MISSOURI &C. R'Y. CO. v. MISSOURI R'D &C. COMRS.(1901)
[183 U.S. 53, 54] This case involves the question of removal from a state to a Federal court.
The state of Missouri has a body of statutes for the regulation of railroads. By one section a board of railroad commissioners is created. To this board is committed the duty of supervising the conduct and charges of railroads, of hearing and deciding complaints against them, and making such orders as the circumstances require. Section 1143, Rev. Stat. Mo. ( 1899), identical with 2646, Rev. Stat. Mo. (1889), contains this provision:
The section also authorizes the commissioners to summon witnesses, to punish for failure or refusal to attend or testify, declares that any common carrier wilfully or knowingly obstructing of preventing the commissioners from making such investigations shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and punished by a fine. Other sections provide for penalties and forfeitures. In 1144, the same as 2647, Rev. Stat. 1889, is this clause:
Section 1150 ( 2653, Rev. Stat. 1889) reads as follows:
Under the authority of these statutes, upon a hearing after complaint and notice, the railroad commissioners found that the railway company was charging excessive and illegal rates for travel over what is known as the Boonville bridge across the Missouri river, and made and entered of record an order directing it to discontinue such charges. This order was dated July 22, 1895. The railway company not complying with the order, a suit was instituted on August 17, 1895, in the circuit court of Cooper county, Missouri, by such commissioners, setting forth the facts and praying process, mandatory or otherwise, to restrain the defendant from further continuing to violate the law and the order of the commissioners. The company in due time filed a petition for removal to the circuit court of the United States, alleging that it was a corporation created and existing under the laws of the state of Kansas and a citizen of that state, and that the plaintiffs were citizens of the state of Missouri. No question was made as to the sufficiency of the petition and bond in respect to any formal matter. The state court refused to order the removal, notwithstanding which the railway company took a transcript of the record and filed it in the Federal court, where a motion to remand was made and overruled. 97 Fed. 113. The state court, after refusing to order the removal, proceeded with the hearing of the case, the railway company declining to take any part therein. On such hearing a decree was entered in accordance with the petition of the railroad commissioners. This decree was ap- [183 U.S. 53, 58] pealed to the supreme court of the state, and by that court on June 30, 1899, affirmed. 151 Mo. 644, 52 S. W. 351.
Mr. George P. B. Jackson for plaintiff in error.
Messrs. Edward C. Crow and Samuel B. Jeffries submitted the case for defendant in error.
Mr. Justice Brewer delivered the opinion of the court:
The single question presented for our consideration is whether the railway company was entitled to remove this suit from the state to the Federal court. The state court refused the removal, and the Federal court, on the other hand, denied a motion to remand. Under these circumstances this court has jurisdiction to determine whether there was error on the part of the state court in retaining the case. Removal Cases, 100 U.S. 457 , Sub nom. Meyer v. Delaware R. Constr. Co. 25 L. ed. 593; Stone v. South Carolina, 117 U.S. 430 , 29 L. ed. 962, 6 Sup. Ct. Rep. 799; Missouri P. R. Co. v. Fitzgerald, 160 U.S. 556, 582 , 40 S. L. ed. 536, 542, 16 Sup. Ct. Rep. 389.
On the face of the record the railway company was entitled to a removal. The plaintiffs were citizens of Missouri, the state in which the suit was brought. The railway company was a citizen of the state of Kansas. There was, therefore, diverse citizenship, the defendant a citizen of another state than that in which the suit was brought petitioning for removal, and the removal appears perfect in form.
But it was held by the supreme court of the state of Missouri that it was proper to go behind the face of the record and inquire who was the real party plaintiff, and, making such examination, that court decided that the real party plaintiff was the state of Missouri. If that conclusion be correct then no removal in this case was justifiable, because a state is not a citizen within the meaning of the removal acts. Stone v. South Carolina, 117 U.S. 430 , 29 L. ed. 962, 6 Sup. Ct. Rep. 799; Germania Ins. Co. v. Wisconsin, 119 U.S. 473 , 30 L. ed. 461, 7 Sup. Ct. Rep. 260; Postal Teleg. Cable Co. v. United States, 155 U.S. 482 , sub nom. Postal Teleg. Cable Co. v. Alabama, 39 L. ed. 231, 15 Sup. Ct. Rep. 192.
Was the state the real party plaintiff? It was at an early [183 U.S. 53, 59] day held by this court, construing the 11th Amendment, that in all cases where jurisdiction depends on the party it is the party named in the record. Osborn v. Bank of United States, 9 Wheat. 738, 6 L. ed. 204. But that technical construction has yielded to one more in consonance with the spirit of the amendment, and in Re Ayers, 123 U.S. 443 , 31 L. ed. 216, 8 Sup. Ct. Rep. 164, it was ruled upon full consideration that the amendment covers, not only suits against a state by name, but those also against its officers, agents, and representatives where the state, though not named as such, is nevertheless the only real party against which in fact the relief is asked, and against which the judgment or decree effectively operates. And that construction of the amendment has since been followed. That amendment refers only to suits brought against a state. But applying the same principles of construction to the removal acts and to cases in which it is claimed that the state, though not the nominal, is in fact the real, party plaintiff, it may fairly be held that the state is such real party when the relief sought is that which inures to it alone, and in its favor the judgment or decree, if for the plaintiff, will effectively operate. Such a case was Ferguson v. Ross, 3 L. R. A. 322, 38 Fed. 161. There an action was brought in the name of Ferguson, a shore inspector, against Ross and others, to recover a penalty. The statute of New York authorized the suit to be prosecuted in the name of the inspector, but all the moneys recovered were payable into the treasury of the state, and it was held by the circuit court for the eastern district of New York that the action was one in which the real party plaintiff was the state. It was for its sole benefit that the action was brought, and it alone was to be benefited by the recovery.
But this case is not like Ferguson v. Ross, and does not come within the rule above stated. It is not an action to recover any money for the state. Its results will not inure to the benefit of the state as a state in any degree. It is a suit to compel compliance with an order of the railroad commissioners in respect to rates and charges. The parties interested are the railway company, on the one hand, and they who use the bridge, on the other; the one interested to have the charges maintained as they have been, the others to have them reduced in compliance with the order of the commissioners. They are the real [183 U.S. 53, 60] parties in interest, and in respect to whom the decree will effectively operate.
It is true that the state has a governmental interest in the welfare of all its citizens, in compelling obedience to the legal orders of all its officials, and in securing compliance with all its laws. But such general governmental interest is not that which makes the state, as an organized political community, a party in interest in the litigation, for if that were so the state would be a party in interest in all litigation; because the purpose of all litigation is to preserve and enforce rights and secure compliance with the law of the state, either statute or common. The interest must be one in the state as an artificial person. Reagan v. Farmers' Loan & T. Co. 154 U.S. 362 -390, 38 L. ed. 1014-1021, 4 Inters. Com. Rep. 560, 14 Sup. Ct. Rep. 1047
While not controverting these general propositions, the supreme court of the state was of the opinion that the state had a direct, pecuniary interest in the result of the litigation, by virtue, first, of its possible liability for costs, and, secondly, because were the litigation pushed to the extreme there might be penalties imposed which would, when collected, pass into the school fund of the state. We quote its language:
We are unable to concur in these views. Whatever may be the result of any subsequent or ancillary proceeding, the direct object of this suit is to obtain a decree of the court commanding the railway company to comply with the order of the commissioners. Such a decree is similar to the ordinary decrees of a court of equity, and it is familiar that a court of equity may enforce compliance with its orders and decrees by penalties upon the delinquents. So that if this possible pecuniary result is sufficient to make the state the real party plaintiff it would follow that in Missouri the state is the real party plaintiff in every equity suit, because in every equity suit such penalties may be imposed.
Neither can it be held that the state's voluntary assumption of the costs of the litigation when the decree is adverse to the railroad commissioners makes it the real party plaintiff. That is simply an incidental matter, and does not determine its relations to the suit any more than its payment of the salary of the judge, fees of jurors, or any other expenses of the litigation. We are of opinion, therefore, that the party named in the record as plaintiff is the real party plaintiff, and that the voluntary assumption by the state of the costs in some contingencies of the litigation, or the indirect and remote pecuniary results which may follow from a disobedience of the orders of the court, do not make it the party to whom alone the relief sought inures, and in whose favor a decree for the plaintiff will effectively operate.
The judgment of the Supreme Court of the State of Missouri is reversed, and the case remanded to that court for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.
Mr. Justice Gray was not present at the argument, and took no part in the decision of this case.