MASSACHUSETTS BEN. ASS'N v. MILES.

137 U.S. 689 (11 S.Ct. 234, 34 L.Ed. 834)

MASSACHUSETTS BEN. ASS'N v. MILES.

Decided: January 19, 1891

Richard P. White, for defendant in error.

F. Carroll Brewster, for plaintiff in error.

BROWN, J.

Our jurisdiction to review this case upon writ of error depends upon the amount of the judgment, and the sole question is whether, upon the face of this record, the judgment is for $5,000 or for that amount with interest from the date of the verdict. Under the peculiar practice obtaining in Pennsylvania, the judgment was not entered up for a definite amount in dollars and cents, but, generally, 'in favor of the plaintiff, and against the defendant, on the verdict.' As the verdict was rendered 13 days before this entry, the amount actually due at the date of the judgment, if interest be computed upon the verdict, was $5,010.83. At common law neither verdicts nor judgments bore interest; but by Revised Statutes, § 966, 'interest shall be allowed on all judgments in civil causes, recovered in a circuit or district court, and may be levied by the marshal under process of execution issued thereon, in all cases where, by the law of the state in which such court is held, interest may be levied under process of execution on judgments recovered in the courts of such state, and it shall be calculated from the date of the judgment, at such rate as is allowed by law on judgments recovered in the courts of such state.' Did the case rest solely upon this statute, it is difficult to see how interest could be computed upon this verdict, inasmuch as the specific allowance of interest upon judgments would seem to exclude the inference that interest should be allowed upon on verdicts before judgment. But by an act of the legislature of Pennsylvania, passed in 1859, it is declared to 'be lawful for any party or parties in whose favor any verdict many be rendered for a specific sum of money to collect and receive interest upon such sum from the date of the verdict; and every general judgment entered upon such verdict, whether by a court of original jurisdiction or by the supreme court, shall be deemed and held to be a judgment for the sum found by the verdict, with interest thereon from the date of such finding.' W re gard this statute as settling the question in favor of our jurisdiction. Section 966, while providing only for interest upon judgments, does not exclude the idea of a power in the several states to allow interest upon verdicts, and, where such allowance is expressly made by a state statute, we consider it a right given to a successful plaintiff, of which he ought not to be deprived by a removal of his case to the federal court. The courts of the state and the federal courts sitting within the state should be in harmony upon this point. Both in Holden v. Trust Co., 100 U. S. 72, and in Ohio v. Frank, 103 U. S. 697, it was held that the question interest is always one of local law. This is also recognized in the twenty-third rule of this court, which allows interest upon the judgment of the inferior courts, at such rate as similar judgments bear interest in the courts of the state where such judgment is rendered, whenever upon writ of error from this court the judgment of such inferior court is affirmed. Where interest, antecedent to the judgment appealed from, is included in such judgment, and the amount, with the added interest, exceeds $5,000, jurisdiction will attach. The Patapsco, 12 Wall. 451; The Rio Grande, 19 Wall. 178; Zeckendorf v. Johnson, 123 U. S. 617, 8 Sup. Ct. Rep. 261; District of Columbia v. Gannon, 130 U. S. 227, 9 Sup. Ct. Rep. 508; New York Elevated Railroad v. Fifth Nat. Bank, 118 U. S. 608, 7 Sup. Ct. Rep. 23; Keller v. Ashford, 133 U. S. 610, 10 Sup. Ct. Rep. 494. The motion to dismiss will therefore be denied.

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