Chicago & Alton R. Co. v. Wiggins Ferry Co.
108 U.S. 18 (1883)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Chicago & Alton R. Co. v. Wiggins Ferry Co., 108 U.S. 18 (1883)

Chicago and Alton Railroad Company v. Wiggins Ferry Company

Decided January 29, 1883

108 U.S. 18

Syllabus

1. When the courts of one state give to the statutes of another state a different construction from that given by the courts of the state in which the laws were enacted, no case arises under the removal act for the transfer of the cause to the federal courts. The remedy, if any, is by writ of error after final judgment.

2. A judgment of a state court set up as an estoppel cannot be corrected in a collateral proceeding in a court of the United States. Until reversed or brought for review in the manner provided by law, it is entitled to the same effect in the courts of the United States as in the courts of the state.

Appeal from an order remanding the cause to the state court.

This is a suit begun in a state court of Missouri by the Wiggins Ferry Company, an Illinois corporation, against the Chicago & Alton Railroad Company, another Illinois corporation, to recover damages for the breach of a contract by which, as is alleged, the railroad company bound itself not to employ any other means than the ferry company's ferry for the transportation of passengers and freight, coming and going on its railroad, across the Mississippi at St. Louis. The railroad company defends on the ground, among others, that if the agreement actually entered into by the parties contains by construction any such provision as is claimed, it is in violation of the laws of Illinois and in excess of the corporate powers of the company as an Illinois corporation. To avoid the effect of this defense, the ferry company sets up, by way of estoppel, a judgment in another suit in a state court of Missouri between the same parties where precisely the same question was raised on the same contract, and in which it was decided that the railroad company did have the corporate authority under the laws of Illinois to make the contract. As soon as the pleadings

Page 108 U. S. 19

in the case developed this issue, the railroad company petitioned for the removal of the suit to the Circuit Court of the United States for the Eastern District of Missouri, the proper district, on the ground that

"full faith and credit has not been given to the public acts of the State of Illinois by the Supreme Court of the State of Missouri in the adjudication aforesaid, and that by reason of the facts herein set forth, and of such adjudication, and the pleading thereof as an estoppel, in the manner set forth in the plaintiff's amended petition, this suit is one arising under the Constitution and laws of the United States."

The facts set forth in the petition were the charter and laws of Illinois, which governed the powers of the railroad company as an Illinois corporation.

The state court, on the filing of the petition for removal, accompanied by the necessary bond, stopped proceedings, but the circuit court, when the record was entered there, remanded the cause. From an order to that effect this writ of error has been taken, and is now for hearing on the merits under the operation of Rule 32, adopted at the last term, with a view to facilitating the final determination of questions of removal under the Act of March 3, 1875, c. 137, 18 Stat. 470.

Page 108 U. S. 22

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