aforementioned act, we were compelled to determine liability on a factual basis.
Congress, through the Bankruptcy Act § 2, sub. a(7), has conferred original jurisdiction upon the District Court to collect and to hear controversies relating to the estate of the bankrupt 'except as herein otherwise provided.' 11 U.S.C.A. § 11, sub. a(7). The Supreme Court has held in Williams v. Austrian, 331 U.S. 642, 644, 67 S. Ct. 1443, 91 L. Ed. 1718 (1947), that the above-quoted exception refers to § 23, sub. b which requires that 'Suits by the receiver and trustee shall be brought or prosecuted only in the courts where the bankrupt might have brought or prosecuted them if proceedings under this Act had not been instituted, unless by consent of the defendant * * *.' (Emphasis supplied) It has been further held by the Supreme Court that if the consent of the defendant is shown, no independent ground of Federal jurisdiction need be present.
'The Congress, by virtue of its constitutional authority over bankruptcies, * * * could confer or withhold jurisdiction to entertain such suits and could prescribe the conditions upon which the federal courts should have jurisdiction. * * * Exercising that power, the Congress prescribed in section 23b the condition of consent on the part of the defendant sued by the trustee.' Schumacher v. Beeler, 293 U.S. 367, 374, 55 S. Ct. 230, 233, 79 L. Ed. 433 (1934) reaffirmed in Williams v. Austrian, 331 U.S. 642, 652, 653, 67 S. Ct. 1443 (1947). Also see National Mut. Ins. Co. v. Tidewater Transfer Co., 337 U.S. 582, 594-599, 69 S. Ct. 1173, 93 L. Ed. 1556 (1949) discussion by Mr. Justice Jackson of § 23, sub. b.
In reaching this conclusion the Supreme Court adopted the rationale of § 23, sub. b as set forth by the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Toledo Fence & Post Co. v. Lyons, 290 F. 637, 640, 646 (1923). In this case the court found that the defendant 'tacitly acquiesced' to the jurisdiction of the District Court when it was heard on the merits regarding a preliminary motion. In so finding consent under § 23, sub. b the Court made the following observation at p. 646:
'We must observe, too, the not uncommon practice by which adverse parties, who are entitled under section 23 to insist that they be sued only in the state court, have voluntarily appeared and submitted their rights to the federal district court in a plenary suit by the trustee, thus joining in the common endeavor to get a speedy decision of all questions by one court. It would seem unfortunate if it must be held that such submissions to the jurisdiction have been ineffective.'
Another case considering this question, May v. Moss, 194 F.2d 133, 137 (8 Cir. 1952), held that an answer to the merits fulfilled the consent requirement of § 23, sub. b. Also, in Detroit Trust Co. v. Pontiac Savings Bank, 196 F. 29, 32 (6 Cir. 1912) aff'd 237 U.S. 186, 35 S. Ct. 509, 59 L. Ed. 907 (1915), a trustee sued the defendant bank to recover certain sums of money. The complaint was defective as to jurisdiction unless the bank consented. The defendant appeared generally and answered to the merits. After the bank had taken some testimony it challenged the jurisdiction of the court by contending that § 23, sub. b requires consent before the suit is filed. This argument was specifically rejected, and the Court held that consent is presumed when the defendant appears generally and answers to the merits. Such conduct acts as a waiver of any objections which the defendant may have.
In all of the cited cases ordinary Federal jurisdiction based upon diversity of citizenship and amount was lacking. The initial pleading in all of these plenary actions
gave no advance notice to the defendant that § 23, sub. b would be relied upon. In spite of these facts where the defendant answered, filed a counterclaim or was heard on the merits, consent to the jurisdiction of the District Court was imputed to the defendant.
Turning to the instant case, the Complaint in its caption identifies the plaintiffs as Receivers. Paragraph one of the pleading asserts that the plaintiffs are suing in their capacity as Receivers. Paragraph two recites the authority of the Receivers to sue pursuant to the Order of the Referee in Bankruptcy. All of these allegations are admitted by the defendant in its Answer to the merits which also demanded proof of the plaintiff's claim at trial of the cause (Paragraph 2:06 Document 17).
Furthermore, this defendant filed a counterclaim for $ 249,000 and a supplemental answer on August 14, 1962. Pretrial memoranda were submitted, and a conference was held on April 9, 1963.
Thereafter, a thorough and exhaustive trial on the merits was conducted for four days on all claims complete with post-trial motions for a new trial,
a judgment N.O.V., and requests for amended findings of fact and conclusions of law.
On appeal from our denial of its motion for judgment N.O.V., McCloskey remained silent on the jurisdictional question raises sua sponte by the Circuit Court of Appeals.
Therefore, in view of the foregoing actions on the part of the defendant, we find that McCloskey waived its objection to the jurisdiction of the District Court and manifested its complete consent as required by Section 23, sub. b of the Bankruptcy Act.
And now, this 8th day of October, 1964, it is ordered: that the District Court has jurisdiction of this case for the reasons set forth in this opinion;
It is further ordered that this order and opinion along with documents nos. 58, 59, 60 and 61 are certified to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit as supplemental parts of the record in this case.
SUPPLEMENTAL OPINION AND ORDER
WOOD, District Judge.
After filing our decision in this matter on October 8, 1964, an additional case directly in point has come to our attention. We believe it to be of sufficient importance to warrant its consideration in conjunction with our original opinion in this case.
In Harris v. Standard Accident and Insurance Company, 297 F.2d 627, 629, 630 (2 Cir. 1961) cert. denied, 369 U.S. 843, 82 S. Ct. 875, 7 L. Ed. 2d 847 (1962), the Court of Appeals For The Second Circuit held that the District Court had jurisdiction under § 23, sub. b. This case concerned a suit by a trustee in bankruptcy to recover damages for the insurance company's refusal, allegedly in bad faith, to settle a personal injury action brought against the bankrupt.
The Appellate Court noted that the Complaint failed to plead the corporation's principal place of business. Also, the record did not disclose facts upon which diversity jurisdiction could rest. Neither the parties nor the District Court discussed the jurisdictional question until the Circuit Court raised the point on appeal. In finding jurisdiction under § 23, sub. b the Court stated 297 F.2d at p. 630, note 2:
'The courts have held that a defendant consents if he argues the merits without objection to jurisdiction.'
And now, this 30th day of October, 1964, it is ordered that this Supplemental Opinion be and hereby is certified to the United States Court of Appeals For The Third Circuit as a supplemental part of the record in this matter.