Cohen v. Beneficial Industrial Loan Corp./Dissent Douglas

Court Documents
Case Syllabus
Opinion of the Court
Dissenting Opinions

United States Supreme Court

337 U.S. 541

Cohen  v.  Beneficial Industrial Loan Corporation Beneficial Industrial Loan Corporation

 Argued: April 18, 1949. --- Decided: June 20, 1949

Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, with whom Mr. Justice FRANKFURTER concurs, dissenting in part.

The cause of action on which this suit is brought is a derivative one. Though it belongs to the corporation, the stockholders are entitled under state law to enforce it. The measure of the cause of action is the claim which the corporation has against the alleged wrongdoers. This New Jersey statute does not add one iota to nor subtract one iota from that cause of action. It merely prescribes the method by which stockholders may enforce it. Each state has numerous regulations governing the institution of suits in its courts. They may favor the litigation or they may affect it adversely. But they do not fall under the principle of Erie R. Co. v. Tompkins, 304 U.S. 64, 58 S.Ct. 817, 82 L.Ed. 1188, 114 A.L.R. 1487, unless they define, qualify or delimit the cause of action or otherwise relate to it.

This New Jersey statute, like statutes governing security for costs, regulates only the procedure for instituting a particular cause of action and hence need not be applied in this diversity suit in the federal court. Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure defines that procedure for the federal courts.



This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).

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