COLVIN v. CITY OF JACKSONVILLE(1895)
By the act of congress entitled 'An act to change the boundaries of the judicial districts of the state of Florida,' approved July 23, 1894 ( 28 Stat. 117, c. 149), the county of Duval, in which the city of Jacksonville is situated, was detached from the Northern district of the state, and attached to the Southern district thereof.
The bill was dismissed by the circuit court, December 4, 1894, for want of jurisdiction, and an appeal prayed and allowed to this court; and, being docketed, the case was dismissed April 1, 1895, because of the absence of a certificate of the circuit court, in accordance with section 5 of the judiciary act of March 3, 1891. Colvin v. City of Jacksonville, 157 U.S. 368 , 15 Sup. Ct. 634. Thereupon, plaintiff prayed a second appeal, which was allowed, and a certificate on the question of jurisdiction to this court signed, April 11, 1895; and the cause, having been again docketed, was submitted as under the thirty-second rule.
H. Bisbee, for appellant.
A. W. Cockrell and J. C. Cooper, for appellees.
Mr. Chief Justice FULLER, after stating the facts in the foregoing language, delivered the opinion of the court.
We are of opinion that where the jurisdiction of the court below is in issue, and the case is certified to us for decision, the certificate must be granted during the term at which the judgment or decree is entered, by analogy to the statutory provisions on that subject which obtained in relation to certificates [158 U.S. 456, 458] of division of opinion,-Rev. St. 650-452, 693, 697 (Maynard v. Hecht, 151 U.S. 324 , 14 Sup. Ct. 353),-and in view of the general rule as to the inability of the court to deal with matters of this sort after the expiration of the term (Hickman v. City of Ft. Scott, 141 U.S. 415 , 12 Sup. Ct. 9; Morse v. Anderson, 150 U.S. 156 , 14 Sup. Ct. 43).
But we assume, though it is somewhat obscure, that the term was still open when this certificate was signed. The certificate is as follows:
We are confined, in the disposition of the case, to the certificate, from which it appears that the case was heard upon a motion for an injunction and for the appointment of a receiver, on the bill and amended bill, answer, and affidavits; and that the court found, as matter of fact, that the entire amount of taxes which complainant would be obliged to pay, as interest and sinking fund, on account of the proposed issue of bonds, would not exceed $2,000, and thereupon dismissed the bill, for want of jurisdiction. It was contended by complainant that the amount of taxes he would have to pay was not the amount in controversy, but that the total amount of the issue of bonds was. But this contention was overruled, and if the court did not err in that particular, and assuming, as we must, that complainant's liability did not exceed $2,000, the decree of the court was right, since it was its duty, when [158 U.S. 456, 460] it appeared to its satisfaction that the suit did not really and substantially involve a dispute or controversy properly within its jurisdiction, to proceed no further, and to dismiss the case. Morris v. Gilmer, 129 U.S. 315 , 9 Sup. Ct. 289.
This leaves the only question to be considered whether the amount of the interest of complainant, and not the entire issue of bonds, was the amount in controversy; and, in respect of that, we have no doubt the ruling of the circuit court was correct.
In El Paso Water Co. v. City of El Paso, 152 U.S. 157, 159 , 14 S. Sup. Ct. 494, which was a bill filed by the water company against the city of El Paso for an injunction, it was alleged, among other things, that if certain bonds were issued the complainant would be compelled to pay taxes on its property for the interest on the bonds, and to provide a sinking fund for the principal thereof, but the amount of the tax that would be thereby cast upon complainant's property was not disclosed; and we said, upon the question whether there was a sufficient amount in controversy to give this court jurisdiction: 'The bill is filed by the plaintiff to protect its individual interest, and to prevent damage to itself. It must therefore affirmatively appear that the acts charged against the city, and sought to be enjoined, would result in its damage to an amount in excess of $5,000. So far as respects the matter of taxes which, by the issue of bonds, would be cast upon the property of the plaintiff, it is enough to say that the amount thereof is not stated, nor any facts given from which it can be fairly inferred.' The case is in point, and is decisive.
Brown v. Trousdale, 138 U.S. 389, 394 , 11 S. Sup. Ct. 308, is not to the contrary. There several hundred taxpayers of a county in Kentucky, for themselves and others associated with them, numbering about 1,200, and for and on behalf of all other taxpayers in the county, 'and for the benefit likewise of said county,' filed their bill of complaint against the county authorities and certain funding officers, and all the holdr of the bonds, seeking a decree adjudging the invalidity of two series of bonds aggregating many hundred thousand dollars, and perpetually enjoining their collection; and an injunction [158 U.S. 456, 461] was also asked, as incidental to the principal relief, against the collection of a particular tax levled to meet the interest on the bonds. The leading question here was whether the case had been properly removed from the state court, and no consideration was given to the case upon the merits. As to the jurisdiction of this court, we said: 'The main question at issue was the validity of the bonds, and that involved the levy and collection of taxes for a series of years to pay interest thereon, and finally the principal thereof, and not the mere restraining of the tax for a single year. The grievance complained of was common to all the plaintiffs, and to all whom they professed to represent. The relief sought could not be legally injurious to any of the taxpayers of the county, as such, and the interest of those who did not join in or authorize the suit was identical with the interest of the plaintiffs. The rule applicable to plaintiffs, each claiming under a separate and distinct right, in respect to a separate and distinct liability, and that contested by the adverse party, is not applicable here; for although, as to the tax for the particular year, the injunction sought might restrain only the amount levied against each, that order was but preliminary, and was not the main purpose of the bill, but only incidental. The amount in dispute, in view of the main controversy, far exceeded the limit upon our jurisdiction, and disposes of the objection of appellees in that regard.'