Vicksburg v. Henson,
231 U.S. 259 (1913)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Vicksburg v. Henson, 231 U.S. 259 (1913)

Vicksburg v. Henson

No. 546

Argued October 28, 1913

Decided December 1, 1913

231 U.S. 259


A decree of the district court to the effect that a contemplated issue of bonds, the issuance of which the bill sought to enjoin as wholly illegal, was illegal at that time, leaving open the question of whether it might be legal at a subsequent time, held, under the circumstances of this case, to be a final decree from which an appeal could be taken to the circuit court of appeals.

Although the original bill depended solely upon diverse citizenship, independent grounds of deprivation of federal rights which existed prior to the filing of the bill may be brought into the case by amended bill, and if so, the jurisdiction of the district court does not rest solely on diverse citizenship, and the judgment of the circuit court of appeals is not final, but an appeal may be taken to this Court. Macfadden v. United States, 213 U. S. 288.

While the enforcement of the rule of res judicata is essential to secure the peace and repose of society, it is equally true that to enforce the rule upon unsubstantial grounds would work injustice.

Page 231 U. S. 260

A decree is to be construed with reference to the issue it was meant to decide; its nature and extent is not to be determined by isolated portions thereof, but upon the issue made and what it was intended to accomplish.

A decree in a former action between a municipal water company and the municipality that the former had an exclusive contract for a specified period and that the latter could not issue bonds for the purpose of establishing a municipal water supply to be forthwith put into operation, rendered while the franchise had a long period to run, held in this case not to be res judicata as to the right of the municipality to issue bonds within a short time prior to the expiration of the franchise for the purpose of erecting waterworks which were not to be put into operation until after the expiration of the existing franchise.

203 F. 1023 reversed.

The facts, which involve the jurisdiction of this Court of appeals from judgments of the circuit court of appeals and the extent to which a former judgment is res judicata of the right of a municipality to issue bonds for establishing a water supply in view of existing contracts with a water works company, are stated in the opinion.

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