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U.S. Supreme Court

Bradley v. Rhines' Administrators, 75 U.S. 8 Wall. 393 393 (1869)

Bradley v. Rhines' Administrators

75 U.S. (8 Wall.) 393


1. In a suit brought by the assignee of a chose in action in the federal court on the contract so assigned, it is necessary that plaintiff shall show affirmatively that such action could have been sustained if brought by the original obligee.

2. The burden of proof in such case is on the plaintiff, when the instrument and its assignment are offered under the plea of the general issue.

Section eleven of the Judiciary Act of 1789, which defines the jurisdiction of the circuit courts as regards citizenship, after declaring that no person shall be sued in any other district than that of which he is an inhabitant, or in which he shall be found at the service of the writ, adds:

"Nor shall any district or circuit court have cognizance of any suit to recover the contents of any promissory note or other chose in action, in favor of an assignee unless a suit might have been prosecuted in such court to recover the said contents if no assignment had been made, except in cases of foreign bills of exchange."

With this provision in force, Bradley sued the administrators of one Rhines in the court below, describing himself in the declaration as a citizen of Kentucky, and alleging the defendants, whom he described as administrators, to be citizens of Pennsylvania. He declared in a special count on a contract of lease and in two common counts for money had and received by defendants' intestate to plaintiff's use, and for money laid out and expended at his request. The chanrobles.com-red

Page 75 U. S. 394

lease, which was set out in the declaration, was made by Breeden & Co., described as of Elk County, Pennsylvania, as lessors, and Andrew Hines and Hiram Carmen, lessees, and it was alleged that Breeden & Co. had assigned the lease to the plaintiff.

A trial was had before a jury on the plea of the general issue, in which the plaintiff offered in evidence the lease, its execution and assignment being admitted by defendants. The court refused to admit the lease in evidence, and the plaintiff took a bill of exceptions to the ruling. As the lease was the foundation, so to speak, of the plaintiff's action, the plaintiff, after its rejection by the court, offered no further evidence, and verdict and judgment went for the defendant. The ruling of the court just mentioned was the error assigned. chanrobles.com-red

Page 75 U. S. 395


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