Camp v. Gress - 250 U.S. 308 (1919)
U.S. Supreme Court
Camp v. Gress, 250 U.S. 308 (1919)
Camp v. Gress
Argued March 24, 25, 1919
Decided June 2, 1919
250 U.S. 308
Under § 51 of the Judicial Code (Act of 1887-1888, § 1), when an action for damages is brought against several defendants in the district where some of them reside and the jurisdiction of the district court is founded solely on diversity of citizenship, a codefendant cannot be compelled to submit to the jurisdiction by service in that district if he is a citizen and resident of another state. P. 250 U. S. 311. Smith v. Lyon, 133 U. S. 315.
This construction is confirmed by the reenactment of the subject matter, already so construed, as part of the Judicial Code, together and in juxtaposition with the provision (Jud.Code, § 52) expressly permitting an action not of a local nature against defendants residing in different districts of the same state to be brought in either district. P. 250 U. S. 314.
In what is now Jud.Code § 50, providing for the exercise of jurisdiction
"when there are several defendants . . . and one or more of them are neither inhabitants of nor found within the district in which the suit is brought, and do not voluntarily appear,"
the words "found within the district" are confined, as a result of the Act of 1887-1888, § 1 (Jud.Code § 51), to cases in which the action is brought in the district of the plaintiff's residence. P. 250 U. S. 313.
Where an action on contract is brought against resident and nonresident defendants, the exemption of the nonresident from suit under Jud.Code § 51 is personal to him, and cannot be availed of by his codefendants. P. 250 U. S. 316.
In an action for damages on a joint contract, all of the obligors are not indispensable parties, and, under Jud.Code § 50, the district court may render judgment against those over whom it has acquired jurisdiction. P. 250 U. S. 316.
In such case, error in assuming jurisdiction and rendering judgment as to all of the joint contractors will not necessitate a reversal as to those properly included if their interests could not have been prejudiced thereby. P. 250 U. S. 317.
Appellate proceedings in this Court and in the circuit court of appeals are not affected by the Conformity Act, but are governed entirely by the acts of Congress, the common law, and the ancient English statutes. Id.
In cases coming from federal courts, this Court has statutory power to enter such judgment or order as the nature of the case requires, and by the Act of February 26, 1919, amending Jud.Code, § 269, the duty is especially enjoined of giving judgment in appellate proceedings without regard to technical errors, defects, or exceptions which do not affect the substantial rights of the parties. P. 250 U. S. 318.
A writ of certiorari to the circuit court of appeals brings up the whole case, including questions affecting the merits, if properly saved, as well as those concerning the jurisdiction of the district court. Id.
A, the owner of all the shares of a corporation in which, or its assets, no other person was shown to be interested, agreed under seal to convey certain sawmill property standing in its name to a common venture with other parties, who agreed to convey timber lands, and that he and they should share in the venture in stated proportions. Due to their repudiation of their obligation, the sawmill property depreciated in value, and, it appearing that he was either its equitable owner, independently of his stock ownership, or acted as secret agent for the corporation, held that A could recover the full damage in an action on the contract, without any accounting and settlement of the corporation's affairs, and that the measure was the whole depreciation, and not merely a part of it proportionate to the other parties' stipulated interest in the proposed enterprise. Id.
244 F. 121 reversed in part and affirmed in part.
The case is stated in the opinion.