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VENNER V. GREAT NORTHERN RY. CO., 209 U. S. 24 (1908)

U.S. Supreme Court

Venner v. Great Northern Ry. Co., 209 U.S. 24 (1908)

Venner v. Great Northern Railway Company

No. 485

Submitted January 20, 1908

Decided February 24, 1908

209 U.S. 24


Where the question of jurisdiction is certified to this Court under § 5 of the Judiciary Act of 1891, nothing but that question can be considered here. In this case, the question is considered both as to parties and subject matter.

A cause is removable to the circuit court if it is one of which the court is given jurisdiction.

While the court, in determining whether diverse citizenship exists, may disregard the pleader's arrangement of parties and align them according to actual interest, if the plaintiff's controversy is actually with all the parties named as defendants, all of whom are necessary parties, none of them can for jurisdictional purposes be regarded otherwise than as defendants, and so held in an action against a corporation and others by one of the stockholders, that, where the complaint alleges joint fraudulent conduct on the part of the corporation and the other defendants with whom it jointly resists that charge, the corporation cannot be realigned as a party plaintiff even if it might be to its financial interest to have the plaintiff prevail. Doctor v. Harrington, 196 U. S. 579.

Page 209 U. S. 25

The right to bring a suit is distinguishable from the right to prosecute the particular bill, and, where the other jurisdictional essentials exist, the circuit court has jurisdiction of an action against a corporation by one of its stockholders although the bill does not comply with Equity Rule 94 and for that reason must be dismissed. The jurisdiction of the circuit court is prescribed by laws enacted by Congress in pursuance of the Constitution, and while this Court may, by rules not inconsistent with law, regulate the manner in which that jurisdiction shall be exercised, that jurisdiction cannot by such rules be enlarged or diminished.

The facts are stated in the opinion.

Page 209 U. S. 28

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