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Catron

United States Supreme Court

55 U.S. 80

Rundle  v.  Delaware


Mr. Justice CATRON.

My opinion is, and long has been, that the mayor and aldermen of a city corporation, or the president and directors of a bank, or the president and directors of a railroad company, (and of other similar corporations,) are the true parties that sue and are sued as trustees and representatives of the constantly changing stockholders. These are not known to the public, and not suable in practice, by service of personal notice on them respectively, such as the laws of the United States require. If the president and directors are citizens of the State where the corporation was created, and the other party to the suit is a citizen of a different State, or a subject or citizen of a foreign government, then the courts of the United States can exercise jurisdiction under the third article of the Constitution. In this sense I understood Letson's case, and assented to it when the decision was made; and so it is understood now.

If all the real defendants are not within the jurisdiction of the court, because some of the directors reside beyond it, then the act of February 28, 1843, allows the suit to proceed, regardless of this fact, for the reasons stated in Litson's case. 2 How. 597.

If the United States courts could be ousted of jurisdiction, and citizens of other States and subjects of foreign countries be forced into the State courts, without the power of election, they would often be deprived, in great cases, of all benefit contemplated by the Constitution; and, in many cases, be compelled to submit their rights to judges and juries who are inhabitants of the cities where the suit must be tried, and to contend with powerful corporations, in local courts, where the chances of impartial justice would be greatly against them; and where no prudent man would engage with such an antagonist, if he could help it. State laws, by combining large masses of men under a corporate name, cannot repeal the Constitution; all corporations must have trustees and representatives, who are usually citizens of the State where the corporation is created; and these citizens can be sued, and the corporate property charged by the suit; nor can the courts allow the constitutional security to be evaded by unnecessary refinements, without inflicting a deep injury on the institutions of the country

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).