Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

SEARS v. MACKEY ET AL.

decided: June 11, 1956.

SEARS, ROEBUCK & CO
v.
MACKEY ET AL.



CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SEVENTH CIRCUIT.

Warren, Black, Reed, Frankfurter, Douglas, Burton, Clark, Minton, Harlan

Author: Burton

[ 351 U.S. Page 428]

 MR. JUSTICE BURTON delivered the opinion of the Court.

This action, presenting multiple claims for relief, was brought by Mackey and another in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, in 1953. The court expressly directed that judgment be entered for the defendant, Sears, Roebuck & Co., on two, but less than all, of the claims presented. It also expressly determined that there was no just reason for delay in making the entry. After Mackey's notice of appeal from that judgment to the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, Sears, Roebuck & Co. moved to dismiss the appeal for lack of appellate jurisdiction. The Court of Appeals upheld its jurisdiction and denied the

[ 351 U.S. Page 429]

     motion, relying upon 28 U. S. C. § 1291 and Rule 54 (b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended in 1946. 218 F.2d 295. Because of the importance of the issue in determining appellate jurisdiction and because of a conflict of judicial views on the subject,*fn1 we granted certiorari. 348 U.S. 970. For the reasons hereafter stated, we sustain the Court of Appeals and its appellate jurisdiction.

Although we are here concerned with the present appealability of the judgment of the District Court and not with its merits, we must examine the claims stated in the complaint so as to consider adequately the issue of appealability.

The complaint contains six counts. We disregard the fifth because it has been abandoned and the sixth because it duplicates others. The claims stated in Counts I and II are material and have been dismissed without leave to amend. The claim contained in Count III and that in amended Count IV are at issue on the answers filed by Sears, Roebuck & Co. The appeal before us is from a

[ 351 U.S. Page 430]

     judgment striking out Counts I and II without disturbing Counts III and IV, and the question presented is whether such a judgment is presently appealable when the District Court, pursuant to amended Rule 54 (b), has made "an express determination that there is no just reason for delay" and has given "an express direction for the entry of judgment."

In Count I, Mackey, a citizen of Illinois, and Time Saver Tools, Inc., an Illinois corporation owned by Mackey, are the original plaintiffs and the respondents here. Sears, Roebuck & Co., a New York corporation doing business in Illinois, is the original defendant and the petitioner here. Mackey charges Sears with conduct violating the Sherman Antitrust Act in a manner prejudicial to three of Mackey's commercial ventures causing him $190,000 damages, for which he seeks $570,000 as treble damages. His first charge is unlawful destruction by Sears, since 1949, of the market for nursery lamps manufactured by General Metalcraft Company, a corporation wholly owned by Mackey. Mackey claims that this caused him a loss of $150,000. His second charge is unlawful interference by Sears, in 1952, with Mackey's contract to sell, on commission, certain tools and other products of the Vascoloy-Ramet Corporation, causing Mackey to lose $15,000. His third charge is unlawful destruction by Sears, in 1952, of the market for a new type of carbide-tipped lathe bit and for other articles manufactured by Time Saver Tools, Inc., resulting in a loss to Mackey of $25,000. Mackey combines such charges with allegations that Sears has used its great size to monopolize commerce and restrain competition in these fields. He asks for damages and equitable relief.

In Count II, Mackey claims federal jurisdiction by virtue of diversity of citizenship. He incorporates the allegations of Count I as to the Metalcraft transactions and asks for $250,000 damages for Sears' wilful destruction

[ 351 U.S. Page 431]

     of the business of Metalcraft, plus $50,000 for Mackey's loss on obligations guaranteed by him.

In Count III, Mackey seeks $75,000 in a common-law proceeding against Sears for unlawfully inducing a breach of his Vascoloy commission contract.

In Count IV, Time Saver seeks $200,000 in a common-law proceeding against Sears for unlawfully destroying Time Saver's business by unfair competition and patent infringement.

The jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals to entertain Mackey's appeal from the District Court's judgment depends upon 28 U. S. C. § 1291, which provides that "The courts of appeals shall have jurisdiction of appeals from all final decisions of the district courts of the United States . . . ." (Emphasis supplied.)

If Mackey's complaint had contained only Count I, there is no doubt that a judgment striking out that count and thus dismissing, in its entirety, the claim there stated would be both a final and an appealable decision within the meaning of § 1291. Similarly, if his complaint had contained Counts I, II, III and IV, there is no doubt that a judgment striking out all four would be a final and appealable decision under § 1291. The controversy before us arises solely because, in this multiple claims action, the District Court has dismissed the claims stated in Counts I and II, but has left unadjudicated those stated in Counts III and IV.*fn2

Before the adoption of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure in 1939, such a situation was generally regarded as leaving the appellate court without jurisdiction of an attempted appeal. It was thought that, although the judgment was a final decision on the respective claims in Counts I and II, it obviously was not a final decision of

[ 351 U.S. Page 432]

     the whole case, and there was no authority for treating anything less than the whole case as a judicial unit for purposes of appeal.*fn3 This construction of the judicial unit was developed from the common law which had dealt with ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.