Coe v. Armour Fertilizer Works,
237 U.S. 413 (1915)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Coe v. Armour Fertilizer Works, 237 U.S. 413 (1915)

Coe v. Armour Fertilizer Works

No. 140

Submitted January 20, 1915

Decided May 3, 1915

237 U.S. 413


Where the case was tried twice below and twice went to the highest court of the state and the federal question was decided adversely to plaintiff in error on the first appeal, he is not concluded thereby because he failed to then take a writ of error if it appears that the first judgment of the higher court did not finally dispose of the case, but required further proceedings in the court below.

Not until the judgment of the court of last resort is final will a writ of error lie to this Court under § 237 Judicial Code.

The contention that, under the local practice on a second writ of error to the supreme court of the state, a federal question that was passed on at the first hearing is not open cannot be sustained in this Court if, as a matter of fact, the state court did pass on the question on the second hearing and decide it adversely to plaintiff in error.

Page 237 U. S. 414

Any course of procedure having for its object the taking of property to satisfy an alleged legal obligation without according any hearing to a respectful protest invoking the supreme law of the land cannot be regarded as due process of law.

Section 2677, General Statutes of Florida of 1906, as amended in 1909, as construed by the highest court of the state, is repugnant to the due process provision of the Fourteenth Amendment insofar as it allows, after execution has been returned "no property" against a corporation, an execution to issue against a stockholder for the same debt to be enforced against his property to the extent of his unpaid subscription as the same appears on the books of the corporation without notice to such stockholder or other preliminary step.

While a judgment against a corporation without fraud or collusion in a court having jurisdiction may be made conclusive upon the stockholder, as to existence and amount of the debt, the property of a third party may not be taken to satisfy that debt, upon the ground that he is a stockholder and indebted to the corporation, without granting him an opportunity to be heard.

One protesting against his property's being taken without due process of law cannot be denied such process on the ground that due process would lead to the same result, as he had no defense on the merits.

Extra-official or casual notice, or a hearing granted as matter of favor or discretion, does not take the place of the notice with right and opportunity to be heard which the due process provision of the federal Constitution requires.

In this case, the execution was not a mere attachment establishing a lien without going further until after opportunity to be heard.

Where defendant comes into court for the sole purpose of objecting on jurisdictional grounds to the execution of final process against his property, his petition cannot, under the due process provision of the Fourteenth Amendment, be converted into a tender of an issue of fact respecting his status as a stockholder so as to conclude him on a matter not within the pleadings and which was not litigated.

63 Fla. 64 reversed.

The facts, which involve the constitutionality of § 2677, General Statutes of Florida of 1906, as amended by the Act of 1909, c. 5892, relating to the liability of stockholders for judgment debts of the corporation to the extent of their subscriptions remaining unpaid, are stated in the opinion.

Page 237 U. S. 416

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