Doyle v. Continental Insurance Company
94 U.S. 535

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U.S. Supreme Court

Doyle v. Continental Insurance Company, 94 U.S. 535 (1876)

Doyle v. Continental Insurance Company

94 U.S. 535

Syllabus

1. The court reaffirms the decision in Insurance Company v. Morse, 20 Wall. 445, that an agreement to abstain in all cases from resorting to the courts of the United States is void as against public policy and that a statute of Wisconsin requiring such an agreement is in conflict with the Constitution of the United States.

2. A state has the right to impose conditions, not in conflict with the Constitution or the laws of the United States, to the transaction of business within its territory by an insurance company chartered by another state or to exclude such company from its territory, or, having given a license, to revoke it with or without cause.,

3. The Legislature of Wisconsin enacted that if any foreign insurance company transferred a suit brought against it from the state courts to the federal courts, the secretary of state should revoke and cancel its license to do business within the state. An injunction to restrain him from so doing because such a transfer is made cannot be sustained. The suggestion that the intent of the legislature is to accomplish an illegal result, to-wit the prevention of a resort to the federal courts, is not accurate. The effect of this decision is that the company must forego such resort or cease its business in the state. The latter result is here accomplished.

4. As the state has the right to exclude such company, the means by which she causes such exclusion or the motives of her action are not the subject of judicial inquiry.

The bill of complaint alleges that the complainant, the Continental Insurance Company of the City of New York, is a corporation organized and existing under the laws of the State of Connecticut and a citizen of that state.

That prior to the passage of the act of the Legislature of the State of Wisconsin, entitled "An Act to provide for the incorporation and government of fire and inland navigation insurance companies," approved March 4, 1870, the complainant had established agencies, opened offices, and made considerable expenditures of money in advertising the business of insurance against loss by fire in the State of Wisconsin. That soon after the passage of said act, complainant complied with the provisions of sec. 22 thereof and procured from the state treasurer and secretary of state the certificates and license to do business in said state as therein provided, and did subsequently fully comply with said act, but that upon filing appointment of an agent

Page 94 U. S. 536

upon whom process of law could be served, complainant was compelled to add an agreement on its part not to remove into the federal courts suits brought against it in the state courts, which agreement to that effect was made. That after the decision of this Court in Insurance Company v. Paige, 20 Wall. 445, the complainant removed a suit brought on one of its policies against it in the state court into the federal court. That because of such removal, a demand was made upon the defendant Peter Doyle, as secretary of state, to revoke the certificate or license authorizing the complainant to do business in said State of Wisconsin.

That complainant had a large number of agencies in the state engaged in the conduct of its business, and a revocation of its license would work great and irreparable injury to the complainant in its business in said state, and the complainant feared that said defendant would revoke said license, unless restrained by injunction. A temporary injunction was issued restraining the defendant from revoking the license of the complainant because of the removal of said suit from the state to the federal court.

A demurrer to the bill was overruled and a decree entered making the injunction perpetual. From this decree the defendant appealed.

Sec. 22, c. 56, Laws of Wisconsin, 1870, provides as follows:

"That any fire insurance company, association, or partnership, incorporated by or organized under the laws of any other state of the United States, desiring to transact any such business as aforesaid by any agent or agents in this state shall first appoint an attorney in this state on whom process of law can be served, containing an agreement that such company will not remove the suit for trial in the United States circuit or federal courts, and file in the office of the secretary of state a written instrument, duly signed and sealed, certifying such appointment, which shall continue until another attorney be substituted."

Secs. 1 and 3, c. 64, are in the following words:

"SECTION 1. If any insurance company or association shall make application to change the venue or remove any suit or action heretofore commenced or which shall be hereafter commenced in any

Page 94 U. S. 537

court of the State of Wisconsin to the United States circuit or district court or to the federal court contrary to the provisions of any law of the State of Wisconsin or contrary to any agreement it has made and filed, or may make and file, as provided and required by section number twenty-two of chapter fifty-six of the General Laws of Wisconsin for the year A.D. 1870, or any provision of law now in force in said state, or may hereafter be enacted therein, it shall be the imperative duty of the secretary of state or other proper state officer to revoke and recall any authority or license to such company to do and transact any business in the State of Wisconsin, and no renewal or new license or certificate shall be granted to such company for three years after such revocation, and such company shall thereafter be prohibited from transacting any business in the State of Wisconsin until again duly licensed."

"SEC. 3. If any insurance company or association shall make application to remove any case from the state court into the United States circuit or district court or federal court contrary to the provisions of chapter fifty-six of the General Laws of Wisconsin for the year A.D. 1870, or any other state law, or contrary to any agreement which such company may have filed in pursuance of said chapter fifty-six of the General Laws of Wisconsin for the year A.D. 1870, or any other law of the State of Wisconsin, it shall be liable, in addition, to a penalty of not less than $100 or more than $500 for each application so made, or for each offense so committed for making such application, the same to be recovered by suit in the name of the State of Wisconsin, and it shall be the imperative duty of the Attorney-General of the State of Wisconsin to see and attend that all of the provisions of said chapter fifty-six of the General Laws of 1870 and the provisions of this act are duly enforced."

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