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Railway Co. v. Whitton’s Administrator

United States Supreme Court
80 U.S. 270 (1871)


Henry Whitton was the administrator of his wife’s estate (plaintiff) after she died while working for Railway Co. (defendant) railroad. Whitton’s Administrator sued Railway Co. in Wisconsin state court, alleging his wife’s death was caused by the company’s negligence and mismanagement. The applicable Wisconsin statute that created a cause of action for the administrator of an estate also provided that “such action shall be brought for a death caused in this State, and, in some court established by the constitution and laws of same.” Congress then passed the federal diversity jurisdiction statute, the Act of March 2, 1867, 14 Stat. 558, while the state court action was pending. The statute directed that any case then pending or later brought in state court between citizens of different states where the amount in controversy exceeded $500 could be removed by either party to federal circuit court. Whitton’s Administrator then removed the case to federal court and won a judgment in the amount of $5,000. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari on the issue of jurisdiction of the circuit court.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Field, J.)

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