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State Farm Fire & Casualty Co. v. Tashire

United States Supreme Court
386 U.S. 523 (1967)


A Greyhound bus transporting over thirty passengers collided with a truck while driving northward early one morning in Shasta Country, California. Two of the passengers were killed, and thirty-three individuals were injured, including the truck driver, Ellis Clark, and his passenger. Four of the injured passengers brought suit in California state courts, seeking over $1 million in damages. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co. (State Farm) (plaintiff), with whom Clark had an insurance policy, was named as one of the defendants. Under the policy, State Farm agreed to be liable for bodily injury up to $10,000 or $20,000 total per action, and for Clark’s attorneys’ fees pursuant to that action. State Farm brought an interpleader action in the United States District Court for the District of Oregon before any of the cases went to trial. State Farm paid into the court $20,000 and filed a complaint requesting, in part, that the court require all plaintiffs to establish their claims against State Farm in a single proceeding. The court issued an order requiring all the parties to show why they should not be restrained to bringing their claims in the same court pursuant to the same proceeding. The injunction was modified on motion to include Clark, State Farm, Greyhound, and the bus driver, resulting in suit only being proper against the parties within the interpleader proceeding. The court of appeals reversed on interlocutory appeal, finding that use of interpleader was improper in this instance. State Farm appealed, and the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

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