MR. JUSTICE MINTON delivered the opinion of the Court.
The petitioner, a Delaware corporation, owns and operates its railroad through Pottawattamie County, Iowa. It was authorized by the Interstate Commerce Commission to improve its line of railway in that county and by the Iowa State Commerce Commission to acquire by condemnation any land necessary for the improvement.
On January 18, 1952, pursuant to the Iowa Code,
On March 6, 1952, the petitioner filed with the sheriff of the county a notice of appeal from the commission's award. The Iowa Code provides for appeal as follows:
The petitioner also filed an appeal from this assessment in the state court, the District Court for Pottawattamie County. The case was docketed there with the landowner as the plaintiff and the petitioner-condemnor as defendant, as required by the Iowa Code. Thereafter, a petition to remove the cause to the federal court was filed by the petitioner. The respondents filed in the Federal District Court a motion to dismiss the complaint filed therein and a motion to remand the case removed from the state court.
The federal court granted the motion to dismiss and dismissed the complaint but denied the motion to remand. The petitioner appealed from the judgment dismissing its complaint. The respondents gave notice of appeal from the order of the District Court denying the motion to remand. The Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court's judgment dismissing the complaint and
The Order Denying the Motion to Remand. Obviously, such an order is not final and appealable if standing alone. Reed v. Lehman, 91 F.2d 919; Miller v. Pyrites Co., 71 F.2d 804. While these two cases were separate actions pending on the docket of the Federal District Court, they both involve the same subject and they were treated by the parties, the District Court and the Court of Appeals as if the dismissal appealed from and the order in the removal case were made in one case. Treating them as one case, the cross-error, challenging the order denying the motion to remand, may be considered as assigned in a case involving an appealable order, the order dismissing the complaint and the action. This is true despite the fact that the order denying the motion to remand standing alone would not be appealable. Deckert v. Independence Shares Corp., 311 U.S. 282, 287.
We come therefore to the merits of the motion to remand. The question on this motion is whether the petitioner was a defendant nonresident of Iowa and therefore authorized to remove to the Federal District Court as provided by statute, 28 U. S. C. § 1441 (a).
The proceeding before the sheriff is administrative until the appeal has been taken to the district court of the county. Then the proceeding becomes a civil action pending before "those exercising judicial functions" for the purpose of reviewing the question of damages. Myers v. Chicago & N. W. R. Co., 118 Iowa 312, 315-316, 91 N. W. 1076, 1078. When the proceeding has reached the stage of a perfected appeal and the jurisdiction of the state district court is invoked, it then becomes in its nature a civil action and subject to removal by the
Is the petitioner such a defendant? The petitioner contends it is because the Code of Iowa, § 472.21, provides that on appeal, the case shall be docketed in the district court with the landowner as the plaintiff and the condemnor as the defendant and thereafter tried as in an original proceeding. The Supreme Court of Iowa has construed this statute to mean that in such proceedings on appeal, the condemnor is the defendant. Myers v. Chicago & N. W. R. Co., supra, at 324, 91 N. W., at 1081. This Court was urged in Mason City R. Co. v. Boynton, 204 U.S. 570, to follow that construction put upon this identical provision of the Iowa statute by the Supreme Court of Iowa. This Court declined to do so, saying:
For the purpose of removal, the federal law determines who is plaintiff and who is defendant. It is a question of the construction of the federal statute on removal, and not the state statute. The latter's procedural provisions cannot control the privilege of removal granted by the federal statute. Shamrock Oil Corp. v. Sheets, 313 U.S. 100, 104. Here the railroad is the plaintiff under 28 U. S. C. § 1441 (a) and cannot remove. The remand was proper.
The Motion to Dismiss. We think it was properly granted, and the original complaint in the Federal District Court correctly dismissed. The steps taken by the petitioner were those to perfect an appeal to the Federal District Court. The notice said it was the intention of the petitioner to docket the appeal in the federal court. The transcript on appeal was filed in the federal court, and the complaint filed sought a review of the commission's assessment of damages. The proceeding makes no sense on any other basis, for the action is brought not by the person injured, namely, the landowner, but by the railroad that inflicted the damage. It will be noticed further that there is no prayer for damages but only for
The petitioner, after giving notice of appeal by filing notice with the sheriff, etc., could not perfect that appeal to any court but the court which the statute of Iowa directed, which was the District Court of that State for the County of Pottawattamie. The United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa does not sit to review on appeal action taken administratively or judicially in a state proceeding. A state "legislature may not make a federal district court, a court of original jurisdiction, into an appellate tribunal or otherwise expand its jurisdiction . . . ." Burford v. Sun Oil Co., 319 U.S. 315, 317. The Iowa Code does not purport to authorize such an appeal, Congress has provided none by statute, and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure make no such provision.
We cannot ignore this plain attempt to appeal and treat the complaint as initiating an original action, as if the parties had agreed that the petitioner could take the land, leaving only a controversy as to the amount of compensation. In that instance, there would be an implied agreement that the petitioner would pay the landowner the fair value of the land. Either party might in that posture of the case ask for a declaration as to the amount of compensation owing. The claim for damages would arise in that case from the substantive rights given by the implied contract, and the suit would be one to enforce that contract. We have no such case here. The right to take the land and the ensuing right to damages here spring from the exercise of the power of eminent domain. The petitioner here seems to ignore the means by which it obtained the land and seeks to review only
The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do have elaborate provisions for procedure in the federal court in condemnation proceedings. It is obvious that the petitioner was not proceeding under these Rules. Whether it could so proceed as an original action in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa is not before us.
The judgment is
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON concurs in the result.
MR. JUSTICE BLACK, dissenting.
I think the railroad has a right to have its case tried in the United States District Court. Congress has given such courts power to try any case that is (1) a "civil" action, (2) between "Citizens of different States," (3) a "controversy," and (4) involves a matter which "exceeds the sum or value of $3,000 exclusive of interest and costs."
MR. JUSTICE FRANKFURTER, dissenting.
Stripped of irrelevant and beclouding elements, this is a suit brought in a federal court for the ascertainment of the value of land, acquired by eminent domain under the prescribed Iowa procedure.
If the Rock Island had decided to initiate this suit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa, as it was unquestionably entitled to do since there was diversity of citizenship, Madisonville Traction Co. v. Mining Co., 196 U.S. 239, the procedure defined by the Iowa Code would, under Rule 71A (k) of the Rules of Civil Procedure, have had to be followed. For that Rule provides that in an eminent domain proceeding the state procedure for determination of the value of the condemned land by a jury or commission, or both, must be followed.
Once the sheriff's commissioners had found the value of the land, there came into operation the Iowa law authorizing
Looked at from another aspect, this case may be seen simply as a suit for a declaration of money owed, satisfying the requirements of diversity jurisdiction. "The point in issue," in the language of Boom Co. v. Patterson, 98 U.S. 403, 407, is "the compensation to be made to the owner of the land; in other words, the value of the property taken. No other question was open to contestation in the District Court." As is spelled out in MR. JUSTICE BLACK'S opinion, with which I substantially agree, this case presents a dispute over some $13,000—only that and nothing more—and as such is within the scope of 28 U. S. C. § 1332.
"472.3 Application for condemnation. Such proceedings shall be instituted by a written application filed with the sheriff of the county in which the land sought to be condemned is located. . . .
"472.4 Commission to assess damages. The sheriff shall thereupon, except as otherwise provided, appoint six resident freeholders of his county, none of whom shall be interested in the same or a like question, who shall constitute a commission to assess the damages to all real estate desired by the applicant and located in the county." Code of Iowa, 1950.