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U.S. Supreme Court

Mercantile Nat'l Bank v. Langdeau, 371 U.S. 555 (1963)

Mercantile Nat'l Bank at Dallas v. Langdeau

No. 14

Argued February 27-28, 1962

Restored to the calendar for reargument April 2, 1962

Reargued December 5, 1962

Decided January 21, 1963*

371 U.S. 555


Appellee, the receiver of a Texas insurance company in liquidation in a Texas State Court in Travis County, brought an action in that Court against two national banks and 143 other parties, alleging a conspiracy to defraud the insurance company and claiming damages. Each national bank filed a plea of privilege under Texas practice, asserting that it was located in Dallas County and, therefore, was immune from suit in a state court elsewhere under § 5198 of the Revised Statutes, which provides that actions against a national bank "may be had" in any state court in the county or city in which it is located. On an appeal in which it was agreed that the only issue was whether § 5198 entitled the national banks to have the action transferred to the state court in Dallas County or whether venue was controlled by a Texas statute, the Texas Supreme Court refused to accept § 5198 as prohibiting a suit against the national banks in Travis County, where a state venue statute expressly permitted it. The banks appealed to this Court.


1. The judgments of the Texas Supreme Court are "final," within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 1257(2), and this Court has jurisdiction of the appeals. Pp. 371 U. S. 557-558.

2. Section 5198 of the.Revised Statutes is controlling here, and this suit in a state court against national banks may not be maintained in a county or city other than that in which they are located. Pp. 371 U. S. 558-567.

(a) National banks are instrumentalities of the Federal Government, and Congress had and exercised the authority to prescribe the manner and circumstances under which they could sue or be sued. Pp. 371 U. S. 558-559.

(b) Congress intended that a national bank could not be sued against its will in any court other than those specified in § 5198. Pp. 371 U. S. 559-564.

Page 371 U. S. 556

(c) Section 5198 has not been repealed, and it is fully effective. Pp. 371 U. S. 565-567.

161 Tex. 349, 341 S.W.2d 161, reversed.

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