112 U.S. 187 (1884)

AYRES & Others v. WISWALL & Others.

Supreme Court of United States.

Decided November 10, 1884.

Attorney(s) appearing for the Case

Mr. John F. Dillon and Mr. John Atkinson for appellants.

Mr. J.H. McGowan and Mr. W.T. Mitchell for appellees.

MR. CHIEF JUSTICE WAITE delivered the opinion of the court. He stated the facts in the foregoing language, and continued:

The 5th section of the act of March 3, 1875, makes it the duty of the Circuit Court of the United States to remand a cause which has been removed from a State court when it shall appear to the satisfaction of the court, at any time after the suit has been removed, that such suit does not really and substantially involve a dispute or controversy properly within the jurisdiction of the court. For this purpose the Circuit Court retained its power over the suit and the parties until the end of the term at which the final decree was rendered. The parties were not, in law, discharged from their attendance in the cause until the close of the term, and the decree, though entered, was "in the breast of the court" until the final adjournment. Bac. Abr. tit. Amendment and Jeofail, A; Ex parte Lange, 18 Wall. 163; Goddard v. Ordway, 101 U.S. 745, 752. The order to remand can be made at any time during the pendency of the cause when it shall appear there is no jurisdiction. The fact that Ebenezer R. Ayres had filed his answer in the United States court is a matter of no importance. That fact did not of itself confer jurisdiction if there had been none before. It will be for the State court, when the case gets back there, to determine what shall be done with pleadings filed and testimony taken during the pendency of the suit in the other jurisdiction.

The suit was brought for the foreclosure of the mortgage, and a personal money decree for any balance that might remain due on the debt after the security of the mortgage was exhausted. The mortgage and the debt it secured presented the subject matter of the controversy in the case. Ebenezer Wiswall was one of the mortgagors and one of the debtors. The relief sought was against him and the other defendants. It involved a finding of the amount due from him and the others who were bound for the payment of the debt, and in a certain event an order for an execution against him personally for the collection of the money. The debt was a unit. Whatever sum was due from one was also due from all who were chargeable with its payment. There could not be a decree against a part of the defendants for one sum, and against the rest for another. Although Wiswall did not contest the amount of the claim of the complainants as set out in their bill, Frederick S. Ayres, one of the joint debtors, did; and if he succeeds in his defence it will, of necessity, inure to the benefit of Wiswall. The matter in dispute between the parties on the opposite side of the suit to enforce the mortgage, was the amount due on the mortgage debt. The complainants, citizens of New York, are on one side of the suit, and Ebenezer Wiswall, also a citizen of New York, and others, citizens of Michigan and Ohio, on the other. If the claim of the complainants is sustained, the decree will be against all the defendants. In order that the complainants may get all the relief they ask, and which, upon their showing in the bill, they are entitled to, Wiswall is a necessary and substantial party to the suit, and on the opposite side from them.

The material facts of this case are entirely different from those in the Removal Cases, 100 U.S. 457, where there was one controversy between the construction company and the railroad company as to the existence of a mechanics' lien and the amount due thereon, and another between the construction company and certain mortgage trustees as to the priority of their respective liens. In the progress of the cause the mechanics' lien was established against the company, and the property sold under the lien to pay the mechanics' debt. This ended that controversy. There then remained to be settled the other controversy between the construction company and the mortgage trustees, and we held that, as the railroad company was not interested in that dispute, it was to be treated as a nominal party only. It stood indifferent between the two real parties. No decree was asked against it, and the rights of the parties who were really contending could be fully settled without its presence.

So in Pacific Railroad v. Ketchum, 101 U.S. 289, 298, we held that the trustees of a mortgage, which was being foreclosed at the suit of bondholders, might properly be arranged on the same side of the controversy about the foreclosure with the complainants, although they were nominally defendants, because there was no antagonism between them and the complainants, and no relief was asked against them. Here, however, relief is asked against Wiswall, and it grows directly out of the subject matter of the action, to wit, the collection of the mortgage debt which Wiswall owes jointly with the other debtors.

It follows that, as Wiswall was a citizen of the same State with the complainants, the suit was not removable under the first clause of § 2 of the act of 1875. All the parties on one side of the controversy were not citizens of different States from those on the other. Removal Cases, supra.

It remains to consider whether it was removable under the second clause, on the ground that there was in the suit "a controversy which is wholly between citizens of different States, and which can be fully determined as between them." The petition for removal was framed to meet this provision of the statute. What we have already said applies equally well to this branch of the case. The rule is now well established that this clause in the section refers only to suits where there exists "a separate and distinct cause of action, on which a separate and distinct suit might have been brought and complete relief afforded as to such cause of action, with all the parties on one side of that controversy citizens of different States from those on the other. To say the least, the case must be one capable of separation into parts, so that, in one of the parts, a controversy will be presented with citizens of one or more States on one side and citizens of other States on the other, which can be fully determined without the presence of the other parties to the suit as it has been begun." Frazer v. Jennison, 106 U.S. 191, 194. As has already been seen, this is not such a case. There is here but one cause of action. The personal decree which is asked against Wiswall is incident to the main purpose of the suit. It presents no separate cause of action. The fact that separate answers were filed which raised separate issues in defending against the one cause of action, does not create separate controversies within the meaning of that term as used in the statute. They simply present different questions to be settled in determining the rights of the parties in respect to the one cause of action for which the suit was brought. Hyde v. Ruble, 104 U.S. 407; Winchester v. Loud, 108 U.S. 130; Shainwald v. Lewis, 108 U.S. 158.

It follows that the suit was properly remanded, and the order of the Circuit Court to that effect is consequently



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