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Durfee v. Duke

United States Supreme Court
375 U.S. 106 (1963)



Durfee (defendant) sued Duke (plaintiff) in Nebraska state court to quiet title to land on the Missouri River on the boundary between Nebraska and Missouri. The Nebraska court's subject matter jurisdiction depended on whether the land was in Nebraska. Duke appeared in the Nebraska state court and contested jurisdiction, but litigated the case to completion. The Nebraska court held that the land was part of Nebraska by avulsion, found jurisdiction proper, and ruled in favor of Durfee. Duke appealed, but the Nebraska Supreme Court affirmed the decision after a trial de novo on the record. Instead of requesting a writ of certiorari, Duke sued to quiet title in Missouri state court, claiming the land was in Missouri and the Nebraska court never had jurisdiction. The case was removed to federal court based on diversity of citizenship. The district court concluded that the land was in Missouri, but nevertheless held that res judicata applied and the judgment of the Nebraska Supreme Court was binding. The court of appeals reversed, finding that the Nebraska judgment regarding a land dispute was not entitled to full faith and credit. Thus, under the appellate court’s view, a Missouri court had the right to reconsider the question of the Nebraska court’s subject matter jurisdiction. Durfee petitioned the United States Supreme Court for certiorari, which was granted.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Stewart, J.)

Concurrence (Black, J.)

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