Alexander Bryant Co. v. New York Steam Fitting Co.,
Annotate this Case
235 U.S. 327 (1914)
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U.S. Supreme Court
Alexander Bryant Co. v. New York Steam Fitting Co., 235 U.S. 327 (1914)
Alexander Bryant Company v.
New York Steam Fitting Company
Argued November 9, 1914
Decided December 7, 1914
235 U.S. 327
Where the district court understood that the controversy involved its jurisdiction, and dismissed the case because the publication under the Materialmen's Act was insufficient to bring in some of the necessary parties, and so certified, the issue of jurisdiction is involved and this Court has jurisdiction of a direct appeal under § 238, Judicial Code.
Even if the district court is in error in holding that failure to perform a prerequisite condition to commencing an action raises a question of jurisdiction of the court, and dismisses the action on that ground instead of on the merits, this Court can and must review the decision and correct the error, if any, under § 238, Judicial Code.
Although a statute may be ambiguous and repel accommodation, the court must try to give coherence to its conflicting provisions and accomplish the intent of the legislature.
The Materialmen's Act of 1894, as amended in 1905, is highly remedial; its purpose, simple and beneficial, is to give a remedy to materialmen and laborers on the bond of the original contractor and a reasonable time to enforce it and to unite all claimants in a single proceeding.
Although the provisions of the act present an apparently insolvable puzzle owing to ambiguity and conflict with each other, they must be adapted to fulfill the purpose of the act, and the court must consider which of such provisions must give way and which are the fittest to accomplish that result.
The provision in the third proviso of the amended Materialmen's Act requiring notice to be given to other creditors by the creditor availing of the right to commence suit within the year in case the government has not instituted a suit within six months after completion, is not of the essence of jurisdiction of the court over such a case nor a condition of the liability of the surety on the bond.
The facts, which involve the construction of the Materialmen's Acts of 1894 and 1905, are stated in the opinion.