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U.S. Supreme Court

Willing v. Chicago Auditorium Association, 277 U.S. 274 (1928)

Willing v. Chicago Auditorium Association

No. 561

Argued April 19, 20, 1928

Decided May 21, 1928

277 U.S. 274


A corporation which had constructed and maintained a very expensive commercial building on ground leased to it for long-terms, finding chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 277 U. S. 275

the income inadequate to pay profit on the investment, and desiring to substitute on the same ground a larger building of modern type, but feeling that, under the terms of the leases, it could not remove the existing structure without the lessors' consent, brought suit against them and the trustees for its bondholders for the purpose of establishing its right to do so, praying also that the defendants be restrained from taking any steps to prevent such removal. Held that the suit could not be maintained in a federal court, for:

1. The doubt of the plaintiff's right, arising only on the face of the leases by which it derived title, was not in legal contemplation a cloud, and a bill to remove it as such would not lie. P. 277 U. S. 288.

2. Relief by declaratory judgment is beyond the jurisdiction of the federal judiciary. P. 277 U. S. 289.

3. The proceeding was not a case or controversy within the meaning of Art. III of the Constitution, since no defendant had wronged or threatened to wrong the plaintiff and no cause of action arose from the thwarting of the plaintiff's plan by its own doubts or by the fears of others. Id.

4. A removed proceeding which is not a suit within the meaning of Jud.Code § 28 must be remanded by the federal court even though the remedy sought may be one conferred by state law or statute. P. 290.

20 F.2d 837 reversed.

Certiorari, 275 U.S. 519, to a decree of the circuit court of appeals, which reversed a decree of the district court, 8 F.2d 998, dismissing the bill of the Auditorium Association. The suit was said to be in the nature of a suit to remove a cloud from title, and was begun originally in the state court. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 277 U. S. 283

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