In re Metropolitan Trust Company
218 U.S. 312 (1910)

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U.S. Supreme Court

In re Metropolitan Trust Company, 218 U.S. 312 (1910)

In re Metropolitan Trust Company of The City of New York

No. 12. Original

Submitted May 16, 1910

Restored to the docket for oral argument May 31, 1910

Argued October 11, 1910

Decided November 14, 1910

218 U.S. 312

Syllabus

All parties to the record who appear to have any interest in the challenged ruling must be given an opportunity to be heard on an appeal, and the decision of the circuit court of appeals reversing a decree of the circuit court applies only to the parties brought before that court.

After the circuit court has refused to remand, has tried the issues and entered judgment dismissing the complaint as to certain defendants, it cannot, after the circuit court of appeals has, on an appeal to which such defendants were not made parties, reversed the order refusing to remand, vacate the judgment dismissing the complaint as to the defendants not parties after the expiration of the term at which such judgment was entered.

A decree of the circuit court refusing to remand a cause cannot, even if error and subsequently reversed on appeal by the circuit court of appeals, be treated as a nullity, and proceedings of the circuit court while it retained jurisdiction as to defendants not parties to such appeal remain in full force.

A court cannot deal with a decree other than for correction of clerical error or inadvertence after the termination of the term at which it was entered.

Where the circuit court vacates a decree without jurisdiction and refuses to reinstate it, mandamus is the proper remedy to compel it to do so.

This is an application by the Metropolitan Trust Company of the City of New York, which had been impleaded as a defendant in the suit of James Pollitz v. The Wabash Railroad Company for a writ of prohibition or mandamus, directed to the Circuit Court of the United

Page 218 U. S. 313

States for the Southern District of New York, to forbid the exercise of jurisdiction over the petitioner and over a decree dated January 10, 1908, in its favor in said suit, and in the alternative to provide that any order for the vacating of said decree should be set aside. A rule to show cause was issued, to which return has been made, and from the petition and return the following facts appear:

On or about January 15, 1907, James Pollitz brought suit in the Supreme Court of the State of New York against the Wabash Railroad Company and others to declare illegal and void certain securities of the railroad company, issued in exchange for debenture bonds, pursuant to a plan complained of as injurious to the stockholders, and for a reexchange, and, in default thereof, for an accounting by the defendants with respect to the new securities which had been issued.

On January 25, 1907, the railroad company caused the case to be removed to the Circuit Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York on the ground that there was a separable controversy between it, as a citizen of the State of Ohio, and the complainant, a citizen of the State of New York.

The complainant moved to remand the cause, and on February 21, 1907, the motion was denied. Thereupon application was made to this Court for a writ of mandamus to compel the remand, and the petition was denied. In re James Pollitz,206 U. S. 323.

After the removal of the cause, the defendants demurred to the bill of complaint, the trust company demurring separately, and all the demurrers were overruled save that of the trust company, which was sustained. A decree was entered on January 10, 1908, which, after overruling the other demurrers, provided as follows:

"Ordered, adjudged, and decreed, that the demurrer of the defendant the Metropolitan Trust Company of the

Page 218 U. S. 314

City of New York, be, and the same hereby is, sustained, and that the bill of complaint be, and the same hereby is, dismissed as to the defendant the Metropolitan Trust Company of the City of New York, with costs."

The defendants other than the trust company then answered. An earlier suit, to which the trust company was not a party, was pending in the same court, with regard to the same transaction, and the court, denying the motion of the complainant for leave to discontinue the first suit, ordered the suits to be consolidated. After hearing, a final decree was entered on February 23, 1909, dismissing the bill in each suit upon the merits.

The complainant then appealed to the circuit court of appeals, but no review was sought of the decree of January 10, 1908, dismissing the bill in the second suit as against the trust company, and the trust company was not cited and did not in any way become a party to the appeal.

On February 8, 1910, the circuit court of appeals decided that there was not a separable controversy between the complainant and the railroad company, and that the motion to remand should have been granted. The court accordingly reversed the final decree with direction to the circuit court to permit the complainant to discontinue the first cause and to remand the second cause to the supreme court of the State of New York.

Thereupon, on February 28, 1910, an order for remand was entered in the circuit court, which contained the following provision as to the trust company:

"And it appearing that the defendant Metropolitan Trust Company duly demurred to the complaint, and that such demurrer was sustained and judgment entered January 10, 1908, dismissing the complaint as to said defendant, which has not been appealed from or reversed,"

"Ordered, adjudged and decreed that this judgment remanding said cause to the supreme court of the State

Page 218 U. S. 315

of New York shall not apply to said defendant Metropolitan Trust Company."

On March 21, 1910, the complainant moved in the circuit court to vacate the decree entered January 10, 1908, and to remand the cause as to the trust company. The latter appeared specially and objected to the jurisdiction of the court. The court granted the motion to vacate the decree, and denied the motion to remand the cause as to the trust company, without prejudice, upon the ground that the application for such relief should be made to the judge who entered the order to remand as to the other defendants.

The trust company then applied to this Court for a writ of prohibition or mandamus, as stated.

Page 218 U. S. 318

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