ERROR TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF WISCONSIN.
MR. JUSTICE GRAY, after stating the facts as above, delivered the opinion of the court.
By the uniform course of decision, no exceptions to rulings at a trial can be considered by this court, unless they were taken at the trial, and were also embodied in a formal bill of exceptions presented to the judge at the same term, or within a further time allowed by order entered at that term, or by standing rule of court, or by consent of parties; and, save under very extraordinary circumstances, they must be allowed by the judge and filed with the clerk during the same term. After the term has expired, without the court's control over the case being reserved by standing rule or special order, and especially after a writ of error has been entered in this court, all authority of the court below to allow a bill of exceptions then first presented, or to alter or amend a bill of exceptions already allowed and filed, is at an end. United States v. Breitling, 20 How. 252; Muller v. Ehlers, 91 U.S. 249; Jones v. Grover & Baker Co., 131 U.S. appx. 150; Hunnicutt v. Peyton, 102 U.S. 333; Davis v. Patrick, 122 U.S. 138; Chateaugay Co., Petitioner, 128 U.S. 544.
The duty of seasonably drawing up and tendering a bill of exceptions, stating distinctly the rulings complained of and the exceptions taken to them, belongs to the excepting party, and not to the court; the trial court has only to consider whether the bill tendered by the party is in due time, in legal form, and conformable to the truth; and the duty of the court of error is limited to determining the validity of exceptions duly tendered
and allowed. Hanna v. Maas, 122 U.S. 24. Any fault or omission in framing or tendering a bill of exceptions, being the act of the party and not of the court, cannot be amended at a subsequent term, as a misprision of the clerk in recording inaccurately or omitting to record an order of the court might be. In re Wight, 134 U.S. 136.
The writ of certiorari prayed for must therefore be denied, and the case must be determined upon the original bill of exceptions.
By that bill of exceptions it appears that before the last trial the defendant, by leave of court, amended its answer by adding, as a distinct defence, that "said defendant denies, upon information and belief, that at the time of the commencement of this action the said plaintiff was, or is now, a corporation created or organized under the laws of the State of Michigan, or under the laws of any other State, Territory or government; and said defendant further specifically denies, upon information and belief, that said plaintiff, at the time of the commencement of this action was, or at any time since then has been, or is now, a corporation."
Section 4199 of the Code of Wisconsin provides that "in actions by or against any corporation it shall not be necessary to prove on the trial the existence of such corporation, unless the defendant, by his answer duly verified, shall have specifically denied that the plaintiff or defendant, as the case may be, is a corporation."
The scope of this section is shown by comparing it with the general provisions of section 2655 of the same code, that the answer of the defendant must contain "a general or specific denial of each material allegation of the complaint controverted by the defendant, or of any knowledge or information thereof sufficient to form a belief." A denial of the fact that the plaintiff is a corporation must be specific and not general, and a denial of any knowledge or information thereof sufficient to form a belief is not enough. Crane Co. v. Morse, 49 Wisconsin, 368; Concordia Savings Association v. Read, 93 N.Y. 474. But an express denial that the plaintiff is a corporation is not the less specific, because made upon information
and belief; and such a denial puts in issue the existence of the corporation. The plaintiff's objection to the form of the answer cannot be sustained.
The defence in question is in terms and effect a denial that the plaintiff at or since the time of the commencement of this action was or is now a corporation. This was not merely misnomer, properly pleadable in abatement only; it was, in substance, nul tiel corporation, which is a good plea in bar, although it would have been waived by the first answer to the merits of the case, but for the leave, expressly granted by the court, to plead it afterwards. Baltimore & Potomac Railroad v. Fifth ...