Sweeney v. Carter Oil Company
United States Supreme Court
SWEENEY v. CARTER OIL COMPANY
Argued: October 30, 1905. --- Decided: November 27, 1905
This was an action of assumpsit brought in the circuit court of the United States for the northern district of West Virginia by, as described in the summons, 'Francis B. Sweeney, a resident in and citizen of the state of New York, and Halbert J. Porterfield, a resident in and citizen of the state of Pennsylvania, partners, doing business under the firm name and style of Sweeney & Porterfield,' against 'Carter Oil Company, a corporation created, organized, and existing under and by virtue of the laws of West Virginia, and as such a citizen thereof,' to recover damages in the sum of $20,000.
The declaration, filed May 4, 1903, followed the summons as to the citizenship of the parties, and contained ten special counts, most of them laying the damages at $20,000, and the common counts. An account stated was annexed, giving items, running from 1900 to 1901, aggregation $20,912.42.
The record discloses that on February 3, 1904, the court entered an order overruling a motion 'to dismiss this action for the want of jurisdiction, apparent upon the face of the proceedings in this, that the plaintiffs are residents of different states, seeking to sue a defendant of another state.' On February 15, 1904, the court set aside that order, sustained the motion to dismiss, and entered judgment for defendant. May 10, 1904, the judge holding the circuit court filed a certificate 'that the judgment of dismissal made in this cause on February 15, 1904, at the present term of this court, is based solely on the ground that the record does not show that the controversy is one, in my opinion, between citizens of different states, but that it appears from the record that one of the plaintiffs, to wit, Francis B. Sweeney, is a resident in and citizen of the state of New York, and that Halbert J. Porterfield is a resident in and citizen of the state of Pennsylvania, while the defendant is a corporation created and existing under and by virtue of the laws of the state of West Virginia, and domiciled in the northern district of West Virginia, and no other ground of jurisdiction appears from the record; and the case is dismissed only for the reason above stated; that is, that the controversy is not between citizens of different states, as is required by the Federal statutes to confer jurisdiction on this court, but one of the plaintiffs being a citizen of one state, to wit, the state of New York, and the other plaintiff being a citizen of the state of Pennsylvania, cannot, in my judgment, be joined as plaintiffs and sue in this court a defendant residing in the northern district of West Virginia, and consequently the proper citizenship of different states does not exist, and that the circuit court of the United States for the northern district of West Virginia has no jurisdiction.' This writ of error was granted the same day.
Messrs. V. B. Archer and W. S.C.hesley for plaintiffs in error.
Messrs. George L. Roberts, Reese Blizzard, and Charles Gibbs Carter for defendant in error.
Statement by Mr. Chief Justice Fuller:
Mr. Chief Justice Fuller delivered the opinion of the court: