Limbach v. Hoover & Allison Company

PETITIONER: Limbach
RESPONDENT: Hoover & Allison Company
LOCATION: Dodge Main Plant

DOCKET NO.: 83-96
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: Ohio Supreme Court

CITATION: 466 US 353 (1984)
ARGUED: Feb 22, 1984
DECIDED: Apr 18, 1984

ADVOCATES:
Michael Nims - on behalf of the Respondent
Richard C. Farrin - on behalf of the Petitioner

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Limbach v. Hoover & Allison Company

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 22, 1984 in Limbach v. Hoover & Allison Company

Warren E. Burger:

Mr. Farrin, I think you may proceed when you're ready.

Richard C. Farrin:

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court:

This case involves the Import-Export Clause of the United States Constitution in Ohio's ad valorem personal property tax which applies to all goods used in business within Ohio regardless of their origin.

This case presents two issues to the Court, both of which involve the scope of this Court's 1976 decision in Michelin Tire Corporation v. Wages.

The first issue is whether the Ohio Supreme Court properly applied and interpreted this Court's decision in Michelin in its holding that the Tax Commissioner was collaterally estopped by this Court's 1945 decision in Hooven & Allison Company v. Evatt from imposing its ad valorem property tax on Hooven & Allison's imported raw materials which were no longer in transit or retained in their original packages and were held for use in manufacturing in Ohio.

Inherent in this issue is whether the original package doctrine upon which Hooven was based retains any validity with respect to Import-Export Clause cases subsequent to this Court's decision in Michelin.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

Mr. Farrin, did the Ohio Supreme Court apply state collateral estoppel principles in finding the state precluded by the Hooven & Allison decision?

Richard C. Farrin:

Justice O'Connor, the state... the Ohio Supreme Court accepted this Court's limitation on the doctrine of collateral estoppel enunciated in Commissioner v. Sunnen, but found that that limitation being that collateral estoppel is inapplicable where an intervening decision of this Court has changed the legal principles upon which the prior decision was based.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

Well, so you think the Court was trying to apply federal preclusion principles.

Richard C. Farrin:

Justice O'Connor, I believe the Court was applying federal law on the issue.

I believe it was required to apply federal law--

Sandra Day O'Connor:

Thank you.

Richard C. Farrin:

--Because it was basing its decision on a decision of this Court.

The second issue--

John Paul Stevens:

What is the source, if I may ask you?

What is the source of the federal collateral estoppel law?

Just is there... is there sort of a federal common law, is it, of collateral estoppel that's binding on the states?

Richard C. Farrin:

--Justice Stevens, I believe it's inherent in the basic power of a court that it must determine the scope of its own judgment.

The judgment upon which the Ohio Supreme Court based its collateral estopped decision was Hooven & Allison v. Evatt, which was a decision of this Court which dealt solely with the federal constitutional issue; that is, the immunity provided by the Import-Export Clause of the federal Constitution.

I believe this Court has on at least two occasions determined that where collateral estopped is based upon a federal decision that the effect of that decision is a federal question reviewable by this Court.

The second issue--

John Paul Stevens:

And what are those cases you're just referring to?

Richard C. Farrin:

--Those... those cases... and I apologize; they were not cited in the brief, because I was not aware of them at the time... are Deposit Bank v. Frankfurt at 191 U.S. 499, and Stahl v. Gottlieb, 305 U.S. at 165.

I think this principle is consistent with the restatement of judgments at Section 87 which in effect carries out the--

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Do you mind restating what you say those cases stand for?

Richard C. Farrin:

--Certainly, Mr. Justice Brennan.

My position is that those cases state that where a federal judge... whether a federal judgment has been given due effect is a decision for this Court to make.

It's a federal question and not a question for the state court to decide.

I believe they point out that it's a fundamental concept that a court must determine the scope and effect of its own judgment.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Well, I thought... the way you stated it previously, was it the meaning, what the Court held in the prior cases a federal question, not the... not the... not the effect that must be given it in a state court.