November 17, 1924
STATE OF MISSOURI EX REL. ST. LOUIS, BROWNSVILLE & MEXICO RAILWAY COMPANY
TAYLOR, JUDGE OF THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE CITY OF ST. LOUIS
ERROR AND CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF MISSOURI
Taft, McKenna, Holmes, Van Devanter, McReynolds, Brandeis, Sutherland, Butler, Sanford
[ 266 U.S. Page 206]
MR. JUSTICE BRANDEIS delivered the opinion of the Court.
The American Fruit Growers, Inc., a Delaware corporation with a usual place of business in Missouri, brought an action against the St. Louis, Brownsville & Mexico Railway Company in an inferior court of Missouri. Jurisdiction was asserted solely by reason of the garnishment of traffic balances due from a connecting interstate carrier having a place of business in Missouri. The Brownsville Company is a Texas corporation; operates its railroad solely in that State; has no place of business in Missouri; and has not consented to be sued there. The cause of action sued on consisted of three claims of a consignee for damages to freight originating in Texas on lines of the Brownsville Company and shipped on through bills of lading to points in other States.
The Brownsville Company did not enter an appearance, general or special. Instead, it instituted in the Supreme Court of Missouri an application for a writ of prohibition -- the proceeding here under review -- praying that the judge of the inferior court be enjoined from taking cognizance of the pending action because he lacked jurisdiction. The highest court of the State denied relief. 298 Mo. 474. The case is here in writ of error; and also on certiorari, 263 U.S. 696. The suggestion was made, at the argument, that this Court is without jurisdiction, because the judgment below was not final. The contrary is settled. The application for a writ of prohibition is an independent adversary suit which was finally determined by the judgment under review. Detroit & Mackinac Ry. Co. v. Michigan
[ 266 U.S. Page 207]
No peculiarity of state procedure will be permitted to enlarge or to abridge a substantive federal right. Central Vermont Ry. Co. v. White, 238 U.S. 507, 511; Atlantic Coast Line R.R. v. Burnette, 239 U.S. 199; New Orleans & Northeastern R.R. Co. v. Harris, 247 U.S. 367, 371; Yazoo & Mississippi Valley R.R. Co. v. Mullins, 249 U.S. 531. But to enforce a claim by subjecting property within the State to its satisfaction, through attachment proceeding, does not enlarge the substantive right.
The practice of obtaining in this way satisfaction of a claim in personam against an absent defendant is not one abhorrent to, or uncommon in, federal courts. In admiralty, district courts take original jurisdiction under such circumstances. Atkins v. Disintegrating Co., 18 Wall. 272. At law, they do so on removal. When the case is removed, it proceeds to judgment in the federal court and the judgment is enforced there as against the attached property with the same effect as if the cause had remained in the state court. Clark v. Wells, 203 U.S. 164.
Writ of error dismissed.