American Nat. Red Cross v. S. G.
Annotate this Case
505 U.S. 247 (1992)
- Syllabus |
OCTOBER TERM, 1991
AMERICAN NATIONAL RED CROSS v. S. G. ET AL.
CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIRST CIRCUIT
No. 91-594. Argued March 3, 1992-Decided June 19, 1992
In a state-court tort action, respondents alleged that one of them had contracted AIDS from a transfusion of contaminated blood supplied by petitioner American National Red Cross. The Red Cross removed the suit to the Federal District Court, claiming federal jurisdiction based on, inter alia, the provision in its federal charter authorizing it "to sue and be sued in courts of law and equity, State or Federal, within the jurisdiction of the United States." The court rejected respondents' motion to remand the case to state court, holding that the charter provision conferred original federal jurisdiction. The Court of Appeals reversed.
Held: The charter's "sue and be sued" provision confers original federalcourt jurisdiction. pp. 250-265.
(a) A congressional charter's "sue and be sued" provision may be read to confer federal-court jurisdiction if, but only if, it specifically mentions the federal courts. The charter must contain an express authorization, such as "in all state courts ... and in any circuit court of the United States," Osborn v. Bank of United States, 9 Wheat. 738, 818, or "'in any court of law or equity, State or Federal,'" D'Oench, Duhme & Co. v. FDIC, 315 U. S. 447, 455-456, rather than a mere grant of general corporate capacity to sue, such as "'in courts of record, or any other place whatsoever,'" Bank of the United States v. Deveaux, 5 Cranch 61, 8586, or "in all courts of law and equity within the United States," Bankers Trust Co. v. Texas & Pacific R. Co., 241 U. S. 295,304-305. The Red Cross Charter provision has an express authorization and thus should be read to confer jurisdiction. Pp. 250-257.
(b) Respondents' several arguments against this conclusion-that the well-pleaded complaint rule bars the removal; that language in congressional charters enacted closely in time to the 1947 amendment of the Red Cross Charter incorporating the provision in dispute show a coherent drafting pattern that casts doubt on congressional intent to confer federal jurisdiction over Red Cross cases; and that the 1947 amendment was meant not to confer jurisdiction, but to clarify the Red Cross' capacity to sue in federal courts where an independent jurisdictional basis exists-are all unavailing. Pp. 257-263.
(c) The holding in this case leaves the jurisdiction of the federal courts well within Article Ill's limits. This Court has consistently held
that Article Ill's "arising under" jurisdiction is broad enough to authorize Congress to confer federal-court jurisdiction over actions involving federally chartered corporations. Pp. 264-265.
938 F.2d 1494, reversed and remanded.
SOUTER, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which WHITE, BLACKMUN, STEVENS, and THOMAS, JJ., joined. SCALIA, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which REHNQUIST, C. J., and O'CONNOR and KENNEDY, JJ., joined, post, p. 265.
Roy T. Englert, Jr., argued the cause for petitioner. With him on the briefs were Kenneth S. Geller, Bruce M. Chadwick, Karen Shoos Lipton, and Edward L. Wolf
Ronald J. Mann argued the cause for the United States as amicus curiae urging reversal. With him on the brief were Solicitor General Starr, Assistant Attorney General Gerson, and Deputy Solicitor General Roberts.
Gilbert Upton argued the cause for respondents. With him on the brief were Gary B. Richardson and David P. Slawsky. *
JUSTICE SOUTER delivered the opinion of the Court.
The Charter of the American National Red Cross authorizes the organization "to sue and be sued in courts of law and equity, State or Federal, within the jurisdiction of the United States." 33 Stat. 600, as amended, 36 U. S. C. § 2. In this case we consider whether that "sue and be sued" provision confers original jurisdiction on federal courts over all cases to which the Red Cross is a party, with the consequence that the organization is thereby authorized to remove from state to federal court any state-law action it is defending. We hold that the clause does confer such jurisdiction.
In 1988 respondents filed a state-law tort action in a court of the State of New Hampshire, alleging that one of respond-
*Christopher V. Tisi and Bob Gibbins filed a brief for the Association of Trial Lawyers of America as amicus curiae urging affirmance.