Hoffman v. Blaski

LOCATION: Federal Reformatory for Women in West Virginia

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1958-1962)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

CITATION: 363 US 335 (1960)
ARGUED: Apr 19, 1960 / Apr 20, 1960
DECIDED: Jun 13, 1960

Facts of the case


Media for Hoffman v. Blaski

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 20, 1960 in Hoffman v. Blaski

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 19, 1960 in Hoffman v. Blaski

Earl Warren:

Number 25, Honorable Julius J. Hoffman, Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, Petitioner, versus John F. Blaski et al.

Mr. Merriam.

Charles J. Merriam:

Your Honor, if the Court please.

This case comes here on certiorari to the Seventh Circuit which had issued a writ of mandamus to petitioner directing him to send back to Dallas, Texas a patent infringement case which had been begun there and which had been transferred to the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division.

The facts on the case are simple.

The plaintiffs were all Illinois residents or corporations having their place of business in and around Chicago.

The two defendants, Mr. Howell and Lifetime Metal Buildings, were both residents of Texas and have their only place of business in and around Dallas.

After the case had been begun in 1957 in Dallas, the defendants moved to transfer the case to Illinois because of the pendency of another patent, in fact, two other patent infringement cases which had been pending in Illinois for some time and in which a great deal of pretrial discovery had been had.

The Court granted the motion to transfer.

The plaintiffs in Texas took -- asked for a writ of mandamus to the District Judge in Dallas.

They were -- that writ was denied in Ex parte Blaski in 245 F.2d 737.

A writ of certiorari was asked from this Court and denied and then the case was sent to Illinois whereupon the --

Felix Frankfurter:

May I interrupt you -- may I interrupt you to ask for that?

Upon the denial of the writ for the Fifth Circuit, the jurist -- the so called jurisdictional point was raised?

Charles J. Merriam:

Yes, it was Your Honor.

There was no -- there's no point of discretion in this case.

It's entirely a matter of jurisdiction and it was raised in the Fifth Circuit.

When the case was sent to Illinois --

Felix Frankfurter:

Raised and adjudicated in -- by the -- by the Court of Appeals in the Fifth Circuit?

Charles J. Merriam:

Yes, sir.

When the case came back to -- came to the Northern District of Illinois, it was assigned to Judge Hoffman and the plaintiffs moved to send it back to Texas on the ground that the Illinois Court had no power to receive it or the Texas Court had no power to send it.

And Judge Hoffman, the petitioner denied the motion whereupon a writ of mandamus was sought from the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals and was denied on July 1, 1958, whereupon a petition for rehearing was filed and granted on October 16th, 1958 without reargument.

A petition was then filed by Judge Hoffman asking that the Court reconsider the whole matter en banc in view of the fact that it was contrary to the decision, in this case, was contrary to two other cases of the Seventh Circuit and contrary to the decisions in four other circuits including the Blaski case to which I have just referred.

That petition -- that request for a rehearing was denied for the two.

Incidentally, the reversal of the mandamus was two to one.

This was for the two and the petition to this Court was properly taken and granted.

And there are, as Your Honors know, two other cases which follow this, one from the Seventh Circuit and one from the Fifth on the same point which involves the construction of Section 1404 (a) of the Title 28 Judicial Code which reads, “For the convenience of parties and witnesses in the interest of justice, a District Court may transfer any civil action to any other district or division where it might have been brought.”

And those last six words are the ones which have caused all of the controversy here.

Because of the time the case was transferred from Texas to Illinois, there was no indication that except for the waiver which was made in the motion to transfer that either Mr. Howell or Lifetime Metal Buildings could have been served in Illinois.

They have not -- they have no place of business there, they were not resident there and they had not committed an act of infringement there.