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U.S. Supreme Court

Matter of Christensen Engineering Co., 194 U.S. 458 (1904)

Matter of Christensen Engineering Company

No. 16, Original

Submitted April 25, 1904

Decided May 31.1904

194 U.S. 458


When an order imposing a fine for violation of an injunction is substantially one to reimburse the party injured by the disobedience, although called one in a contempt proceeding, it is to be regarded as merely an interlocutory order, and to be reviewed only on appeal from the final decree. Where, however, the fine is payable to the United States and is clearly punitive and in vindication of the authority of the court, it dominates the proceeding and is reviewable by the circuit court of appeals on writ of error, Bessette v. W. B. Conkey Co., 194 U. S. 324, and the court should take jurisdiction, and in case of its refusal, mandamus will issue from this Court directing it so to do.

This is a petition for a writ of mandamus commanding the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to reinstate and take jurisdiction of a writ of error filed by the petitioner in that court by which it sought to have reviewed an order of the Circuit Court for the Southern District of New York, adjudging the petitioner guilty of contempt. The facts are that, on August 13, 1900, the Westinghouse Airbrake Company filed in the circuit court its bill of complaint, alleging the ownership of certain letters patent, an infringement by this petitioner, and praying an injunction restraining such infringement, and an accounting of profits and damages. A preliminary injunction was ordered on October 18, 1901. On February 21, 1903, the petitioner was adjudged guilty of contempt in disobeying that injunction, and ordered to pay a fine of $1,000, one-half to the United States and the other half to the complainant. On March 23, 1903, a writ of error to revise this order was allowed by the circuit court, and a full transcript of the proceedings in that court duly certified to the circuit court of appeals. On March 18, 1903, the circuit court entered a decree sustaining the validity of the patent,

Page 194 U. S. 459

directing a permanent injunction, and an accounting of profits and damages. On April 16, 1903, an appeal was taken from this decree. A hearing on the writ of error was had before the circuit court of appeals, and, on February 13, 1904, that court dismissed the writ of error.

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