The Assessors v. Osbornes

Court Documents

United States Supreme Court

76 U.S. 567

The Assessors  v.  Osbornes

IN this case, which came on error from the Circuit Court for the Northern District of New York, the same condition of enactment and repeal of statutes presented itself as in the last case. It is set forth, supra, pp. 560-562. It makes the fundamental part of this case as of that. And the reader who desires to read the report of this case as well as the report of that, will please to recall it thence, or refer to it there.

In the present case, D. & J. Osborne, manufacturers, brought suit to June Term, 1866, against one Gates, assessor of internal revenue, to recover damages for his having illegally assessed against them taxes upon certain articles manufactured by them. A case was stated for the judgment of the court. In one clause of it, it was agreed that 'the plaintiffs, for several years past, have been manufacturers of reaping and mowing machines at the city of Auburn, and within the 24th collection district of the State of New York;' and in another clause, that 'the defendant, as the assessor of the 24th district, did require of the plaintiffs that they should return, &c., the number of tons,' &c.

In the declaration a similar representation was made as to the citizenship of the parties. It alleged that the plaintiffs bring 'their certain declaration against Joseph Gates, the assessor of internal revenue for the 24th district of the State of New York, which is in and within the said Northern District of New York;' and it thus began: 'And whereas the said D. M. Osborn & Company, so being the exclusive manufacturers, &c., at their said manufacturing establishment in the said city of Auburn, and within the said 24th collection district of the said State.'

The court gave judgment for the plaintiffs, and the government brought the case here on error.

Mr. Hoar, Attorney-General, and Mr. Field, Assistant Attorney-General, for the assessor.

The cases of the Insurance Company v. Ritchie, and of Hornthall v. The Collector, [1] conclude this case, irrespective of merits. Any discussion of these is, therefore, irrelative. The parties were obviously all resident within and all probably citizens of the State of New York, and it was perfectly settled by the first of the cases cited, as it is also affirmed by the second, that in the present state of the statutory law, a Circuit Court of the United States has no jurisdiction of a suit originally brought there for an alleged illegal assessment of internal revenue taxes collected or paid, unless the citizenship of the parties be such as to give it jurisdiction, and unless, also, this citizenship be averred.

Mr. D. Wright, contra, submitted,

1st. That it did not appear that the case had not been brought originally in a State court and removed into the Circuit Court, as required by the statute of July 13th, 1866, to give the Circuit Court jurisdiction under existing laws.

2d. That it did not appear that the plaintiff and defendant were not citizens of different States, as required to confer jurisdiction upon the Circuit Court.

3d. That if the case was properly cognizable in the Circuit Court at the time it was commenced, the subsequent repeal of the provision conferring such jurisdiction would not impair the right of the plaintiffs to maintain the suit.

Mr. Justice CLIFFORD stated the particulars of the case, and delivered the opinion of the court.


^1  5 Wallace, 541; and supra, 560.

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).