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SWIFT & CO. v. HOOVER , 242 U.S. 107 (1916)

U.S. Supreme Court

SWIFT & CO. v. HOOVER , 242 U.S. 107 (1916)

242 U.S. 107

SWIFT & COMPANY et al., Plffs. in Err. and Appts.,
v.
J. NOBLE HOOVER.
No. 101.

Submitted November 14, 1916.
Decided December 4, 1916.

Messrs. Arthur A. Birney, H. Winship Wheatley, and Lucas P. Loving for plaintiffs in error and appellants.

Mr. Edward F. Colladay for defendant in error and appellee. [242 U.S. 107, 108]  

Mr. Justice Day delivered the opinion of the court:

This case is brought here by appeal and allowance of writ of error, from a decree of the supreme court of the District of Columbia, adjudging Hoover not a bankrupt. Counsel for the appellee and defendant in error urges that the appeal and writ be dismissed, but does not argue the question of the jurisdiction of this court; but, as such matters are noticed by this court whether specially urged by counsel or not, as it concerns our jurisdiction, we proceed to consider it. Mansfield, C. & L. M. R. Co. v. Swan, 111 U.S. 379 , 28 L. ed. 462, 4 Sup. Ct. Rep. 510.

The provisions of the Bankruptcy Act for consideration in this connection are:

... * *

The same provision as to the review by this court of controversies arising in bankruptcy proceedings is carried into the Judicial Code, 252 [ 36 Stat. at L. 1159, chap. 231, Comp. Stat. 1913, 1229], in which provision in made for the review in this court of controversies arising in bank- [242 U.S. 107, 109]   ruptcy proceedings in the supreme court of the District of Columbia.

It is apparent from reading these sections of the statute that a direct appeal to this court from the supreme court of the District of Columbia is allowed only in controversies arising in bankruptcy proceedings, and not from the steps in a bankruptcy proceeding. The nature of such controversies has been frequently considered in decisions of this court, and needs little discussion now. Such controversies embrace litigation which arises after the adjudication in bankruptcy, sometimes by intervention, the parties claiming title to property in the hands of the trustee, or other actions, usually plenary in character, concerning the right and title to the bankrupt's estate. Such proceedings as the present one, resulting in a decree refusing to adjudicate the defendant a bankrupt, are but steps in a bankruptcy proceeding, and not controversies arising in bankruptcy proceedings within the meaning of the statute. First Nat. Bank v. Klug, 186 U.S. 202 , 46 L. ed. 1127, 22 Sup. Ct. Rep. 899.

The decisions of this court in Tefft, W. & Co. v. Munsuri, 222 U.S. 114 , 56 L. ed. 118, 32 Sup. Ct. Rep. 67, and Munsuri v. Fricker, 222 U.S. 121 , 56 L. ed. 121, 32 Sup. Ct. Rep. 70, are decisive of this point. In the first of these cases there was an attempt to prosecute a direct appeal to this court from the district court of the United States for Porto Rico, where the proceeding was based upon a claim in bankruptcy. It was there held that an order of the bankruptcy court of Porto Rico, disallowing the claim, was not a controversy arising in a bankruptcy proceeding within the meaning of the statute. The contention that such action, based upon a claim filed in a bankruptcy proceeding, was appealable to this court, was denied, the court saying:

It is true that in Audubon v. Shufeldt, 181 U.S. 575 , 45 L. ed. 1009, 21 Sup. Ct. Rep. 735, and in Armstrong v. Fernandez, 208 U.S. 324 , 52 L. ed. 514, 28 Sup. Ct. Rep. 419, this court did review proceedings in bankruptcy-in one case from the District of Columbia, and in the other from the district court of the United States for Porto Rico. Of the Armstrong Case, which was a review by appeal of an adjudication of bankruptcy, this court, in the Tefft, W. & Co. Case, supra, said:

It follows that the appeal and writ of error must be dismissed for want of jurisdiction.

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