Willy v. Coastal Corporation

RESPONDENT:Coastal Corp. et al.
LOCATION:Northern District Court of New York

DOCKET NO.: 90-1150
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1991-1993)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

CITATION: 503 US 131 (1992)
ARGUED: Dec 03, 1991
DECIDED: Mar 03, 1992

Michael L. Beatty – on behalf of the Respondents
Michael A. Maness – on behalf of the Petitioner

Facts of the case


Media for Willy v. Coastal Corporation

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – December 03, 1991 in Willy v. Coastal Corporation

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – March 03, 1992 in Willy v. Coastal Corporation

William H. Rehnquist:

I have the opinion of the Court to announce in No. 90-1150, Willy against Coastal Corporation.

This case is here on a writ of certiorari to the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

Petitioner, Willy, sued respondent, Coastal Corporation, in State Court.

The Coastal Corporation removed the case to Federal District Court.

The District Court eventually dismissed petitioner’s action for failure to state a claim.

At the time of the dismissal, however, it also imposed sanctions for improper behavior by the petitioner pursuant to Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

On appeal, the Court of Appeals determined that the District Court had lacked jurisdiction to hear the case and so ordered the District Court to vacate its order dismissing the case and to remand the case to the State Court once it had originally come.

At the same time, the Court of Appeals affirmed the order of sanctions.

In an opinion filed with the Clerk today, we affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals.

In several cases dating back half a century, we have held that actions taken by a court bind the parties even though it is later determined that the court did not have subject-matter jurisdiction.

The District Court’s proper interest in having its rules of procedure obey it did not disappear with the subsequent determination that it lacked jurisdiction.

Its action was collateral to the merits of the case and so raises no question of exceeding the limits imposed on federal jurisdiction by Article III of the Constitution.

The opinion is unanimous.