Phillips Petroleum Co. v. Texaco Inc.
415 U.S. 125 (1974)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Phillips Petroleum Co. v. Texaco Inc., 415 U.S. 125 (1974)

Phillips Petroleum Co. v. Texaco Inc.

No. 73-347

Decided February 19, 1974

415 U.S. 125

Syllabus

Respondent, relying for federal jurisdiction on 28 U.S.C. § 1331(a), brought this action in District Court for the reasonable value of helium beyond what petitioner had already paid respondent for natural gas under the sales contract. The District Court granted petitioner's motion to dismiss for lack of federal jurisdiction. The Court of Appeals reversed on the basis of its decision in Northern Natural Gas Co. v. Grounds, 441 F.2d 704, a federal interpleader action, in which the court found that the statutory provisions in the Helium Act Amendments of 1960 and the Natural Cas Act do not apply to a sale of commingled helium as a component of the natural gas stream, and that natural gas rates authorized by the Federal Power Commission would thus not bar the seller from recovering the reasonable value of the helium constituent.

Held: Respondent's suit is, in effect, an action in quantum meruit, whose source is state, and not federal, law. Under the Grounds decision, supra, those federal statutory provisions do not create a federal right of recovery, but only preclude interposition of a plea of payment to defeat a quasi-contractual suit for the helium constituent, which is insufficient to support federal jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331(a). Gully v. First National Bank,299 U. S. 109, 299 U. S. 113.

Certiorari granted; 481 F.2d 70, reversed.

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