Black v. Amen

PETITIONER: Black
RESPONDENT: Amen
LOCATION: United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division

DOCKET NO.: 13
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1957-1958)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

CITATION: 355 US 600 (1958)
ARGUED: Nov 12, 1957 / Nov 13, 1957
DECIDED: Mar 03, 1958

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Black v. Amen

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 12, 1957 in Black v. Amen

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 13, 1957 in Black v. Amen

Earl Warren:

Number 13, William H. Black and Ruth H. Black, Petitioners, versus A. M. Amen, et al.

Mr. Smith, you may proceed.

Douglas F. Smith:

May it please the Court.

To recapitulate for just a moment, I should like to emphasize that in our view, the question here is essentially one of fact not of law.

We say that on the facts here, the question posed by the Court on certiorari is not presented, it's not presented by the facts.

Petitioner cites a number of decisions by distinguished courts and judges which hold as -- he stated in one quite graphically that the Court does not have jurisdiction to deal with non-diverse interveners in a case in which the claims are simply a conjury of separate claims involving only common questions.

We don't find it necessary to deal with those cases.

They do not relate to the facts of the case before the Court.

They're germane to the argument that Brother Acheson has with Professor Moore which is an interesting question but it's an academic one in this case.

On the other hand, we rely on many cases in which this Court and other federal courts have held that if the claims are interdependent claims to funds of which the federal court has taken control, that then jurisdiction exists to make a full disposition of that property subject to the control of the Court.

Petitioner purports not to question these decisions naturally.

He says yes but in those cases, there were -- there were really funds there.

Well, let's see about that.

In the leading case of Stewart versus Dunham, decision of this Court, there was an equitable trust imposed upon money in the hands of the fraudulent transferee.

It wasn't locked in the Court's safe or in the physical possession of the Court.

It was -- it was just money in the hands of the fraudulent transferee.

Let's look at Hanley versus (Inaudible).

There, there wasn't any money in possession of the Court in the literal sense.

It was money in the hands of stockholders who hadn't paid for their stock subscriptions and the creditor is one to get to him.

And the Court impressed a constructive trust on it and then heard the property, was property in the assets of an insurance company.

And in Dickinson versus Burnham, there is a case that's particularly an uncomfortable one from my friend.

It was decided by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals fairly recently.

There, there had been money collected for a corporate purpose.

But as the District Court said in that case, the case was not one to collect from a trustee of that money that had been collected, the trustee wasn't in court.

It was not a case to reinstate a trust.

If you please, it was precisely the situation we have here, the Court impressed a constructive trust upon unjust enrichment that came into the hands of a fraud feasor, exactly the situation we have here and the Court said that there were independent claims in an order fully to distribute the fund.

It should be done by one court.

And he took -- he took jurisdiction of non-diverse interveners and this Court denied certiorari.

Felix Frankfurter:

Mr. Smith, you can sustain your judgment of course on any ground on which you can sustain it.

Douglas F. Smith:

That's right.