HANSBERRY V. LEE, 311 U. S. 32 (1940)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Hansberry v. Lee, 311 U.S. 32 (1940)

Hansberry v. Lee

No. 29

Argued October 25, 1940

Decided November 12, 1940

311 U.S. 32


Numerous owners of lots in a particular area agreed in writing, each severally with each of the others, that their lots should not be sold to or occupied by Negroes, the effectiveness of the agreement being conditioned, however, upon signing by owners of a specified percentage of the lot frontage. In a case in a state court, tried upon an agreed statement of facts, in which it was stipulated (erroneously) that this condition had been complied with, and in which the issue litigated was whether the agreement had ceased to be enforceable in equity by reason of changes in the restricted area, an owner of one of the lots, suing in behalf of himself and of others in like situation, obtained a decree enjoining violation of the agreement by four individuals, who asserted an interest in the restricted land through another signer of the agreement, but who were not treated by the pleadings or decree as representing others or as foreclosing by their defense the rights of others, and whose interest in defeating the contract did not appear to outweigh their interest in sustaining it.


1. That others who were privy to the agreement, but not made parties to the litigation, and whose substantial interest was in resisting performance of the agreement, could not be bound by the decree upon the theory that the suit was a class suit in which they were duly represented. Pp. 311 U. S. 39, 311 U. S. 44.

2. That a decree of the state court in a second, similar suit, adjudging such other persons estopped by the former decree as res judicata from defending upon the ground that the condition precedent of the agreement had not been fulfilled, was in violation of the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Pp. 311 U. S. 40, 311 U. S. 44.

372 Ill. 369; 24 N.E.2d 37, reversed.

Page 311 U. S. 33

Certiorari, 309 U.S. 652, to review the affirmance of a decree in equity enjoining a violation of an agreement of lot owners restricting the sale and use of lots in a particular area.

Page 311 U. S. 37

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