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Louisville & Nashville R. Co. v. Western Union Tel. Co., 234 U.S. 369 (1914)

Louisville & Nashville Railroad Company

v. Western Union Telegraph Company

No. 337

Argued March 20, 1914

Decided June 8, 1914

234 U.S. 369


On a direct appeal under § 238, Judicial Code, from a judgment of the district court dismissing the bill for want of jurisdiction on the ground that neither of the parties was a resident of that district and that the suit was one that could only be brought in a district in which

Page 234 U. S. 370

one of the parties resided, this Court is only concerned with the jurisdiction of the district court as a federal court; whether appellant is entitled to the relief sought is not a jurisdictional question in the sense of § 238.

When the matter in controversy is of the requisite value and diverse citizenship exists, the question is simply whether the case is cognizable in the particular district court in which the case is brought.

Section 57, Judicial Code, makes suits to remove any encumbrance, lien, or cloud upon title to real or personal property cognizable by the district court of the district in which the property is situated regardless of residence of the parties and process for service of the nonresident defendants by notification outside of the district or by publication.

The provision in § 57, Judicial Code, respecting suits to remove clouds from title embraces a suit to remove a cloud cast upon the title by a deed or instrument which is void upon its face when such suit is founded upon a remedial statute of the state, as well as when resting upon established usages and practice of equity.

As construed by the highest court of Mississippi, § 975, Rev.Code of 1871 of that state, entitles the rightful owner of real property in that state to maintain a suit to dispel a cloud cast upon the title thereto by an invalid deed, even though, under applicable principles of equity, it be void on its face.

In Mississippi, as declared by its highest court, the judgment of a special court of eminent domain may be challenged by a bill in equity upon the ground that the condemnation is not for a public purpose, and if other elements of federal jurisdiction are present, the case is one to remove cloud upon title and, under § 57, Judicial Code, the case is cognizable in the district court of the district in which the property is situated, although neither of the parties reside therein.

The facts, which involve the jurisdiction of the district courts of the United States under § 57, Judicial Code, are stated in the opinion.

Page 234 U. S. 371

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