The question upon which these cases have been brought to this court is whether the Massachusetts court gave to a New York judgment pleaded as a bar to a Massachusetts suit that full faith and credit required by the first section of Art. IV of the Constitution of the United States, and § 905, Revised Statutes, enacted in pursuance thereof.
The Old Dominion Copper and Smelting Company, hereafter designated the Copper Company, a corporation
The two sales were for distinct considerations. The bills alleged that when these sales were made the Copper Company was under the absolute control of the two promoters, Bigelow and Lewisohn, and that they divided the profits between them. The fundamental facts in each case were the same. The two cases were heard together in the state courts, and are now heard as if one case, though upon separate writs and distinct records.
Demurrers were interposed and overruled. The allegations of the bills are fully shown in 188 Massachusetts, 315, where one of the cases was considered on demurrer. Answers were then filed and a great mass of evidence taken. Upon a full hearing the allegations of the respective bills were held to be sustained by the proofs and final decrees were rendered for the plaintiff in sums aggregating $2,178,673.33. The decrees were affirmed in the Supreme Judicial Court.
The Federal question, upon which the judgment of this court is sought, arose in this wise: Bigelow, the plaintiff in error here, was a citizen of Massachusetts, and was, therefore, sued in the courts of that State. Lewisohn, who was Bigelow's associate promoter, was a citizen of New York. He was, therefore, sued separately in the Circuit Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York. The bills filed there were identical in every essential with those filed in Massachusetts. In the two sets of bills it was alleged that Bigelow and Lewisohn were joint promoters of the Copper Company, and
The final decree in one of the New York cases was pleaded in a supplemental answer in the pending Massachusetts cases as a bar to the suits against Bigelow. The Massachusetts court adjudged that Bigelow was neither a party nor a privy to the New York suits, and was, therefore, not protected by the judgment therein.
To conclude Bigelow by the New York judgment, it must appear that he was either a party or a privy. That he was not a party to the record is conceded. He had no legal right to defend or control the proceedings, nor to appeal from the decree. He was, therefore, a stranger, and was not concluded by that judgment as a party thereto. That he was indirectly interested in the result because the question there litigated was one which might affect his own liability as a judicial precedent in a subsequent suit against him upon the same cause of action is true, but the effect of a judgment against Lewisohn as a precedent is not that of res judicata; and the Massachusetts court was under no obligation to follow the decision as a mere judicial precedent. Nor would assistance in the defense of the suit, because of interest in the decision as a judicial precedent which might influence the decision in his own case, create an estoppel as to Bigelow. Stryker v. Goodnow, 123 U.S. 527. Also Rumford Chem. Works v. Hygienic Chem. Co., 215 U.S. 156.
But would that judgment, if it had been for the plaintiff in that case, have bound Bigelow in a subsequent suit by the same plaintiff upon the same facts? If not, upon what principle may he claim the advantage of it as a bar to the present suit? The cause of action was one arising ex delicto. It was several as well as joint. The right of action against both might have been extinguished by a settlement with one, or by a judgment against one, and satisfaction. But the claim has come in substance to this, that although the plaintiff had a remedy against Lewisohn and Bigelow severally or jointly, a failure to recover in an action against one is a bar to his action against the other, the facts being the same, although there has been no satisfaction for the injury done. The only basis upon which such a result can be asserted is that Bigelow would have been bound by the judgment if it had been adverse to Lewisohn, and may, therefore, shelter himself behind it since it was favorable to his joint wrongdoer.
It is a principle of general elementary law that the estoppel of a judgment must be mutual. Railroad Co. v. National Bank, 102 U.S. 14; Keokuk & W. Railroad v. Missouri, 152 U.S. 301; Freeman on Judgments, § 159; Greenleaf on Evidence, 13th ed., vol. 1, § 524. The mutuality of estoppel by judgment is fully recognized in both the New York and Massachusetts decisions: Atlantic Dock Co. v. New York, 53 N.Y. 64; Brigham v. Fayerweather, 140 Massachusetts, 411, 415; Nelson v. Brown, 144 N.Y. 384.
An apparent exception to this rule of mutuality has been held to exist where the liability of the defendant is altogether dependant upon the culpability of one exonerated in a prior suit, upon the same facts, when sued by the
The principle upon which one may avail himself of the effect of a judgment adverse to the plaintiff in a former suit, against the immediate actor, is thus stated in New Orleans & N.E.R.R. Co. v. Jopes, 142 U.S. 18, 24, 27:
"It would seem on general principles that if the party who actually causes the injury is free from all civil and criminal liability therefor, his employer must also be entitled to like immunity. . . . If the immediate actor is free from responsibility because his act was lawful, can his employer, one taking no direct part in the transaction, be held responsible? .. . The question carries its own answer; and it may be generally affirmed that if an act of an employee be lawful, and one which he is justified in doing, an which casts no personal responsibility upon him, no responsibility attaches to the employer therefor."
It is too evident to need argument that the remedy of this plaintiff does not depend upon the culpable conduct of Lewisohn, but upon Bigelow's own wrong, whether alone or in cooperation with Lewisohn. The liability of each was several as well as joint, and a failure to recover against one is no bar to a suit against the other upon the same facts. But a judgment not only estops those who were actually parties but also such persons as were represented by those who were or claim under or in privity with them.
What is privity? As used when dealing with the estoppel
But it is said that the relationship of joint tort-feasors is such as to constitute privity, and that a judgment in a suit in favor of one upon the same identical cause of action, is a bar to a suit by the same plaintiff against the other wrongdoer. Whether the estoppel of a judgment is to be confined to those who were actually parties or privies in estate or interest, or may be expanded so as to include joint tort-feasors, not actually parties, is a question concerning which there is some diversity of opinion. But, as we shall later see, the sounder reason, as well as the weight of authority, is that the failure to recover against one of two joint tort-feasors is not a bar to a suit against the other upon the same facts.
Passing this for the time, we come to a consideration of the contention that whatever the general law upon this subject, if such was the effect of such a judgment under the law of New York, it was the duty of the Massachusetts court, under the full faith and credit clause, to give it like effect in the present suit.
That the judgment in question is entitled to the same sanction which would attach to a like judgment of a court of the State of New York, is plain. The United States court was in the exercise of jurisdiction to administer the laws of the State, since its jurisdiction depended solely upon diversity of citizenship. Its judgment is, therefore, entitled in the courts of another State to the
"This can hardly be regarded as an open question in this Commonwealth. In Sprague v. Oakes, 19 Pick. 455, which was an action for trespass quare clausum fregit, it was said, respecting such a defense, `The defendant was neither a party nor privy to that judgment, was not bound by it, nor could he take advantage of it.' This case has never been overruled or questioned and must be regarded as stating the law of this Commonwealth. There are other authorities to the same point. Lansing v.
The cause of action was one arising ex delicto and the liability of Lewisohn and Bigelow was several as well as joint. In many cases this court has held that a judgment without satisfaction against one of two joint trespassers is no bar to another action against the other for the same tort. The common law imposes upon each joint tort-feasor the burden of bearing the entire loss which he, in cooperation with another, has inflicted. The injured person may sue those who cooperated in the commission of the tort together, or he may sue them singly. He may recover against less than all if he sue them jointly, and may have a judgment for unequal sums against all who are joined in the suit. Or, if he sue one such wrongdoer and recover judgment, he is not estopped from suing another upon the same facts unless his first judgment has been fully satisfied. Lovejoy v. Murray, 3 Wall. 1; Sessions v. Johnson, 95 U.S. 347, 348; The Beaconsfield, 158 U.S. 303. If Lewisohn and Bigelow were severally liable, and a judgment against one without full satisfaction was not a bar to a suit against the other, it is difficult to see why a failure to obtain a judgment against one should be an answer to a suit against the other, who was not a party to the first suit. That a failure to recover in one suit against one such tort-feasor is not a bar to a suit in the courts of another State against another, who was not a party to the first suit, seems to be supported by considerations of justice and the weight of authority.
But did the Massachusetts court deny full faith and credit to the New York judgment by denying to it the
The answer must turn upon the construction and effect of the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution, and the act of Congress giving effect thereto. Section 1, Article IV of the Constitution reads as follows:
"Full faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and Judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof."
The act of Congress of May 26, 1790 (1 Stat. 122, c. 11), now § 905, Revised Statutes, reads as follows:
"The acts of the legislature of any State or Territory, or of any country subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, shall be authenticated by having the seals of such State, Territory, or country affixed thereto. The records and judicial proceedings of the courts of any State or Territory, or of any such country, shall be proved or admitted in any other court within the United States, by the attestation of the clerk, and the seal of the court annexed, if there be a seal, together with a certificate of the judge, chief justice, or presiding magistrate, that the said attestation is in due form. And the said records and judicial proceedings, so authenticated, shall have such faith and credit given to them in every court within the United States as they have by law or usage in the courts of the State from which they are taken."
The effect of this clause is to put the judgment of a court of one State, when sued upon, or pleaded in estoppel, in the courts of another State, upon the plane of a domestic judgment in respect of conclusiveness as to the facts adjudged. But for this provision such state judgments would stand upon the footing of foreign judgments
"Judgments recovered in one State of the Union, when proved in the courts of another, differ from judgments recovered in a foreign country in no other respect than that of not being reexaminable upon the merits, nor impeachable for fraud in obtaining them, if rendered by a court having jurisdiction of the cause and of the parties." Citing Buckner v. Finley, 2 Pet. 592; M'Elmoyle v. Cohen, 13 Pet. 312, 324; D'Arcy v. Ketchum, 11 How. 165, 176; Christmas v. Russell, 5 Wall. 290, 305; Thompson v. Whitman, 18 Wall. 457.
The requirement of full faith and credit is to be read and interpreted in the light of well-established principles of justice protected by other constitutional provisions which it was never intended to modify or override.
It is therefore well settled that the courts of one State are not required to regard as conclusive any judgment of the court of another State which had no jurisdiction of the subject or of the parties. D'Arcy v. Ketchum, 11 How. 165; Board of Public Works v. Columbia College, 17 Wall. 521, 528; Thompson v. Whitman, 18 Wall. 457; Hanley v. Donoghue, 116 U.S. 1, 4; Huntington v. Attrill, 146 U.S. 657, 685; Hall v. Lanning, 91 U.S. 160.
Mr. Justice Story, in his commentaries on the Conflict of Laws, § 609, says:
"It (the Constitution) did not make the judgments of other states domestic judgments to all intents and purposes, but only gave a general validity, faith, and credit to them as evidence. No execution can issue upon such judgments without a new suit in the tribunals of other states. And they enjoy not the right of priority, or privilege, or lien which they have in the state where they are pronounced, but that only which the lex fori gives to
The general effect of a judgment of a court of one State when relied upon as an estoppel in the courts of another State is that which it has, by law or usage, in the courts of the State from which it comes. But the faith and credit to be accorded does not preclude an inquiry into the jurisdiction of the court which pronounced the judgment, or its right to bind the persons against whom the judgment is sought to be enforced.
Referring to the case of Mills v. Duryee, 7 Cranch, 481, where the language used was supposed to indicate that the effect to be given to the judgment of one State by the courts of another was in all respects that which attached to domestic judgment, Mr. Justice Bradley, speaking for this court in Thompson v. Whitman, 18 Wall. 457, 462, said that Mills v. Duryee had never been departed from "where the questions were not questions of jurisdiction. But where the jurisdiction of the court which rendered the judgment has been assailed, quite a different view has prevailed. Justice Story, who pronounced the judgment in Mills v. Duryee, in his Commentary on the Constitution, after stating the general doctrine established by that case with regard to the conclusive effect of judgments of one State in every other State, adds: `But this does not prevent an inquiry into the jurisdiction of the court in which the original judgment was given, to pronounce it; or the right of the State itself to exercise authority over the person or the subject-matter. The Constitution did not mean to confer (upon the States) a new power or jurisdiction, but simply to regulate the effect of the acknowledged jurisdiction over persons and things within their territory.'"
The conclusiveness of the judgment relied upon in Thompson v. Whitman depended upon the locality of a certain seizure by the authorities of New Jersey under an act regulating the fisheries of that State. The question
Bigelow was a citizen of and domiciled in Massachusetts. He was not found within the State of New York. Indeed, the pleadings in the New York court stated that he was not sued because he did not reside within the State. A judgment rendered upon constructive service against one domiciled within the State may be a good judgment in personam in the State, though void when sued upon outside the State. Pennoyer v. Neff, 95 U.S. 714. In Goldey v. Morning News, 156 U.S. 518, 521, it is said:
"It is an elementary principle of jurisprudence, that a court of justice cannot acquire jurisdiction over the person of one who has no residence within its territorial jurisdiction, except by actual service of notice within the jurisdiction upon him or upon some one authorized to accept service in his behalf, or by his waiver, by general appearance
See also the thorough discussion of this question in Haddock v. Haddock, 201 U.S. 562, 567, 573.
The New York court had no jurisdiction to render a judgment in personam against Bigelow. He was confessedly not a party. He did not voluntarily appear. He had no legal right to appear, no right to introduce evidence, control the proceedings, nor appeal from the judgment. To say that nevertheless the judgment rendered there adverse to the plaintiff in that case may be pleaded by him as a bar to another suit by the same plaintiff upon the same facts, because such is the effect of that judgment by the usage or law of New York, would be to give to the law of New York an extra-territorial effect, which would operate as a denial of due process of law. Whatever the effect of that judgment as an estoppel under the law of New York, it cannot be held an estoppel in a suit in the courts of another State between the same plaintiff and a different defendant who was not a party to the first suit. D'Arcy v. Ketchum, 11 How. 165, is clearly in point. Under a New York statute a court of that State entered judgment against a non-resident defendant who was not served and did not appear. The judgment was entered under authority of a statute permitting judgment against joint debtors where only one was notified. The non-resident defendant was sued upon this judgment perfectly good under the decisions of New York, in the courts of Louisiana. This court, after full consideration, held that the jurisdiction of the New York court to render a personal judgment against a non-resident was open to inquiry, and that it was not to be given the effect it plainly had under the law of New York, because that court had no jurisdiction over the person of the defendant. This
"It is sufficient for the disposition of this case that the judgment is not evidence of any personal liability of Withers outside of New York. It was rendered in that State without service of process upon him, or his appearance in the action. Personal judgments thus rendered have no operation out of the limits of the State where rendered. Their effects are merely local. Out of the State they are nullities, not binding upon the non-resident defendant, nor establishing any claim against him. Such is the settled law of this country, asserted in repeated adjudications of this court and of the state courts."
"The judgment in New York, it is true, is a joint judgment against all of the partners, against those summoned by publication as well as those who were served with process or appeared, but this joint character cannot affect the question of its validity as respects those not served. The clause of the Federal Constitution which requires full faith and credit to be given in each other State to the records and judicial proceedings of every other State, applies to the records and proceedings of courts only so far as they have jurisdiction. Wherever they want jurisdiction the records are not entitled to credit."
Hall v. Lanning, 91 U.S. 160, was an action in a United States court for the District of Illinois upon a New York judgment against a New York partnership. It appeared that the suit in which the judgment sued upon was obtained was against all of the members of a firm upon a joint liability. The members of the partnership who were residents and were actually served assumed the right to
From these cases it is clear that the conclusive effect of a judgment in personam which is to be recognized when questioned in the courts of another State depends upon whether it is the judgment of a court which had jurisdiction over the person of the defendant sought to be bound. The estoppel here insisted upon is grounded not upon actual notice or appearance, but upon a theory as to the relation between joint tort-feasors under the laws of New York. If the Massachusetts court was of opinion that under the general law that relationship was not such as to make Bigelow a party by either privity or representation, it was under no obligation to treat the New York judgment as a bar to the suit in which it was pleaded.
In Bagley v. General Fire Extinguisher Co., 212 U.S. 477, 480, the facts were these: A tenant recovered judgment against his landlord resulting from the melting of sprinkler heads in an automatic sprinkler put up in plaintiff's building by the defendant. The plaintiff gave the defendant notice to defend, which it ignored. The suit was to recover the money so paid by the landlord. It was claimed that negligence in construction was made out by the judgment rendered against the plaintiff in favor of the tenant in a court of the State of Michigan. That judgment was relied upon as estopping the defendant, who it was claimed had notice, and was, under its contract, bound to defend. The court said:
"The defendant was no party to that judgment, and there is nothing in the Constitution to give it any force as against strangers. If the judgment binds the defendant it is not by its own operation, even with the Constitution behind it, but by an estoppel arising out of the defendant's contract with the plaintiff and the notice to defend. The ground of decision in both courts below was that there was no such estoppel, the duty and responsibility of the defendant being limited by the words that we have quoted from the contract, excluding any obligation other than those set forth. The decision, in other words, turned wholly on the construction of the contract as excluding a liability over in the event that happened. Even if wrong,
In support of the contention that the full faith and credit clause gives to this judgment the effect, as an estoppel, which would be given to it in New York, counsel have cited the case of Hancock Nat. Bk. v. Farnum, 176 U.S. 640, 643, where it is said that the "local effect must be recognized everywhere." But that was said in respect of a Kansas judgment in favor of a creditor of a Kansas corporation, in a suit by the creditor in another State against a stockholder of the Kansas corporation to subject him to liability as a shareholder to an amount equal to his stock. But under the law of Kansas and the general law a stockholder is represented by the corporation in all actions against the corporation for corporate liabilities. The stockholder is by the very law of corporate existence an integral part of the corporation, and is bound by a judgment against it in respect of any matter within the scope of corporate powers. See Glenn v. Liggett, 135 U.S. 533; Great Western Telegraph Co. v. Purdy, 162 U.S. 329, 336. In the Farnum Case, as in all cases of that class, there is a privity in interest and a representation in law of the stockholder by the corporation of which he is a member. The conclusiveness of such a judgment as binding each stockholder does not, however, extend to matters in which the corporation cannot be said to represent him. Thus it is said in the Farnum Case:
"We do not mean that it is conclusive as against any individual sued as a stockholder that he is one, or if one, that he has not already discharged by payment to some other creditor of the corporation the full measure of his liability, or that he has not claims against the corporation, or judgments against it, which he may, in law or equity,
There is no parallel between the relation of joint tort-feasors and that of a stockholder to his corporation. In the latter case, the stockholder, by the organic law of his corporation, is a member and represented by it so long as it keeps within its corporate powers. In the other instance one wrongdoer when sued does not represent those not sued, although they had cooperated in the wrong and were both liable.
The conclusion we reach is that the Massachusetts court did not deny full faith and credit to the New York judgment, and its decrees are therefore
MR. JUSTICE HUGHES took no part in the hearing or consideration of these cases.