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Cone v. West Virginia Pulp & Paper Co.

United States Supreme Court
330 U.S. 212 (1947)


Facts

Cone (plaintiff) sued West Virginia Pulp & Paper Co. (Pulp) (defendant) for $25,000 in South Carolina state court for trespassing and cutting wood on land owned by Cone. Pulp had the case removed to federal court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. Pulp answered that Cone did not own or possess the land at issue. Cone had the burden of proving ownership under South Carolina law. At the close of evidence, Pulp moved the court to enter a directed verdict on the ground that Cone did not make the requisite showing of ownership. The district court denied the motion, and the jury awarded Cone $15,000. After final judgment was entered, Pulp filed a motion for a new trial on the basis of new evidence, which was denied. Pulp did not file a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (j.n.o.v.). On appeal, the court of appeals concluded that some of the evidence used by Cone to prove ownership should have been excluded. On that basis, the court of appeals concluded there was not enough evidence to submit the questions of title and possession to the jury. The court of appeals reversed and remanded the case to the district court with direction that judgment be entered for Pulp. Cone petitioned the United States Supreme Court for certiorari, which was granted.

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Holding and Reasoning (Black, J.)

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