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U.S. Supreme Court

Kirby v. American Soda Fountain Co., 194 U.S. 141 (1904)

Kirby v. American Soda Fountain Company

No. 367

Submitted March 21, 1904

Decided April 26, 1904

194 U.S. 141


The general rule is that, when the jurisdiction of a Circuit Court of the United States has once attached, it will not be ousted by subsequent change in the conditions.

A circuit court may proceed to judgment on a cross-bill where defendant's pecuniary claim is less than $2,000, if the jurisdictional amount in dispute appears from bill, answer and cross-bill which relate to the same transaction, notwithstanding the original bill has been voluntarily dismissed.

Kirby filed his first original amended petition in the District Court of Dallas county, Texas, against the American Soda Fountain Company, averring that he was induced by false representations by defendant to agree to exchange his soda fountain apparatus for the soda fountain apparatus of defendant, and pay defendant $2,025 in addition, and signed a memorandum in relation thereto, which, however, plaintiff alleged did not contain all the terms of the contract; that the exchange was made, but defendant's soda fountain apparatus, instead of being superior in value by $2,025, was, as matter of

Page 194 U. S. 142

fact, less by $2,500, and plaintiff prayed for the cancellation of the obligation to pay $2,025, for $2,500 damages, and for general relief. The original petition sought damages merely, and in the sum of $1,500.

On application of defendant, the cause was removed to the Circuit Court of the United States for the Northern District of Texas.

The case was entered in that court May 12, 1902, and on that day defendant filed its answer, denying all charges of fraud, and setting up the written contract between plaintiff and itself, which it alleged contained all the terms of the agreement between them, whereby defendant agreed to manufacture and ship to plaintiff, and plaintiff purchased of defendant, a certain soda fountain machine at the price of $3,219, and defendant agreed to take plaintiff's machine in part payment at the sum of $1,194, leaving a balance of $2,205, which plaintiff agreed to pay, and which was secured by a mortgage lien on the property. That defendant manufactured and shipped the machine to plaintiff and set it up in his store, and fully complied with the contract, but plaintiff, after paying $325 on account of the $2,025, failed and refused to further comply with the contract or to pay anything more thereon.

Defendant said plaintiff ought to take nothing by his suit, and prayed judgment for the sum of $1,700 and for foreclosure of its mortgage lien. Together with its answer, defendant filed its cross-complaint, setting up the facts in detail and praying for judgment in the sum of $1,700, and interest, and for a decree establishing its mortgage lien on the property, and for foreclosure and sale, and such further relief as equity might require.

Subpoena on the cross-complaint was issued and served May 13, 1902.

June 20, 1902, plaintiff moved to transfer the cause to the law docket, and on that date the following order was entered of record:

"Complainant coming and asking that the original bill of complaint be dismissed without prejudice, and it appearing

Page 194 U. S. 143

to the court that said request should be granted, it is therefore ordered that the original bill of complaint herein be and the same is hereby dismissed without prejudice to the right of the plaintiff to proceed further on the cause of action set forth in said bill hereafter as he may be advised. It is further ordered that the costs of the original bill and proceedings thereon herein be adjudged against complainant, for which execution may issue."

July 24, 1902, plaintiff, as defendant in the cross-complaint, filed his plea thereto, in which he averred that the original bill filed by him had been dismissed, and that the cross-bill was not within the jurisdiction of the court because the amount sought to be recovered did not exceed $2,000, exclusive of interest and costs. February 13, 1903, the plea to the jurisdiction of the court was argued and overruled, and plaintiff, defendant in the cross-bill, was ordered to file an answer to said cross-bill on or before the rule day of the court occurring in April, 1903. No further answer or plea to the cross-bill having been interposed by the defendant therein, a decree pro confesso was rendered against him April 21.

On May 27, 1903, the court rendered a decree on the cross-bill, which recited the various proceedings; found the allegations of the cross-complaint and exhibits to be true; that Kirby was justly indebted to the American Soda Fountain Company in the sum of $1,700, with interest, and that a valid mortgage lien to secure that sum existed, and decreed payment of the amount within sixty days, and that, if not paid, the property should be sold and the proceeds applied, with judgment for deficiency, if any.

An appeal from this decree was prayed and allowed, and the question of jurisdiction was certified. The case came on in this Court on motions to dismiss or affirm.

Page 194 U. S. 144

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