Cunningham v. Macon & Brunswick R. Co.
Annotate this Case
109 U.S. 446 (1883)
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U.S. Supreme Court
Cunningham v. Macon & Brunswick R. Co., 109 U.S. 446 (1883)
Cunningham v. Macon and Brunswick Railroad Company
Argued November 2, 5, 1883
Decided December 3, 1883
109 U.S. 446
1. The State of Georgia endorsed the bonds of a railroad company, taking a lien upon the railroad as security. The company failing to pay interest upon the endorsed bonds, the governor of the state took possession of the road and put it into the hands of a receiver, who made sale of it to the state. The state then took possession of it and took up the endorsed bonds, substituting the bonds of the state in their place. The holders of an issue of mortgage bonds issued by the railroad company subsequently to those endorsed by the state, but before the default in payment of interest, filed a bill in equity to foreclose their own mortgage and to set aside the said sale and to be let in as prior in lien, and for other relief affecting the property, and set forth the above facts and made the governor and the treasurer of the state parties. Those officers demurred. Held that the facts in the bill show that the state is so interested in the property that final relief cannot be granted without making it a party, and the court is without jurisdiction.
2. Whenever it is clearly seen that a state is an indispensable party to enable the court, according to the rules which govern its procedure, to grant the relief sought, it will refuse to take jurisdiction.
3. The cases at law and in equity in which the court has taken jurisdiction when the objection has been interposed that a state was a necessary party to enable the court to grant relief examined and classified.
4. The case of United States v. Lee, 106 U. S. 196, examined, and the limits of the decision defined.
5. The case of Davis v. Gray, 16 Wall. 203, questioned.
Bill in equity by holders of second mortgage bonds of a railroad company, to foreclose their own mortgage and to set aside a previous sale of the railroad to the State of Georgia under the foreclosure of the first mortgage, and for other relief. Bill dismissed below on demurrer for want of jurisdiction, and the plaintiff below appealed. The facts appear in the opinion of the Court.