SPENCER V. DUPLAN SILK CO., 191 U. S. 526 (1903)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Spencer v. Duplan Silk Co., 191 U.S. 526 (1903)

Spencer v. Duplan Silk Company

No. 83

Argued December 7, 1903

Decided December 21, 1903

191 U.S. 526


A suit does not arise under the Constitution and laws of the United States unless a dispute or controversy as to the effect or construction thereof, upon the determination of which the result depends, appears in the record by the plaintiff's pleading.

Where jurisdiction of the Circuit Court is rested on diverse citizenship and plaintiff relies wholly on a common law right, the fact that defendant invokes the Constitution and laws of the United States does not make the action one arising under the Constitution and laws of the United States, and the judgment of the circuit court of appeals is final.

Where a trustee in bankruptcy commences an action in the state court, its removal on the ground of diverse citizenship places it in the circuit court as if it had been commenced there on that ground of jurisdiction, and not as if it had been commenced there by consent of defendant under section 23 of the Bankruptcy Act.

This was an action of trover commenced by plaintiff in error in the Court of Common Pleas for the County of Lehigh, Pennsylvania, October 18, 1900, the declaration averring in substance that, on January 13, 1900, certain lumber and building materials were the property of the firm of Bennett & Rothrock, and that, by virtue of an adjudication in bankruptcy of that date, plaintiff succeeded to the title of that firm to said lumber and materials, and that, on January 15, 1900, defendant in error wrongfully converted the lumber and materials to its own use.

November 19, 1900, defendant in error presented its bond and petition for the removal of the cause to the Circuit Court of the United States for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the petition alleging that the controversy in the suit was wholly between citizens of different states; that the plaintiff, trustee in bankruptcy of Bennett & Rothrock, and Bennett & Rothrock themselves, were at the time of the commencement of the suit, and at the time the petition for removal was presented, citizens of the State of Pennsylvania, and that the defendant was at the time of the commencement

Page 191 U. S. 527

of the suit, and at the time the petition for removal was presented, a citizen of New York, and thereupon the cause was removed. The cause having been docketed and the record filed, defendant filed a plea of not guilty, and a trial was had November 11, 1901, resulting in a verdict for plaintiff for $12,183. January 15, 1902, a motion by defendant for judgment non obstante veredicto was overruled and judgment entered in favor of plaintiff, 112 F.6d 8, to review which defendant prosecuted a writ of error from the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, and that court on May 7, 1902, reversed the judgment of the circuit court, and remanded the cause with instructions to enter judgment for defendant on the verdict. 115 F.6d 9. This writ of error was then allowed.

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