Peper v. Fordyce
119 U.S. 469 (1886)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Peper v. Fordyce, 119 U.S. 469 (1886)

Peper v. Fordyce

Argued November 17, 1886

Decided December 13, 1886

119 U.S. 469

Syllabus

If the jurisdiction of the circuit court of the United States does not appear on the face of the record in some form, the decree is erroneous, and must be reversed.

A, a citizen of Arkansas, conveyed to B, a citizen of the same state, real estate in Arkansas in trust to secure the payment of notes due to C, a citizen of Missouri, with power of sale in case of nonpayment. Subsequently A became insolvent and assigned his property to D, a citizen of Arkansas, in trust for the benefit of his creditors. Held that in proceedings in equity commenced by D to determine the amount of indebtedness from A to C and to prevent the sale of the trust property by B and to obtain a cancellation of the conveyance to B on payment of the amount found due to C, B was a necessary party with interests adverse to D, and as both were citizens of the same state, and as the jurisdiction of the circuit court depended alone upon the citizenship of the parties, it was without jurisdiction. Thayer v. Life Association of America,112 U. S. 117, affirmed.

When a decree or judgment of a circuit court is reversed for want of jurisdiction in that court, this Court will make such order in respect to the costs of appeal as justice and right may seem to require. Mansfield &c. Railway v. Swann,111 U. S. 379, and Hancock v. Holbrook,112 U. S. 229, followed.

From the record in this case, it appears that on the 10th of January, 1881, Walter A. Moore, a citizen of Arkansas, conveyed to George G. Latta, a citizen of the same state, certain property in the City of Hot Springs in trust to secure the payment of three notes for the sum of $2,433.46 each, payable to the order of Charles G. Peper, under the name of Charles G. Peper & Co., a citizen of Missouri, with power of sale in case of nonpayment. After the execution of this conveyance, Moore became insolvent and assigned his property to Samuel W. Fordyce, a citizen of Arkansas, for the benefit of his creditors. On the 11th of June, 1881, Fordyce, as such assignee, at the instance of the creditors of Moore and in their behalf,

Page 119 U. S. 470

began a suit in equity in the Circuit Court of the United States for the Eastern District of Arkansas against Peper and Latta the object and purpose of which was to prevent a sale of the property under the deed to Latta, and for an account of certain transactions between Peper and Moore connected with the notes which had been secured, with a view to the cancellation of the debt, or at least its payment after the exact amount due should be determined. In the bill it appeared that both Fordyce and Latta were citizens of Arkansas and that Peper was a citizen of Missouri. To this bill Peper and Latta filed a joint answer.

Afterwards, on the 31st of October, 1881, Fordyce, as assignee, and Moore, began another suit against Peper and Latta in the Circuit Court of Garland County, Arkansas, the object of which was also to enjoin Peper and Latta from selling the property under the deed to Latta and to obtain a cancellation of the conveyance. Immediately on the filing of this bill, a preliminary injunction was granted as prayed. On the same day, Peper and Latta filed a petition for the removal of this last suit to the Circuit Court of the United States for the Eastern District of Arkansas on the ground that "there is a controversy in this suit between citizens of different states, and which can be fully determined between them." In their petition it was stated in express terms that Latta, Fordyce, and Moore were all citizens of Arkansas and Peper a citizen of Missouri. This cause was entered in due form in the circuit court of the United States on the 14th of November, 1881, and on the 21st of the same month, Peper and Latta filed in that court a joint answer to the bill which had been filed in the state court, and on which the injunction had been granted. On the 20th of December, 1881, the two causes thus in the circuit court of the United States were there consolidated on motion of Fordyce, and an order made "that the two causes be tried as one suit under the title" of the cause originally begun in that court.

On the 10th of June, 1882, Peper and Latta filed a cross-bill in which they prayed a foreclosure and sale of the trust property. To this cross-bill an answer was filed by Fordyce and

Page 119 U. S. 471

Moore, setting up substantially the same defenses as were shown in the bill of Fordyce in the circuit court of the United States, and to this a replication was filed by Peper and Latta. Testimony was taken, and on the final hearing of the cause, a decree was entered dismissing the cross-bill and directing a cancellation of the deed of trust. From that decree Peper and Latta took this appeal.

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