U.S. Supreme Court
Mandeville v. Riggs, 27 U.S. 2 Pet. 482 482 (1829)
Mandeville v. Riggs
27 U.S. (2 Pet.) 482
Where a bill was filed against the stockholders of a voluntary association for the purposes of banking, and the process was returned "served" upon some of the parties named in the bill, and as to others who were not within the reach of the process "not found," the Court stated that it was not meant to say that in cases of this nature it is necessary to bring all the stockholders before the
court before any decree can be made. It well known that there are cases in which a court of equity dispenses with such a proceeding when the parties are very numerous and unknown, and the adoption of the rule should evidently impede if not defeat the purposes of justice.
Upon the death of some of the parties to the bill who had been served with, process, the bill ought to have been revived against their personal representatives if they could be brought before the court, unless same good reason such as absolute in insolvency could be assigned to justify the decision.
One of the great principles which courts of equity generally require all parties who are known and within the reach of its jurisdiction to be made parties is to prevent future litigation and to take away multiplicity of suits. There are exceptions, it is true, to the rule, but they are founded upon special considerations.
We know of no instances where a joint liability has been asserted before a court of chancery on which the decree has not been made against all the parties before it who did not establish some personal discharge.
In a bill filed in the Circuit Court of Alexandria County in the District of Columbia against the stockholders of an association for banking purposes, the bill was dismissed as to those stockholders who were named in the bill, but were not served with process, and it was held to be error. As nonresidents, the Act of Congress of 3 May, 1803, allows proceedings to be had against them by publication in the newspapers in the District.
Where an appeal from the circuit court to this Court was prayed by a number of the defendants and one only executed the proper appeal bond, the objection to the proceedings ought to have been taken by way of preliminary motion to dismiss the appeal for irregularity on account of the failure to give the proper appeal bond.
In July, 1818, a bill was filed by the appellee against certain individuals named in the subpoena charging them with having entered into a certain association or co-partnership, called "the Merchants' Bank of Alexandria." That the partnership for a considerable time issued notes chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
and bills, and in other respects prosecuted their trading or business as a bank until about the month of May, 1816, at which time they became so embarrassed as entirely to put a stop to their proceedings. The bill then alleges that sundry notes or bills of various denominations and amounts, issued and sent into circulation by the bank during its operations, amounting in the whole to $20,000, regularly came into the possession of the complainant, and that no part of them has been paid. The bill proceeds to present other facts and proceedings upon which the complainant claimed relief, and concludes with a demand for general relief.
The process was served on twenty-two of the stockholders and defendants. the whole number being sixty-one. An alias subpoena having issued, the marshal returned, as to the others "not found; nonresidents in the County of Alexandria." On 13 August, 1818, a pluries subpoena was issued on which the marshal returned, "executed on John McPherson, the other defendants not found."
In November, 1818, the bill was taken for confessed as to those defendants on whom process had been served and who had not answered, and continued as to the others.
At May rules, 1820, and at November term, 1820, the suit was abated as to such of the deceased defendants upon whom the process was executed, and no proceedings were instituted to bring in their legal representatives. The answers of some of the defendants who were served with process having been filed, depositions taken, reports of the auditor made and the arguments of counsel heard, the court went on to decree the payment of certain sums to the complainant by the parties thus before the court, apportioning the same according to the time they became stockholders in the bank and the periods of issuing the notes held by the complainant. The bill was dismissed as to the other defendants who did not answer and also as to all those who were either not served with process to appear in the cause or who were served with process and not charged by any evidence on the part of the complainant.
The defendants against whom the decree was rendered prayed an appeal to this Court which was allowed on their chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
giving bond and security, &c. Joseph Mandeville alone, of all the defendants, gave bond to prosecute the appeal.
It is not considered necessary to state in this report any of the points presented by counsel upon which no opinion was expressed by the court, and therefore those proceedings in the case and matters set forth in the bill, answers, and evidence, which are not connected with or required to exhibit the only question decided by the court, and the arguments of the counsel upon them, are omitted.