground

"that there is in said suit a controversy which is wholly between citizens of different states -- namely, a controversy between the plaintiff, a citizen of the State of New York, and the defendant, the Louisville and Nashville Railroad Company, your petitioner, a citizen of the State of Kentucky -- which can be fully determined as between them without the presence of any of the other persons or bodies corporate made parties to said suit."

The supreme court of the state accepted the petition and ordered the removal of the suit, but the circuit court, when the case got there, remanded it. This writ of error was brought for a reversal of the last order.

Page 114 U. S. 55

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