McNulta v. Lochridge
141 U.S. 327 (1891)

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U.S. Supreme Court

McNulta v. Lochridge, 141 U.S. 327 (1891)

McNulta v. Lochridge

No. 1324

Submitted October 13, 1891

Decided October 26, 1891

141 U.S. 327

Syllabus

Whether a person holding the office of receiver can be held responsible for the acts of his predecessor in the same office is not a federal question, but a question of general law.

A receiver of a railroad, appointed by a federal court, is not entitled under the Act of March 3, 1887, c. 373, § 3, 24 Stat. 552, 554, to immunity from suit for acts done by his predecessor, without previous permission given by that court.

An adverse judgment of a state court, upon the claim of a receiver appointed by a federal court, of immunity from suit without leave of the appointing court first obtained is subject to review in this Court.

Actions will lie by and against a receiver for causes of action accruing under his predecessor in office.

This was a motion to dismiss a writ of error or affirm the judgment of the court below upon the following state of facts:

Page 141 U. S. 328

In July, 1887, Lochridge, the defendant in error, began two suits in the Circuit Court of Christian County, Illinois, against McNulta, the plaintiff in error, as receiver of the Wabash, St. Louis and Pacific Railway Company, to recover damages for the death of James and Mary E. Molohon, alleged to have been occasioned by the negligent management of an engine at a public crossing. At the time the cause of action arose, Thomas M. Cooley was receiver of the road under an order made by the Circuit Court of the United States for the Southern District of Illinois in a suit to foreclose a mortgage upon the road. Judge Cooley having resigned his receivership, plaintiff in error, John McNulta, was appointed his successor, and was in possession of and operating the road at the time the suits were brought. Demurrers were interposed to the declarations and overruled, and the suits were subsequently consolidated by agreement of parties, tried, and a verdict rendered in favor of the plaintiff for six thousand dollars. This judgment was subsequently affirmed by the Appellate Court of the Third District, and again by the supreme court of the state. Defendant thereupon sued out this writ, and assigned as error first that the supreme court erred in holding that under the act of congress below cited, the plaintiff was entitled to maintain the action when it appeared from the record that McNulta was not the receiver when the cause of action accrued, and second in holding that under said act, McNulta could be sued as receiver with respect to any act or transaction which occurred before his appointment without previous leave of the court of the United States by which he was appointed. Defendant in error thereupon moved to dismiss upon the ground that no federal question was involved.

Page 141 U. S. 329

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