LOCATION: Circuit Court of Vermilion County
DOCKET NO.: 91-594
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1991-1993)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
CITATION: 505 US 247 (1992)
ARGUED: Mar 03, 1992
DECIDED: Jun 19, 1992
Gilbert Upton - Argued the cause for the respondents
J. Gilbert Upton - on behalf of the Respondents
Roy T. Englert, Jr. - Argued the cause for the petitioner
Roy T. Englert, Jr. - for petitioner
Ronald J. Mann - Argued the cause for the Unites States as amicus curiae urging reversal
Facts of the case
Plaintiffs filed two state-law tort actions in New Hampshire state courts, alleging that one of them had contracted AIDS from a transfusion of contaminated blood during surgery. The second action was brought against the Red Cross after plaintiffs discovered that it had supplied the tainted blood. Before the state court could decide a motion to consolidate the cases, the Red Cross invoked the federal removal statute, 28 U.S.C. Section 1441, to remove the second suit to federal court. The district court rejected the plaintiffs' motion to remand the case to state court, holding that the Red Cross' charter provision allowing it to "sue and be sued in courts of law and equity, State or Federal, within the jurisdiction of the United States," 36 U.S.C. Section 2, conferred original jurisdiction on the federal district court.
Does the "sue and be sued" provision in the Red Cross' charter confer original jurisdiction on federal courts over all cases to which the Red Cross is a party?
Media for American National Red Cross v. S.G.Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 03, 1992 in American National Red Cross v. S.G.
Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - June 19, 1992 in American National Red Cross v. S.G.
William H. Rehnquist:
The opinion of the Court in No. 91-594, American National Red Cross versus S.G. and A.E. will be announced by Justice Souter.
David H. Souter:
This case comes to us on writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.
Respondents filed a state law tort suit in a New Hampshire State Court alleging that one of them had contracted AIDS from a transfusion of infected blood supplied by the petitioner, Red Cross.
The Red Cross removed the case to Federal District Court citing among other basis for federal jurisdiction the sue-and-be-sued provision of its federal charter.
The District Court asserted jurisdiction on that basis.
The Court of Appeals reversed concluding that the charter provision in question did not in fact confer federal jurisdiction over cases to which the Red Cross was a party.
In an opinion filed today, we reverse the decision of the Court of Appeals.
This Court has construed similar sue-and-be-sued provision since the early 19th century.
When read together, our cases support a rule that such a provision may be read to confer a federal jurisdiction if it specifically mentions the Federal Courts, though a particular Federal Court need not be mentioned by name.
As the relevant provision of the Red Cross' Charter satisfies this requirement, we hold that it confers federal jurisdiction over cases to which that organization is a party.
Justice Scalia has filed a dissenting opinion in which the Chief Justice, Justice O'Connor, and Justice Kennedy have joined.