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decided: November 6, 1933.



Hughes, Van Devanter, McReynolds, Brandeis, Sutherland, Butler, Stone, Roberts, Cardozo

Author: Sutherland

[ 290 U.S. Page 59]

 MR. JUSTICE SUTHERLAND delivered the opinion of the Court.

This is an action under the Idaho "claim and delivery" statute brought by petitioner in the federal district court for the district of Idaho. The complaint alleges that petitioner is a resident and inhabitant of the State of Oregon, and is the duly qualified receiver of the property which is the subject matter of the action, having been so appointed by an Oregon state circuit court; that following

[ 290 U.S. Page 60]

     his appointment and qualification, and prior to March, 1931, as such receiver he took into his possession certain designated cattle, and has ever since been entitled to the immediate and exclusive possession thereof; that about the first day of July, 1931, the respondent took possession of the cattle in the State of Idaho by virtue of a writ of attachment; that respondent has refused to return said cattle to petitioner, although demand therefor was made prior to the commencement of the action. Judgment was prayed to the effect that petitioner is the owner and entitled to the immediate possession of the cattle, and in lieu thereof that he recover from respondent the sum of $5,000.

The answer, among other things, denies that petitioner took possession of the cattle as alleged, or any of them, and avers affirmatively that respondent in his official capacity seized the cattle upon a writ of execution duly issued by an Idaho state district court.

The case was tried before the federal district court and a jury. Petitioner offered evidence tending to show that he had taken actual possession of the cattle in the State of Oregon, and that the cattle thereafter were found in Idaho and there seized by respondent. At the conclusion of petitioner's case respondent moved for non-suit and dismissal, upon the grounds, (1) that the proof shows that plaintiff had no capacity to sue in the courts of Idaho, since he had neither title to the property under the Oregon law or the order of the court appointing him, nor actual possession thereof, either in the State of Oregon or in the State of Idaho; (2) that an action of replevin will not lie in a United States court against a sheriff to take property from the possession of a state court. A third ground was urged, which we do not consider. It is without merit and is not pressed here. The court granted the motion, saying "that the proof is insufficient to initiate the liability on this hearing."

[ 290 U.S. Page 611]

     . Upon appeal to the circuit court of appeals, that court, without considering other assignments of error, affirmed the judgment upon the ground that a receiver appointed in a state court is not entitled to sue in a foreign jurisdiction to repossess cattle, which, after being put in charge of his agent, cross over the boundary line into a foreign jurisdiction. Although respondent contends otherwise, the court below reached that conclusion in the face of an assumption that actual possession of the cattle had been taken by petitioner in Oregon. The language of the court follows:

"Granting the soundness of the contention that the receiver was entitled to the undisturbed possession of the property and assuming that he actually had such possession [italics supplied], and granting or assuming that he had the power to sue locally in replevin for an unlawful interference with his right of possession, nevertheless such right of possession did not vest him with the title necessary to sue in the court below without an ancillary appointment therein; and he was not entitled to bring the suit as a matter of comity." 62 F.2d 728, 730.

Upon the same assumption, namely, that the receiver had reduced the property to his actual possession in the State of Oregon, we reach a different conclusion.

The general rule undoubtedly is that an ordinary chancery receiver, having no other authority than that arising from his appointment as such, cannot as of right maintain an action in a state other than that in which he was appointed. The decision in Booth v. Clark, 17 How. 322, to that effect has been uniformly followed by this court. See, for example, Great Western Mining Co. v. Harris, 198 U.S. 561; Sterrett v. Second National Bank, 248 U.S. 73. The very terms in which ...

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