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PRINCESS LIDA V. THOMPSON, 305 U. S. 456 (1939)

U.S. Supreme Court

Princess Lida v. Thompson, 305 U.S. 456 (1939)

Princess Lida of Thurn & Taxis v. Thompson

No. 118

Argued November 17, 18, 1938

Decided January 3, 1939

305 U.S. 456


1. The jurisdiction of the Court of Common Pleas of the State of Pennsylvania under a bill to compel specific performance of an agreement inter partes creating a trust ceased when the court's decree requiring such performance was complied with and satisfied. P. 305 U. S. 461.

2. Two surviving trustees of a voluntary trust filed an account, for themselves and for a deceased trustee, in a Court of Common Pleas of Pennsylvania. Thereafter, two of the five cestuis que trustent sued the surviving trustees and the administrator of the deceased one, in a federal court in Pennsylvania, charging mismanagement and praying for an accounting and restitution, for removal of the defendant trustees, and that all trustees under the agreement be required to give bond, and for general relief. One of the other beneficiaries appeared in the Common Pleas proceeding and excepted to the trustees' account.


(1) That, under Pennsylvania statutes, the state court, upon the filing of the account, gained jurisdiction over the trust quasi in rem. Shelby v. Bacon, 10 How. 56, limited. P. 305 U. S. 462.

(2) That the federal court was without jurisdiction in the suit before it, involving as it did control of the trust res and administration, already within the exclusive jurisdiction of the state court, and was without power to enjoin parties from prosecuting the state proceeding. P. 305 U. S. 465.

(3) That the state court properly enjoined parties from further proceeding in the federal court. P. 305 U. S. 467.

3. Where the judgment sought is strictly in personam, both the state court and the federal court, having concurrent jurisdiction, may proceed with the litigation at least until judgment is obtained in one of them which may be set up as res judicata in the other. P. 305 U. S. 466.

4. But if the two suits are in rem, or quasi in rem, so that the court, or its officer, has possession or must have control of the property which is the subject of the litigation in order to proceed with the cause and grant the relief sought, the jurisdiction of the one court must yield to that of the other. Id.

Page 305 U. S. 457

The principle applicable to both federal and state courts that the court first assuming jurisdiction over property may maintain and exercise that jurisdiction to the exclusion of the other is not restricted to cases where property has been actually seized under judicial process before a second suit is instituted, but applies as well where suits are brought to marshal assets, administer trusts, or liquidate estates, and in suits of a similar nature where, to give effect to its jurisdiction, the court must control the property. Id.

An action in the federal court to establish the validity or the amount of a claim in respect of a trust constitutes no interference with the state court's possession or control of a res. Id.

329 Pa. 497, 198 A. 58, affirmed.

Certiorari, post, p. 582, to review a decree which affirmed an order of a Court of Common Pleas of Pennsylvania enjoining the petitioners here from prosecuting a suit in a federal court.

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