This court declined to issue the writ of prohibition to the District Court of the United States for the Eastern District of New York from proceeding upon these libels because the alleged want of jurisdiction in the District Court over the vessels was in course of litigation in that court on due process. In re Fassett, Petitioner, 142 U.S. 479, 484. The state court upon the receiver's application granted in effect the prohibition which we denied, and restrained libellants from prosecuting their libels. The question is whether it was within the power of the state court to do this?
The general rule is that state courts cannot enjoin proceedings in the courts of the United States, and this was held at a very early day, in reference to a judgment of the Circuit Court; M'Kim v. Voorhies, 7 Cranch, 279, 281; while on the other hand, it was determined that the Circuit Court would
Mr. Justice Story was of opinion that to the doctrine which permits the courts of one State in proper cases to enjoin persons within their jurisdiction from instituting legal proceedings in other States, or from further proceeding in actions already begun, there exists the exception that the state courts cannot enjoin parties from proceeding in the courts of the United States, nor the latter enjoin them from proceeding in the former courts, an exception based upon peculiar grounds of municipal and constitutional law. Story Eq. § 900; Story Const. § 1757.
By the Judiciary Act of March 2, 1793, c. 22, § 5, 1 Stat. 334, the granting of injunction to stay proceedings in any
The provision of the act of 1793 was carried forward into section 720 of the Revised Statutes, with the addition of the words "except in cases where such injunction may be authorized by any law relating to proceedings in bankruptcy," and
In French v. Hay, 22 Wall. 250, a cause had been properly removed from a state court to the Circuit Court of the United States, under the removal acts, and the Circuit Court had vacated a decree previously rendered in the state court and dismissed the cause for want of equity, and it was held that the Circuit Court, having jurisdiction in personam over the parties, and having control over the cause, would not permit its jurisdiction to be trenched upon by any other tribunal, and might properly enjoin a party to the cause from proceeding beyond the territorial jurisdiction of the court in contravention of its decree. So, in Dietzsch v. Huidekoper, 103 U.S. 494, a plaintiff in a replevin suit brought in a state court had properly removed it to the Federal court and obtained a judgment there in his favor, but the state court proceeded to try the cause and render judgment against the plaintiff, notwithstanding the removal, and an action was then brought in the state court upon the replevin bond. It was held that the court of the United States might enjoin the prosecution of such action, the relief being merely ancillary to the jurisdiction already acquired and necessary to give effect to its own judgment.
And resort to injunction in proceedings in admiralty for the limitation of the liability of ship owners under an act of Congress, passed since the act of 1793, and expressly provided that after the institution of such proceedings "all claims and proceedings against the owner shall cease;" Act of March 3, 1851, c. 43, § 4; 9 Stat. 635; Rev. Stat. § 4285; was sustained in Providence & New York Steamship Co. v. Hill Manufacturing Co., 109 U.S. 578, 599, 600.
These were all cases in which the issue of an injunction to a state court had been expressly or impliedly authorized by Congress as necessary to the effectual exercise by a court of the United States of its lawful jurisdiction over particular persons or things.
In Gaylord v. Fort Wayne &c. Railroad, 6 Bissell, 286, 291, 292, a bill was filed in the Circuit Court of the United States
In Home Insurance Co. v. Howell, 24 N.J. Eq. (9 C.E. Green) 238, 241, the complainant filed its bill for relief against two policies of insurance, which it alleged the defendant had fraudulently obtained from it upon his property in Illinois, and prayed that the policies might be delivered up and cancelled or declared invalid, and that the defendant might be perpetually enjoined from bringing any suit at law or in equity upon them or making use of them in any way for the purpose of establishing any claim for damages against the complainant. Defendant appeared and filed an answer, to which a replication being filed, proofs were taken. After the suit was commenced, defendant brought an action at law on the policies against the company in a state court of Illinois, which suit was on its petition removed into the Circuit Court of the United States for the Northern District of that State.
In Brooks v. Delaplaine, 1 Md. Chan. 351, 354, the high court of chancery of Maryland dismissed a bill in equity, because at the time it was filed a suit involving the same controversy was pending in the county court having concurrent jurisdiction. And see the observations of Mr. Justice Field, in Sharon v. Terry, 36 Fed. Rep. 337, 355.
We decided in Cole v. Cunningham, 133 U.S. 107, that a creditor, who is a citizen and resident of the same State as his debtor, against whom insolvent proceedings have been instituted in such State, is bound by the assignment of the debtor's property in such proceedings, and if he attempts to seize or attach the personal property of the debtor situated in another State, and embraced in the assignment, he may be restrained by injunction by the courts of the State in which he and the debtor reside. But we also held in Reynolds v. Adden,
In Worthington v. Lee, 61 Maryland, 530, in a suit for specific performance of a covenant for the renewal of a lease and for an injunction to restrain an action of ejectment for the recovery of the premises, the Court of Appeals of Maryland held, Alvey, C.J., delivering the opinion of the court, that so far as the parties were within the jurisdiction of the court or bound by the decree, they might be restrained from taking any action at law in the courts of Maryland for the recovery of the property, but as to those parties residing in other States, they could not be restrained by injunction from the state court from suing in the Circuit Court of the United States, by which their right so to sue must be determined.
It will be perceived that the principle invoked in such cases as Gaylord v. Railroad Company and Insurance Company v. Howell, supra, is, that courts for the purpose of protecting their jurisdiction over persons and subject-matter may enjoin parties who are amenable to their process and subject to their jurisdiction from interference with them in respect of property in their possession or identical controversies therein pending, by subsequent proceedings as to the same parties and subject-matter in other courts of concurrent jurisdiction.
The proceeding in which upon petition the injunction under consideration was granted, was a proceeding in insolvency in the state court to dissolve and wind up the Schuyler Company
If the state court could not restrain proceedings in the District Court of the United States; if the jurisdiction of the state court over the libellants had not attached; or if the District Court obtained jurisdiction over the vessels in priority to the state court, then this judgment must be reversed.
It is a rule of general application that where property is in the actual possession of one court of competent jurisdiction, such possession cannot be disturbed by process out of another court. This doctrine has been repeatedly affirmed by this court. Hagan v. Lucas, 10 Pet. 400; Taylor v. Carryl, 20 How. 583; Peck v. Jenness, 7 How. 612, 625; Freeman v. Howe, 24 How. 450; Ellis v. Davis, 109 U.S. 485, 498; Krippendorf v. Hyde, 110 U.S. 276; Covell v. Heyman, 111 U.S. 176; Borer v. Chapman, 119 U.S. 587, 600. These cases were cited in Byers v. McAuley, 149 U.S. 608, 614; and the language of Mr. Justice Matthews in Covell v. Heyman was quoted to this effect: "The point of the decision in Freeman v. Howe, supra, is that, when property is taken and held under process, mesne or final, of a court of the United States, it is in the custody of the law, and within the exclusive jurisdiction of the court from which the process has issued, for the purposes of the writ; that the possession of the officer cannot be disturbed by process from any state court, because to disturb that possession would be to invade the jurisdiction of the court by whose command it is held, and to violate the law which that jurisdiction is appointed to administer; that any person, not a party to the suit or judgment, whose property has been wrongfully, but under color of process, taken and withheld, may prosecute, by ancillary proceedings, in the court whence the process issued, his remedy for restitution of the property or its proceeds while remaining in the control of
In Buck v. Colbath, 3 Wall. 334, 341, 345, the same rule was referred to as settled, and Mr. Justice Miller said: "A departure from this rule would lead to the utmost confusion, and to endless strife between courts of concurrent jurisdiction deriving their powers from the same source; but how much more disastrous would be the consequences of such a course, in the conflict of jurisdiction between courts whose powers are derived from entirely different sources, while their jurisdiction is concurrent as to the parties and the subject-matter of the suit. This principle, however, has its limitations; or rather its just definition is to be attended to. It is only while the property is in possession of the court, either actually or constructively, that the court is bound, or professes to protect that possession from the process of other courts. Whenever the litigation is ended, or the possession of the officer or court is discharged, other courts are at liberty to deal with it according to the rights of the parties before them, whether those rights require them to take possession of the property or not. The effect to be given in such cases to the adjudication of the court first possessed of the property, depends upon principles familiar to the law; but no contest arises about the mere possession, and no conflict but such as may be decided without unseemly and discreditable collisions." It was further said: "It is not true that a court, having obtained jurisdiction of a subject-matter of a suit, and of parties before it, thereby excludes all other courts from the right to adjudicate upon other
The reason was that his possession was the possession of the court, and, pending the litigation, no other court of merely concurrent jurisdiction could be permitted to disturb that possession, while the action of trespass constituted no such interference.
In this and like cases the question has arisen in respect of courts of concurrent jurisdiction as to parties and subject-matter.
But the question in the case at bar arises in respect of the state court and a District Court of the United States, whose cognizance of all civil causes of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction is, under the Constitution and by the ninth section of the Judiciary Act of 1789, (reproduced in Rev. Stat. § 711,) exclusive. The Lexington, [New Jersey Nav. Co. v. Merchants' Bank,] 6 How. 344, 390; The Moses Taylor, 4 Wall. 411; The Hine, 4 Wall. 555; The Lottawanna, 21 Wall. 558, 580; Johnson v. Chicago &c. Elevator Co., 119 U.S. 388, 397; The J.E. Rumbell, 148 U.S. 1, 12. As said by Mr. Justice Miller: "It must be taken as the settled law of this court, that wherever the District Courts of the United States have original cognizance of admiralty causes, by virtue of the act of 1789, that cognizance is exclusive, and no other court, state or national, can exercise it, with the exception always of such concurrent remedy as is given by the common law." 4 Wall. 568. The act saves to suitors in all cases "the right of a common law remedy, where the common law is competent to give it;" that is, not a remedy in the common law courts, but a common law remedy. Suitors are not compelled to seek such
A statutory proceeding to wind up a corporation is not a common law remedy, and a maritime lien cannot be enforced by any proceeding at common law. These libellants were entitled to have their causes tried in the court of admiralty, according to the rules and practice of admiralty, and that right could not be taken away from them, nor would the decree or judgment of the state court be pleadable in bar to their libels. If, then, the receiver had first taken actual possession of these vessels and sold them, such sale would not have cut off maritime liens and the right to have them enforced, and while it may be true that the state courts, exercising equitable jurisdiction, might undertake, in the distribution of property, to save the rights of holders of maritime liens, yet it is certain that those courts would have no power by a sale under statute to destroy their liens unless they had voluntarily submitted themselves to that jurisdiction.
In Taylor v. Carryl, 20 How. 583, 601, it was held that where a vessel had been seized under process of foreign attachment issuing from a state court in Pennsylvania, and a motion was pending in that court for an order of sale, process issued under a libel filed in the District Court of the United States for mariners' wages and supplies, could not divest the authorities of the State of their authority over the vessel; and of the two sales made, one by the sheriff and one by the marshal, the sale by the sheriff must be considered as conveying the legal title to the property, and the sale by the marshal as inoperative. And this because while the property levied upon was in the actual possession of one jurisdiction, it should not be taken by an officer acting under another. Mr. Chief Justice Taney and three of his associates dissented upon the ground that the question was not one "between the relative powers of a State and the United States, acting through their judicial tribunals, but merely upon the relative powers and
As already pointed out, it was held in Buck v. Colbath, supra, that whenever the litigation in the court where the property is first seized has ended, or the possession of such court or its officers is discharged, then other courts are at liberty to deal with it according to the rights of the parties before them, whether those rights require them to take possession of the property or not. This view is illustrated by many decisions in the District Courts, and was applied by Mr. Justice Blatchford, then district judge, in The Sailor Prince, 1 Ben. 234.
That was a case of a libel by seamen to recover wages against a ship and freight money, wherein the marshal made return to the process that he had not attached the vessel, but had attached the freight money in the hands of the parties who held it. Prior to the service of process, suit had been brought in the state court against the owners of the vessel, in which warrants of attachment had been issued, under which the sheriff had seized and was holding her when the marshal came to seize her. He had also served copies of the warrants on the parties who held the freight money, with notice that he attached it. But Judge Blatchford held that the seamen had a paramount lien for their wages upon the freight money, and that such lien was to be administered by the court of admiralty by the service of its process; that as against a lien of that character, the principle established in Taylor v. Carryl ought not to be extended; that the application of the principle of that case to an attachment issuing from a state court against a vessel only worked delay in the enforcement of a sailor's lien for wages upon her, but that the application of it to an attachment against freight money would work the entire destruction of the lien; that the possession of the freight money by the sheriff, constructive or otherwise, was not such as the possession of the vessel in Taylor v. Carryl, or such as prevented the marshal from levying his process
A similar question arose in The Caroline, 1 Lowell, 173, and it was held that it was not a good defence to a petition that freight might be brought into the admiralty court to answer the exigency of suits for mariners' wages and materials, and that the consignee, before the libels were filed, was summoned as trustee or garnishee of the ship owner in a court of common law; that the courts of common law of Massachusetts had no power to adjust maritime liens upon a fund attached under the foreign attachment law of that State, and the consequence of giving priority to such an attachment might be the destruction of the liens; that a court of common law would be bound to guard against this consequence by discharging the supposed trustee, or by waiting till the liens were adjusted; and that the District Court might proceed to adjust the liens and might order the freight to be brought in for that purpose; and Lowell, J., said: "The decision in Taylor v. Carryl, as explained in Freeman v. Howe, and in Buck v. Colbath, does not operate to defeat the paramount maritime liens, but only to delay their enforcement, because the sheriff can sell only the right of the ship owner, subject to those liens; the practical effect of which I find to be that the sheriff usually waives his possession when libels are filed for maritime liens, because his title becomes of little or no market value. So that we have come back pretty much to the practice which prevailed before the leading case was decided." The views of Judge Blatchford in respect of the attachment of credits, and thereby the destruction of maritime liens, were fully concurred in. And see Clifton v. Foster, 103 Mass. 233; Eddy v. O'Hara, 132 Mass. 56.
In The E.L. Cain, 45 Fed. Rep. 367, 370, the sheriff had
In The Elexena, 53 Fed. Rep. 359, § 2186 of the Code of Virginia, providing that the sale of a vessel forfeited by proceedings in a state court for violating the oyster laws of the State "shall vest in the purchaser a clear and absolute title," was held by Hughes, J., inoperative to divest maritime liens of innocent parties attaching before the arrest of the vessel, and that the vessel might be subsequently seized in the hands of the purchaser and subjected to such liens by proceedings in the admiralty courts.
A maritime lien is not divested by a forfeiture for a breach of municipal law; St. Jago de Cuba, 9 Wheat. 409; nor by a sale to a bona fide purchaser without notice. The Chusan, 2 Story, 455; The Bold Buccleugh, 3 W. Rob. 220; S.C. 7 Moore P.C. 267. It is jus in re; and "it has been settled so long, that we know not its beginning, that a suit in the admiralty to enforce and execute a lien, is not an action against any particular person to compel him to do or forbear anything; but a claim against all mankind; a suit in rem, asserting the claim of the libellant to the thing, as against all the world." The Young Mechanic, 2 Curtis, 404, 412. See also The Rock Island Bridge, 6 Wall. 213; The J.E. Rumbell, 148 U.S. 1.
But upon the facts disclosed in this record, was the District Court required to stay its hand until the termination of the proceedings in the state court? It is admitted that the receiver never took actual possession of the vessels, and that he did not qualify until after the marshal had taken such possession under the libels; but it is said that, as his appointment was made on July 31, before the libels were filed, when his bond was executed, approved, and filed in the office of the clerk of the court for Albany County, his title to the property related back to the time of his appointment, and that he had constructive possession as of that date, which constructive possession overreached the possession of the marshal.
Certain sections of the New York statutes (Rev. Stats. Part 3, c. 8, §§ 66, 67; Code Civ. Proc. 1891, App. 1167) provide that a receiver "before entering on the duties of his appointment shall give such security to the people of the State, and in such penalty as the court shall direct;" and "such receiver shall be vested with all the estate, real and personal, of such corporation from the time of his having filed the security hereinbefore required."
The contention is not only that the title to these vessels vested in the receiver as of July 31, and that, in such a case as this, constructive is the equivalent of actual possession, but that although the receiver did not qualify until after the seizure by the marshal, he thereupon became constructively possessed of the vessels as of July 31, and the jurisdiction of the District Court was thereby ousted. But if jurisdiction had attached, it would not be defeated even by the withdrawal of the property for the purposes of the state court, and, moreover, the doctrine of relation has no application. As between
At the time these libels were filed and the marshal seized the property, it had not been developed whether or when the receiver would or might give the security required and enter upon the discharge of his duties, and he had neither actual nor constructive possession.
The jurisdiction of the state court over the subject-matter of the winding up of the corporation and the distribution of its assets did not embrace the disposition of the claims of the libellants upon these vessels, nor were they as holders of maritime liens represented by the attorney general when he assented to the order of July 31, as mere creditors of that Schuyler Company were. The adjudication by that order may have so operated on the title in respect of the parties to that suit as to place the property constructively in the custody of the law as of that date, but not as to all persons and for all purposes. Under the circumstances we are unable to accept the conclusion that simply by the institution of the winding up proceeding, property, subject to liens over which that court could not exercise jurisdiction in invitum, was placed in such a situation in respect of liability to being ultimately
The title and the right of possession as between the receiver and the creditors of the Schuyler Company may have vested as of July 31, but this could not operate to divest a jurisdiction, not concurrent, to the exercise of which no actual impediment existed at the time it was invoked. As has been seen, maritime liens are incumbrances placed on vessels by operation of law, and neither the death nor the insolvency of the owner can divest or extinguish them or transfer jurisdiction over them to courts for the settlement of the estates of decedents or insolvents, although for the purposes merely of such settlement these are the appropriate tribunals. In the orderly administration of justice the representatives of such estates should apply to the court which alone has cognizance to ascertain and enforce these exceptional interests in the thing itself, which accompany it wherever it goes and into whosesoever hands it comes, and which cannot be displaced by the action of other courts in invitum.
The receiver accordingly properly applied to the state court for leave to contest the libels or to take such other proceedings therein as might be advisable, and was duly authorized so to do. Thereupon he made a motion in the District Court for an order directing the marshal to withdraw from the custody of the steamboats held under the admiralty process, which motion was denied on the ground that the question should be raised by answer to the libels. The receiver then appeared in one action against each vessel and filed his answer contesting the jurisdiction of the admiralty court. If the decision of that court had been adverse, he could have tested its correctness on appeal, but he seems to have been unwilling to abide the result, and to have entertained the view that while the proceedings in the District Court, to which he had become a party, were pending, he could go into
We are of opinion that the state court had no jurisdiction in personam over the libellants as holders of maritime liens when the libels were filed; that the question of jurisdiction was, as the case stood, one for the District Court to decide in the first instance; that the District Court had jurisdiction; and that the judgment under review was in effect an unlawful interference with proceedings in that court.
The judgment is reversed and the cause remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.
MR. JUSTICE BREWER, with whom concurred MR. JUSTICE WHITE, dissenting.
While I agree with nearly all that is said in the opinion, I am unable to concur in the conclusions finally reached and the judgment ordered. I agree that "it is a rule of general application that where property is in the actual possession of one court of competent jurisdiction such possession cannot be disturbed by process out of another court;" and I may say that I agree further that when a court has possession of property it may restrain the bringing of any suit in any other court to disturb that possession, and that an order for
"It is manifest, from these provisions, that when a voluntary petitioner in bankruptcy files his petition in due form, he becomes, eo instanti, a bankrupt, so far as any interference with the property named in his inventory is concerned, and that such property is thereby brought into the bankruptcy court, and placed in its custody and under its protection, as
Believing that the rule thus stated is the one to be applied in this case, I hold that, when the petition in insolvency was filed, the corporation, the owner and possessor of the property, surrendered it to the state court, and by no subsequent proceedings in any other court could that possession be disturbed.
I cannot agree that the respective jurisdiction of state and Federal courts is to be determined by a scramble between sheriff and marshal for possession.
For these reasons, while I concur in most of the reasoning of the opinion, I am constrained to dissent from the judgment.
I am authorized to say that MR. JUSTICE WHITE concurs in the foregoing views.