Lyon v. Perin & Gaff Mfg. Co.
125 U.S. 698 (1888)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Lyon v. Perin & Gaff Mfg. Co., 125 U.S. 698 (1888)

Lyon v. Perin & Gaff Manufacturing Company

No. 201

Argued April 2, 1888

Decided April 16, 1888

125 U.S. 698

Syllabus

A final decree in a suit in equity that

"The cause being submitted to the court upon bill, answer, and replication, and having been duly considered, the court finds, adjudges and decrees that the equities are with the defendant,"

and dismissing the bill, is an adjudication on the merits of the controversy and constitutes a bar to further litigation on the same subject between the parties, and it is not open to the complainant to show in a subsequent suit in equity between the same parties, on the same cause of action, that the decree was made in his absence and default, and that no proof had been filed in the cause on either side.

The following is the case as stated by the Court:

This is a suit in equity brought in the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of Indiana by Nelson Lyon against The Perin and Gaff Manufacturing Company, praying an injunction and damages for an alleged infringement of reissued letters patent No. 9198, dated May 11, 1880, owned by complainant, for an improvement. in "metallic stiffeners for boot and shoe heels."

The bill of complainant, after the usual recitals necessary in a suit of this character, among other things, sets forth that before the commencement of this action, to-wit, in September, 1881, complainant having been informed and believing that the defendant was manufacturing an instrument which infringed said reissued letters patent, filed his bill in equity against the said defendant in the United States Circuit Court for the Southern District of Ohio to restrain said defendant from further infringement; that the company appeared therein and answered, setting forth, among other things, the defense that said reissued letters patent was invalid for want of novelty in the invention, and was not granted in accordance with law, denying also that the instrument used infringed the said

Page 125 U. S. 699

reissued letters patent and denying that complainant was entitled to any of the relief therein prayed, to which answer complainant filed his replication that the statutory time for taking testimony having expired, and an extension thereof not having been granted, and the complainant not having been able to get the proof of the infringement in time, no evidence of the facts, matters, or things alleged in his complaint was offered or taken, and upon the call of the case before the court, counsel for complainant not appearing, a decree was entered dismissing the bill, and that none of the issues were tried, and no decision rendered on the merits thereof, the suit having been dismissed merely for want of prosecution.

The defendants interposed a plea that the prior adjudication and decree of the suit mentioned in said plea (which is the same suit set forth in said bill of complaint) is a bar to the present suit. The court below found the plea to be good and sufficient. Thereupon complainant filed his replication. The cause, being at issue, was referred to a master in chancery to take testimony, and to return the same into court with his conclusion of law thereon. Testimony was taken, and the master made and filed his report, in and by which said master concluded as a matter of law that the decree mentioned in said plea stands as an absolute adjudication of the rights of the parties upon the merits, and reported and found that the averments of the plea were sustained by the evidence.

Exceptions to said master's report having been overruled by the court and the report confirmed, a decree was entered that the defendants' plea was well taken in law and sustained by the proofs, and the bill was dismissed. An appeal from this decree brings the case here.

Page 125 U. S. 700

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