In re Merchants' Stock & Grain Co.,
223 U.S. 639 (1912)

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U.S. Supreme Court

In re Merchants' Stock & Grain Co., 223 U.S. 639 (1912)

In re Merchants' Stock and Grain Company

No. 10, Original

Submitted December 11, 1911

Decided March 4, 1912

223 U.S. 639


Where the Circuit Court enters an order requiring a party violating an injunction order to pay a fine of which three-fourths is to go to the complainant as compensation for expenses incurred in prosecuting the contempt proceedings, and one-fourth to the United States, the punitive feature of the order is dominant, and fixes its character for purposes of review.

An order adjudging a party in contempt for violating an injunction is remedial when its purpose is to indemnify the injured suitor, or coercively to secure obedience to a mandate in his behalf, and is punitive when its purpose is to vindicate the authority of the court. Gompers v. Bucks Stove & Range Co., 221 U. S. 418.

Whether contempt proceedings at the instance of the injured party, resulting in the offending party's being adjudged to pay a fine, a part of which goes to the injured suitor and a part to the United States, is erroneous in its entirety, or only as to the portion of the fine going to the United States, will not be determined on an application for mandamus to compel the circuit court of appeals to take jurisdiction of an appeal; the court will only determine whether the order is reviewable.

If an order of the circuit court adjudging defendant in contempt and to pay a fine is remedial, it is interlocutory, and only reviewable upon appeal from the final decree; if, however, the order is punitive, it is final and reviewable on writ of error, and the circuit court of appeals should take jurisdiction. Matter of Christensen Engineering Co., 194 U. S. 458.

If the circuit court of appeals refuses to take jurisdiction of a writ of error to review an order of contempt made by the circuit court the punitive feature of which is dominant, the remedy is by writ of mandamus from this Court to compel the circuit court of appeals to take jurisdiction.

The facts are stated in the opinion.

Page 223 U. S. 640

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