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TORRENCE V. SHEDD, 144 U. S. 527 (1892)

U.S. Supreme Court

Torrence v. Shedd, 144 U.S. 527 (1892)

Torrence v. Shedd

No. 244

Argued March 25, 1892

Decided April 11, 1892.

144 U.S. 527


A suit in a state court for partition of land cannot be removed into the circuit court of the United States under the Act of March 3, 1875, c. 137, § 2, by reason of a controversy between the plaintiff and a citizen of another state, intervening and claiming whatever may be set off to the plaintiff.

When, on appeal from a decree of the circuit court of the United States upon the merits, it appears that the case had been wrongfully removed from a state court on petition of the appellant, the decree should be reversed for want of jurisdiction and the case remanded to the circuit court with directions to remand it to the state court, and with costs against him in this Court and in the circuit court.

This was a bill in equity, filed August 29, 1881, in the Superior Court of Cook County, in the State of Illinois, by Joseph T. Torrence against Susan M. Shedd, John B. Brown, and ninety others, for partition of a tract of land in that county, to an undivided third of which the plaintiff claimed title under a deed from Edward Sorin. Brown and twenty

Page 144 U. S. 528

others were not served with process. Most of the other defendants appeared and answered, denying the plaintiff's title and claiming title in themselves to the whole in separate shares.

A decree of the superior court dismissing the bill was reversed on appeal by the Supreme Court of Illinois, and the case remanded to the superior court for further proceedings. 112 Ill. 466.

Afterwards, on May 5, 1885, Sorin was allowed, against the plaintiff's objection, to intervene and to file an answer and cross-bill admitting his deed to the plaintiff but alleging that it was only in trust for Sorin, and that the plaintiff, in violation of the trust, had refused to reconvey the land to Sorin, and had agreed to convey it to Brown, and claiming an equitable title in whatever should be set off to the plaintiff. The plaintiff and Brown demurred to the cross-bill, and others of the defendants answered that bill, alleging that they were strangers to the controversy between the plaintiff and Sorin and denying the title of both.

On May 18, 1885, the plaintiff and Brown filed a petition under the Act of March 3, 1875, c. 137, § 2, for the removal of the case into the circuit court of the United States, alleging that by reason of Sorin's intervention and appearance, answer, and cross-bill, a separate controversy was presented between citizens of different states, which could be fully determined as between them in that court, and in which the matter in dispute exceeded $500 in value, and that at the time of filing the petition for removal, and for five years before, the petitioners were citizens of Illinois, and Sorin was a citizen of Indiana, and none of the other defendants was a citizen of Indiana or had any interest in this controversy.

The case was thereupon removed into the circuit court of the United States, which sustained the demurrer to Sorin's cross-bill and dismissed that bill and referred the case to a master, who filed his report on July 3, 1886.

On December 2, 1886, the plaintiff filed a stipulation between himself and Brown and Sorin, which was as follows:

"It is hereby stipulated between Joseph T. Torrence, complainant, and John B. Brown, one of the defendants, and

Page 144 U. S. 529

Edward Sorin, also a defendant in the above-entitled cause, that said Edward Sorin is entitled to a lien to the extent of $400 per acre upon each and every acre of land which said complainant, Torrence, may recover in the above-entitled cause, and in any decree which may be entered therein the court many recognize and declare and make all necessary orders to enforce such lien. And the said defendant Edward Sorin withdraws all allegations contained in his answer in said cause filed, and all claim that the conveyance made by said Sorin to said Torrence, in said answer mentioned, was executed to convey the said title to said Torrence to be held by him in trust for said Sorin, and not as an absolute conveyance of said land, and further, he withdraws and renounces any and all claims against and upon said land other than for a lien to secure the purchase money of four hundred dollars per acre for the amount of land which may be recovered by said Torrence."

On the same day, the plaintiff filed a motion to remand the cause to the state court on the ground that

"by reason of said stipulation, there no longer exists in the said cause any controversy, separable or otherwise, as between the said complainant and said Edward Sorin, cross-complainant therein and defendant to the said original bill, and that by reason thereof, this Court can no longer have any jurisdiction of said cause."

The circuit court denied the motion to remand and, after a hearing on pleadings and proofs, entered a final decree dismissing the bill. The plaintiff appealed to this Court.

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