Horton v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Company

PETITIONER: Horton
RESPONDENT: Liberty Mutual Insurance Company
LOCATION: Circuit Court of Montgomery County

DOCKET NO.: 478
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1958-1962)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

CITATION: 367 US 348 (1961)
ARGUED: May 03, 1961
DECIDED: Jun 12, 1961

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Horton v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Company

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - May 03, 1961 in Horton v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Company

Earl Warren:

Emmett Horton, Petitioner, versus Liberty Mutual Insurance Company.

Mr. Tonahill.

Joe H. Tonahill:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

The question involved here is whether the amount of an Industrial Accident Board's award of $1050 which the respondent appeal fixes jurisdiction under the diversity of jurisdiction statute.

This case arose in Texas under the Workmen's Compensation Law of Texas.

The injured workman Horton filed his claim before the Board and the Board ruled and entered to file award allowing him 30 weeks at $35 a week.He claimed the maximum of 401 weeks but the Board allowed him 30 weeks.

On the day of the award, the respondent filed it directly in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas seeking to set aside the Board's award of $1050 and vacating it and holding it for note, claiming jurisdiction under the diversity statute.

The petitioner Horton filed a motion to dismiss on the ground the jurisdiction was not present because the amount that the respondent sought to relieve itself of liability for was only $1050 and did not meet the requisite jurisdictional requirement of $10,000 exclusive of interest and cost.

Subject to the motion to dismiss, the petitioner Horton filed a counterclaim, a compulsory counterclaim subject to its motion.The trial court dismissed both the main action of respondent and the counterclaim as well on the ground that no jurisdiction attached.

Under the Workmen's Compensation Law of Texas Article 8307, Section 5, a party who is dissatisfied with the ruling of the Board has a right to appeal from that award to set that award aside.

That's as far as it goes.

Charles E. Whittaker:

When you say "appeal", do you mean appeal?

Joe H. Tonahill:

Well, appeal a branch that -- to set it aside.

Yes, sir, appeal.

That's what it would be.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Well, let -- let's see.

Suppose review had been sought in a state court, Mr. Tonahill, instead of this action would be brought to Federal District Court, what form will it take?

A new action in the state court or would it had been an appeal to some -- one of the state courts from the judgment of the workmen's compensation?

Joe H. Tonahill:

It would -- it would be an appeal, a trial de novo, sir.

And that's exactly what Horton did, the petitioner here.

He filed his notice of appeal.

The law requires that notice of appeal must be given in a suit file within 20 days thereafter.

Horton gave notice of --

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

An -- a suit filed within 20 days thereafter?

Joe H. Tonahill:

Yes, sir.

To set aside --

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Well, wouldn't that require a pleading under Texas practice?

Joe H. Tonahill:

Yes, sir.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

A complaint?

Joe H. Tonahill:

A complaint.