« ÎnapoiContinuă »
Opinion of the Court.
commenced in a Federal court on the ground of diverse citizenship.
It should be observed that, while it is true that Montana and Washington were in a territorial condition when this suit was brought, they both had become States, the former on the 8th, the latter on the 11th, of November, 1889, 26 Stat. 1551, 1553, before the filing of the petition for removal.
A similar question was presented in Koenigsberger v. Richmond Silver Mining Company, 158 U. S. 41. That was a case where, at the time of the bringing of the action in a District Court of the Territory of Dakota, the plaintiff was a citizen of such Territory, and, when the Territory became a State.under a statute in terms precisely similar to those of the statute we are now considering, the cause was transferred to the Circuit Court of the United States, and it was there contended, as it is here, that the Circuit Court could not acquire jurisdiction of the case by reason of the diversity of citizenship between the parties, because at the time of the commencement of the case the plaintiff was a citizen of a Territory. The subject was carefully considered and the conclusion reached was thus expressed in the language of Mr. Justice Gray:
'Upon the whole matter, the reasonable conclusion appears to us to be that Congress, by the description 'whereof the Circuit or District Courts by this act established might have had jurisdiction under the laws of the United States, had such courts existed at the time of the commencement of such cases,' intended to designate cases of which those courts might have had jurisdiction under the laws of the United States, had those courts, like the other Circuit and District Courts of the United States generally, existed, at the time in question, in a State of the Union, whose inhabitants consequently were citizens of that State. According to that hypothesis, the plaintiff would have been a citizen of the State of South Dakota, and the defendant a citizen of the State of New York, at the time of the commencement of the action, and the Circuit Court of the United States would have had jurisdiction by reason of such diversity of citizenship. The case was, therefore, rightly
Opinion of the Court.
transferred, at the written request of the defendant, upon the admission of the State of South Dakota into the Union, to the Circuit Court of the United States."
This view sufficiently disposes of the objection made in this. case to the jurisdiction of the Circuit Court of the United States, so far as that jurisdiction depended on adverse citizenship.
The Circuit Court of Appeals maintained the jurisdiction of the Circuit Court, on the ground that there was a Federal question involved in the fact that the Northern Pacific Railroad Company, a corporation created by the laws of the United States, was a party to the action. We agree with that court in regarding such a fact as conferring jurisdiction on the Circuit Court. But it is urged that the fact did not exist that the Northern Pacific Railroad was not a party to the action. This contention is, we think, disposed of by the record itself. That discloses that the original suit was brought against the Northern Pacific Railroad Company as well as against the Coeur d'Alene Railway and Navigation Company; that the summons included both of said defendants; that the complaint alleged that the Northern Pacific Railroad Company was in actual possession of the premises in dispute as a tenant of the Cœur d'Alene Railway and Navigation Company. The return of the summons alleged that service had been made upon both defendants. The petition for the removal or transfer of the case was joined in by the Northern Pacific Railroad Company, and in that petition it was not alleged that the latter company objected to the summons, or for any reason, to the jurisdiction of the court, but alleged that the controversy was between citizens of different States, and that the suit was of a civil nature arising under the laws of the United States.
Upon the face of the record as it existed at the time of the removal, consisting of the writ, the return of service, the complaint, and the petition for such removal, it was, therefore, plain that the Northern Pacific Railroad Company, as a corporation created by the laws of the United States, was a party both nominally and actively. It is true that the subsequent
Opinion of the Court.
record discloses that the Circuit Court, in rendering its opinion and judgment, speaks of the Northern Pacific Railroad Company as not having been served and as not appearing in the action. But, as was well said by the Circuit Court of Appeals, when dealing with this contention, "it cannot be said that the Northern Pacific Railroad Company was not an actual party to the litigation. It was not only made a party, but it was a proper party. It was the party in possession of the premises sought to be recovered by the action of ejectment. At the time when the cause was removed the return of service was on file, but no default had been taken against the Northern Pacific Railroad Company, and no disposition had been made of the plaintiff's controversy against it; that defendant, in presenting its petition for removal to the Circuit Court, declared itself to be one of the defendants to the case, and recited the fact that the cause was pending in the state court, and was properly within the jurisdiction of the Circuit Court of the United States."
Whatever reason, therefore, the Circuit Court may have had for speaking of the Northern Pacific Railroad Company as a party not served and not appearing, it is incontrovertible, as against the record, that it was served, and whether served or not, it entered a general appearance by joining in the petition for removal. That it may have subsequently ceased to take an active part in the case is immaterial. The jurisdictional question must be determined by the record at the time of the transfer of the case.
Whether conflicting claims of railroad companies, under the right-of-way act of Congress, March 3, 1875, would give a Circuit Court of the United States jurisdiction independently of citizenship, under the doctrine of Doolan v. Carr, 125 U. S. 618, 620, we do not find it necessary to consider.
If, then, the case fell within the jurisdiction of the Circuit Court, we have next to inquire whether that jurisdiction was properly exercised.
The controversy was between two railroad companies, one organized under the laws of Washington Territory, the other organized under the laws of Montana Territory, and was as
Opinion of the Court.
to the right of possession of a tract of land situated in Shoshone County, in the Territory of Idaho, and over which each company claimed a right of way under the act of March 3, 1875, c. 152, 18 Stat. 482, entitled "An act granting to railroads the right of way through the public lands of the United States." This act provides that "the right of way through the public lands of the United States is hereby granted to any railroad company duly organized under the laws of any State or Territory which shall have filed with the Secretary of the Interior a copy of its articles of incorporation and due proofs of its organization under the same, to the extent of one hundred feet on each side of the central line of said road."
It was affirmatively found by the Circuit Court that the Cœur d'Alene Railway and Navigation Company, on the 6th day of July, 1886, filed its articles of incorporation in the office of the secretary of the Territory of Montana, and also filed in the office of the county clerk and recorder of the county of Lewis and Clarke, in said Territory, a certified copy of its said articles of incorporation; that the line of route of the railroad of the said company, as described in said articles of incorporation, passed over and included the land in controversy; that on the 20th day of July, 1886, the said company filed in the office of the Secretary of the Interior at Washington, D. C., a certified copy of its articles of incorporation and proofs of its organization under the laws of the Territory of Montana, which certified copy of articles of incorporation and proofs of organization were duly approved on that day by the Secretary of the Interior; that in the summer and fall of 1886 the said company constructed its railroad over said line of railroad, as described in said articles of incorporation, from the Old Mission up the main Coeur d'Alene River to the town of Kingston, and thence up the South Fork of the Coeur d'Alene River to the town of Wardner Junction, a distance of about fourteen miles; that in the month of October, 1886, the said company, for the purpose of extending its line of railroad, caused a survey to be made for its said line of railroad from said Wardner Junction up the said fork of the Coeur d'Alene River, over the
Opinion of the Court.
line described in its said articles of incorporation, through the towns of Wallace and Mullen, and marked the centre line of said road upon the ground by planting stakes at each station at one hundred feet, and at such other points as there were angles in the line, so that the line of route of said road could be readily traced upon the ground; that the said surveying and marking of said line was completed on the 31st day of October, 1886; that in making said survey the engineers of said company ran three lines through said town of Wallace, called lines "A," "B," and "C" the two former being on the south and line "C" being on the north side of said river, the latter being the line upon which the railroad of said company was afterwards constructed, and upon the ground in controversy in this action; that in the summer and fall of 1887 the said company extended its road from the town of Wardner Junction over its line of survey, a point about one mile east of the town of Wallace, and over said line "C," the ground in controversy, through the town of Wallace, and at all times thereafter, up to and at the time of the commencement of this action, occupied and used the same as a railroad and for railroad purposes, and at the time of the commencement of this action had its roadbed, track, side tracks and depot thereon, and was using the same exclusively for railroad purposes; and that at all times above mentioned the lands in controversy, and all other lands along the line of said railroad of the Coeur d'Alene Railway and Navigation Company, as described in its articles of incorporation, were unsurveyed public lands of the United States.
If these facts stood unaffected by other evidence, the title of the Coeur d'Alene Railway and Navigation Company to the land in controversy would be clear.
It was, however, shown that on the 9th day of November, 1886, ten days after the completion of the survey of the three lines " A," "B," and "C," the said company filed in the United States land office at Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, a map or profile which was, December 3, 1886, approved by the Secretary of the Interior, and that on this map the line "B" through the town of Wallace was platted as the line of the said railroad.