Sibbach v. Wilson & Co., Inc.
312 U.S. 1 (1941)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Sibbach v. Wilson & Co., Inc., 312 U.S. 1 (1941)

Sibbach v. Wilson & Co., Inc.

No. 28

Argued December 17, 1940

Decided January 13, 1941

312 U.S. 1

Syllabus

1. Congress has power to regulate the practice and procedure of federal courts, and may exercise it by delegating to the Supreme or other federal courts authority to make rules not inconsistent with the statutes or Constitution of the United States. P. 312 U. S. 9.

2. The Act of June 19, 1934, empowering the Supreme Court to prescribe rules for the District Courts of the United States in civil actions, was restricted in its operation to matters of pleading, practice, and procedure. P. 312 U. S. 10.

3. Insofar as they are within the authority granted by Congress, the Rules of Civil Procedure prescribed by the Supreme Court under authority of the Act of June 19, 1934, repeal the Conformity Act. P. 312 U. S. 10.

4. Rule 35 of the Rules of Civil Procedure for the District Courts of the United States, which provides that, in a suit in which the physical or mental condition of a party is in controversy, the court may order the party to submit to a physical or mental examination by a physician, held within the authority granted by Congress in the Act of June 19, 1934, and consistent with the limitation of that Act that the rules prescribed shall not abridge, enlarge, or modify the "substantive rights" of any litigant. P. 312 U. S. 14.

5. Union Pacific Ry. Co. v. Botsford,141 U. S. 250, and Camden & Suburban Ry. v. Stetson,177 U. S. 172, explained. P. 312 U. S. 11.

6.Rules 35 and 37 of the Rules of Civil Procedure are rules of procedure, and their prescription did not exceed the authority granted by the Act of June 19, 1934, merely because they involve "important" or "substantial" rights. P. 312 U. S. 13.

Page 312 U. S. 2

7. That Congress reserved the power to examine, before they should become effective, rules proposed pursuant to the Act, and took no adverse action in respect of Rule 35, indicates that no transgression of legislative policy was found. P. 312 U. S. 15.

8. Refusal to obey an order under Rule 35 requiring a party to submit to a physical or mental examination is exempted by Rule 37(b)(2)(iv) from punishment as for a contempt. The remedies for such refusal are those enumerated in Rule 37(b)(2)(i), (ii), and (iii). P. 312 U. S. 16.

9. The action of the District Court in this case, punishing as for contempt a refusal to obey an order under Rule 35 requiring a plaintiff to submit to a physical examination, was such plain error as this Court may notice although not assigned or specified either in the Circuit Court of Appeals or here. P. 312 U. S. 16.

108 F.2d 415 reversed.

Certiorari, 309 U.S. 650, to review the affirmance of an order committing for contempt.

Page 312 U. S. 6

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