MR. JUSTICE MATTHEWS delivered the opinion of the court. After stating the case as above reported, he continued:
That the cause when removed from the State to the Circuit Court was rightly removed is not denied. Under the Removal Act of 1875, the plaintiffs were authorized to remove their action,
The ground on which the suit was remanded was that it subsequently appeared that it did not really and substantially involve a controversy properly within the jurisdiction of the Circuit Court, according to the sense of the 5th section of the act of March 3, 1875. This conclusion, it is supposed, is justified by the fact that the defendant Oaks, being merely a tenant of Maria Zeidler, who claimed title to the premises in dispute, had no real interest in the controversy and was a merely nominal party, his landlord being the real party in interest, entitled to be let in to defend as a party to the record, and bound by law to maintain his tenant's possession; so that the real and substantial controversy involved in and to be determined by the action, was not between the plaintiffs and Oaks, but between them and the Zeidlers; and the latter being citizens of the same State with the plaintiffs, it became apparent that the cause was not properly within the jurisdiction of the Circuit Court.
The statutes of Missouri provide that "every tenant on whom a summons in an action to recover the tenements held by him shall be served shall forthwith give notice thereof to the person or the agent of the person of whom such tenant holds, under the penalty of forfeiting to such person the value of three years' rent of the premises occupied by him." 1 Rev. Stat. Missouri, 1879, 514, § 3071. And by § 2244, that "the person from or through whom the defendant claims title to the premises may, on motion, be made a co-defendant." 1 Rev. Stat. Missouri, 374. And it is claimed that, under the decisions of the Supreme Court of the State, this right of the owner or warrantor of the title to be let in as a party to defend, does not rest in the discretion of the court, but is absolute. Sutton v. Casseleggi, 77 Missouri, 397, 408. It is assumed that the statute is equally obligatory upon the courts of the United States.
But this is a mistake. It is true that by Rev. Stat. § 914, it is required that "the practice, pleadings, and forms and modes of proceeding in civil causes, other than equity and admiralty
It is equally an error to assume that the plaintiffs had not a substantial and real controversy with the defendant Oaks, and that their controversy was solely with the Zeidlers. The object and purpose of the action was to recover possession of the real estate in the visible and actual occupation of Oaks, and not otherwise in the possession of his landlord, than by force of his tenancy. The Zeidlers were not citizens of Missouri, nor residents of the district, and could not have been sued by the plaintiffs. The latter were not bound to look beyond the person who, by his occupation of the disputed premises, was holding adversely to their claim; and if the Zeidlers were permitted to defend, it was for their own interest, and not because they were either necessary or indispensable parties to the proceeding in which the plaintiffs were the actors. The controversy, so far as the Zeidlers were interested in it, was of their own seeking, and as their rights could not be concluded by a judgment against the tenant, they were not in a position to insist that the plaintiffs should forego their legal right to proceed against the
Undoubtedly it was the duty of the Circuit Court in this case to give effect to the statute of Missouri, as far as it could, but not at the expense of its jurisdiction. "It must be held," as was said in Erstein v. Rothschild, 22 Fed. Rep. 61, 64, "that the body of the local law thus adopted in the general, must be considered in the courts of the United States in the light of their own system of jurisprudence, as defined by their own constitution as tribunals, and of other acts of Congress on the same subject. It can hardly be supposed that it was the intent of this legislation to place the courts of the United States in each State, in reference to their own practice and procedure, upon the footing merely of subordinate State courts, required to look from time to time to the Supreme Court of the State for authoritative rules for their guidance in those details. To do so, would be, in many cases, to trench, in important particulars not easy to foresee, upon substantial rights, protected by the peculiar constitution of the Federal judiciary, and which might seriously affect, in cases easily supposed, the proper correlation and independence of the two systems of Federal and State judicial tribunals."
It was quite proper, therefore, for the Circuit Court to admit the landlord as a party, for the purpose of defending his tenant's possession, and through that, his own title; and to this end, he might not only be permitted to appear as a party to the record and codefendant, but to control the defence as dominus litis, raising and conducting such issues as his own rights and
In this view, the Circuit Court was right in admitting the Zeidlers as codefendants, but there was error in remanding the cause to the State court. For this error,
The judgment complained of is reversed, and the cause is remanded to the Circuit Court with directions to proceed in the action according to law.