Johnson v. Risk
137 U.S. 300 (1890)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Johnson v. Risk, 137 U.S. 300 (1890)

Johnson v. Risk

No. 81

Submitted November 18, 1890

Decided December 8, 1890

137 U.S. 300

ERROR TO THE SUPREME COURT

OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE

Syllabus

Where, in an action pending in a state court, two grounds of defense are interposed, each broad enough to defeat a recovery and only one of them involves a federal question, and judgment passes for the defendant, the record must show, in order to justify a writ of error from this Court, that the judgment was rested upon the disposition of the federal question, and if this does not affirmatively appear, the writ of error will be dismissed unless the defense which does not involve a federal question is so palpably unfounded that it cannot be presumed to have been entertained by the state court.

This was a bill filed in the Chancery Court of Shelby County, Tennessee, on October 28, 1885, by John Johnson against Thomas L. Risk, L. Tiff Risk, John D. Milburn, H. C. Warriner, Eben L. Risk, a minor, and his guardian, Alice H. Risk, all residing in Shelby County, and Frank L. Duncan and Jennie, his wife, residing in Cincinnati, Ohio. The bill averred that the complainant and one E. F. Risk, since deceased, were co-partners in the City of Memphis, under the styles of Johnson, Risk & Co., and Risk & Johnson, doing a foundry and also a mercantile business, and that on the first day of February, 1875, the firms were dissolved, and, for $10,000 paid to complainant, he sold and conveyed to Risk his undivided half of the real estate, and also his interest in the machinery, tools, and stock of every kind belonging to said firms, reserving their bills receivable, book accounts, and debts due them, which were to remain the joint property of Risk and complainant, but were to be collected by Risk and by him accounted for to complainant, in the proportion of one-half to complainant, and the other to Risk, "in the manner set forth in the deed of bargain and sale executed at the time, and a copy of which is filed with and is a part of this bill, and marked Exhibit A.'" It was further averred that

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