Filhiol v. Maurice,
185 U.S. 108 (1902)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Filhiol v. Maurice, 185 U.S. 108 (1902)

Filhiol v. Maurice

No. 60

Argued March 5-6, 1902

Decided April 7, 1902

185 U.S. 108


In an action of ejectment against private individuals, the jurisdiction of the circuit court cannot be maintained on the ground that, by averments that plaintiffs were ousted in violation of the Treaty of October 21, 1803, and of the Fifth Amendment, the provisions of which it was the duty of the federal government to observe, it appeared that the case arose under the Constitution, or laws, or treaties of the United States.

This was an action of ejectment brought by Hippolite Filhiol and others in the Circuit Court of the United States for the Eastern District of Arkansas, against Charles E. Maurice, Charles G. Convers, and William G. Maurice, for the recovery of a parcel of land in the City of Hot Springs, Garland County, Arkansas, on the permanent reservation at Hot Springs described

Page 185 U. S. 109

as Bath House site No. 8, and for rent thereof as damages. Plaintiffs deraigned title as heirs at law of Don Juan Filhiol, to whom it was alleged the lands were granted February 22, 1788, by the then Spanish governor of the Province of Louisiana, by virtue of which grant said Filhiol became the owner of a tract of "about three miles square, embracing all the hot springs in the City of Hot Springs, Garland County, Arkansas," and including the parcel of land for which plaintiffs brought suit. The complaint did not aver the citizenship of plaintiff or defendants, although the caption described plaintiffs as residents of several states other than Arkansas, but it was averred as follows:

"And for cause of action say that, by the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States and the third article of the treaty of the United States of America and the Republic of France, which was ratified on the 21st day of October, 1803, the United States undertook and agreed to maintain the said Don Juan Filhiol and his heirs in their right and title to the land in controversy and their full enjoyment of the same, but, in violation of the provisions of said treaty, and without due process of law, and in violation of the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, defendants did, without condemnation and without compensation to plaintiffs, on or about the second day of January, 1807, wrongfully and without right, oust the plaintiffs from the possession of the land in controversy, and for more than two years last past have held possession, and they now hold possession, of the land in controversy, wrongfully and without right, and they refuse to surrender possession of the same to plaintiffs."

Defendants demurred to the complaint on the ground that its allegations did not "constitute a cause of action."

The circuit court sustained the demurrer, and, plaintiffs electing to stand on their complaint and declining to amend, the complaint was dismissed with costs. A writ of error directly from this Court was then allowed.

Page 185 U. S. 110

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