Testa v. Katt

330 U.S. 386 (1947)


The Emergency Price Control Act provides that a buyer of goods at above the prescribed ceiling price may sue the seller 'in any court of competent jurisdiction' for not more than three times the amount of the overcharge plus costs and a reasonable attorney's fee. The Act provides that federal district courts shall have jurisdiction of such suits 'concurrently with State and Territorial courts.' Such a suit under § 205 (e) must be brought 'in the district or county in which the defendant resides or has a place of business . . . .' Katt (D) sold a car to P for $210 over the ceiling price. Both P and D Providence. P sought under § 205 (e). The court awarded treble damages and costs. On de novo appeal to the State Superior Court P was again awarded judgment, but only for the amount of the overcharge plus attorney's fees. On appeal, the State Supreme Court reversed, in that §205 (e) was 'a penal statute in the international sense' and an action for violation of §205 (e) could not be maintained in the courts of the State. The Supreme Court granted certiorari.