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THOMAS V. BOARD OF TRUSTEES, 195 U. S. 207 (1904)

U.S. Supreme Court

Thomas v. Board of Trustees, 195 U.S. 207 (1904)

Thomas v. Board of Trustees of Ohio State University

No. 43

Argued March 3, 1904

Decided November 14, 1904

195 U.S. 207


Jurisdiction of a Circuit Court of the United States must appear affirmatively from distinct allegations, or facts clearly proven, and is not to be established argumentatively or by mere inference, and when jurisdiction depends upon diverse citizenship, absence of sufficient averments, or of facts in the record, showing such diversity is fatal, and the defect cannot be waived by the parties, nor can consent confer jurisdiction.

For the purpose of suing and being sued in the circuit court of the United States, the members of a local corporation are conclusively presumed to be citizens of the state by whose law it was created and in which alone the corporate body has a legal existence.

While this Court is not conclusively bound by the judgment of the highest court of a state as to what is and is not a corporation of that state within

Page 195 U. S. 208

the jurisdictional rule, it will accept such judgment unless a contrary view is demanded by most cogent reasons.

An averment that a board of trustees of a state institution was created by and exists under the laws of a state other than that of complainant, and is a citizen of that state, without alleging that it is a corporation of the state, or that each individual member of the board is a citizen of that state, and where the highest court of the state has decided that the board, although possessing some of the attributes of a corporation, is not a corporation of such state, and held insufficient to sustain the jurisdiction of the Circuit Court on the ground of diverse citizenship.

Where a board of trustees of an institution can by the legislative act creating it, sue and be sued collectively and is bound by the judgment, a citizen of another state can sue it as such board collectively, without bringing in all the members thereof, in a circuit court of the United States, provided it affirmatively appears that each member of the board is a citizen of a state other than that of complainant.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

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