Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

Statement of the case.

writing, “bargained and sold to G. M. Hood” (both parties. being of Texas) a tract of land in that State, described, “ for the sum of $27,000, to be paid by the said Hood as follows.” Certain drafts and notes to be given by Hood were then specified; among the notes one for $9000, payable at the Union Bank, New Orleans, April 9th, 1862. The deed ended with a covenant that “on the completion of the payments before mentioned" Shields would warrant and defend the premises to Hood, bis heirs and assigns, against all persons lawfully claiming or to claim them. In point of fact, when the papers came to be executed, the notes were signed not only by Hood, the purchaser, but also by his son, G. M. Hood, Jr. On the 1st of April, 1862, before thé note that became due on the 9th matured, Hood, Sr., called on Shields ·and stated to him that he had some surplus cash with which he desired to pay a part of it off. Shields accordingly took his money, and a new note was executed for the balance; the old note being given up. The new note, like the old one had been, was made payable April 9th, 1862, and at the Union Bank, New Orleans. This new note Shields afterwards (in the autumn of 1862) assigned to one Bartlett.

In May, 1863, Hood sold the land to two persous, named Scroggin and Hanna; and Bartlett having become bankrupt, his assignee in bankruptcy, one Cordova, now filed a bill in the court below against both the Hoods, Scroggin, and Hanna, to enforce the lien. The bill did not allege that the complainant had exhausted his remedy at law against Hood, the vendee of the laud, who, or whose estate in point of fact, appeared to be solvent.

The IIoods let a decree pass pro confesso. Scroggin and Hanna set up in answer, or in argument, that all vendor's lien had been waived by taking Hood, Jr., as a party, who, not being interested, was a surety on the notes; that even if any lien had existed under or by virtue of the note of $9000, such lien was waived when that note was paid, as in law it was completely when it was surrendered; the transaction having been not a credit on an old debt, of so much cash paid, but an acceptance of cash and of a new

Statement of the case.

debt, accompanied by an annihilation and extinction of the old one; that, at any rate, however all this might be as between Shields and Hood, they, Scroggiu and Hanna, were purchasers, bona fide and without notice of any lien; that further, if Shields, the vendoi, might bimself have enforced a lien against the land, had he continued to hold the note and debt, the right of enforcement was a right personal to him, and that it did not pass to Bartlett, bis assignee, and as little certainly to Cordova, assignee in a second remove.

Shields, who was examined, thus testified:

"The recital in the instrument executed to G. M. Hood, Sr., on the 4th of March, 1850, corresponds with the facts, except that the name of G. M. Hood, Jr., was also signed to the notes. The land was sold to Mr. Hood, Sr., and his responsibility, coupled with a vendor's lien, secured by the regular form and terms of the instrument, was deemed by me a sufficient security. Mr. Hood, Jr., accompanied his father to my house, and was represented by his father to be his agent. I do not remember why it was that Mr. Hood, Jr.'s, name was signed to the notes. Tbe deed or instrument was prepared, to the best of my recol. lection, before the notes, and in the absence of Mr. Hood; the notes, after the arrival of Mr. Hood and son. Their joint signatures was probably a suggestion of the moment and did not alter or take from the facts recited in the instrument. Mr. Hood, Sr., did execute the notes to secure the payment of the amounts, and at the time, and for the considerations mentioned in the deed. The additional signature of Hood, Jr., was simply that much more; a gratuity not called for by nor altering the contract. Mr. Hood, Sr., was represented, by those who knew bim in Eastern Texas, to be a wealthy man. His son was considered responsible and trustworthy as far as I know. The reason for not taking a mortgage is shown by the terms of the instrument, by which the venuor's lien is plainly retained and held. I have no recollection of who was present when the terms of the instrument securing the vendor's lien were discussed, if discussed at all. There never was any question between us on that point; it being considered, of course, that my obligation of warranty in the instrument would only be made perfect or complete upon the payment of the whole amount of the purchase-money.

Statement of the case.

“The payment of a portion of the note of $9000 in advance, and taking another note, was simply a matter of convenience, and not intended, in any manner, or to any extent whatever, to impair or affect the lien retained by the terms of the instrument to secure the payment of the whole amount of the purchase-money. It was positively and unequivocally so stipulated and agreed between us at the time of the execution of the said note of $5015; 80 stated and understood, without question, between us.

“ Tho note was traded to Bartlett, with the statement from me that it was secured by a vendor's lien on the land sold to Hood, Sr. I will further state that I believed at the time that Mr. Bartlett had special reference to that fact in the transaction, and tbat he felt that the note of G. M. Hood, Sr., to secure the remainder of the last payment for the land, with the right of the vendor's lien upon said land, was safer for him (Bartlett) than cotton, which he gave me for it; then liable at any moment to impressment.

“Both Handa and Scroggin spoke to me, some time sinceperbaps 1868 or 1869-in reference to the terms of sale by me to Hood. I gave them such information as my recollection of the facts warranted. One of them, and perhaps both, stated that they had been informed by Mr. Hood that he had paid the whole amount of the purchase-money; in reply to which I gave them true information, as nearly as I could. At the time there was more than $9000 due.”

Bartlett was also examined. He said :

" When Shields sold the note to me, he told me distinctly and positively that it was secured by a lien on the land. This was perfectly understood between us. I relied on this lien when I purchased it."

Scroggin and Hanna were also both examined. They testified that Hood, Sr., was one of the wealthy men in Texas; that they supposed that the land had been sold to him on his personal responsibility; that with his own lips he declared to them that every dollar was paid on the land; that they had never heard of any lien. It appeared, however, on cross-examination that they had seen the record of the deed of March 4th, 1859, from Shields to Hood, before purchasing

Opinion of the court.

from Hood, and had had it examined by their professional adviser for their own" protection."

The court below confirmed the decree so far as the bill was confessed, but dismissed it as against Scroggin and Hanna. From that decree Cordova took this.appeal.

Messrs. Conway Robinson, W. G. Hale, and R. T. Merrick, for the appellants; Mr. G. F. Moore, contra.

Mr. Justice STRONG delivered the opinion of the court.

The appellees must be held to have had notice of whatever equities were revealed in the line of their title. They claim through a conveyance from Hood, Sr., who had purchased from Shields in 1859, and the deed from Shields plainly exhibited the fact that the purchase-money remained to be paid. It contained not even a receipt for the consideration of the sale. In form it was a deed of bargain and sale, but there was not enough in it to show that the use was executed in the vendee. On the contrary, it recites a consideration “ to be paidin instalments at subsequent dates, for which a draft and notes were given. That the vendor, by such a deed, had a lien for the unpaid purchase-money, as against the vendee and those holding under him with notice, unless the lien was waived, is the recognized doctrine of Euglish chancery, and Texas is one of the States in which the doctrine has been adopted.* It is a general principle that a vendor of land, though he has made an absolute couveyance by deed, and though the consideration is in the instrument expressed to be paid, has an equitable lien for the unpaid purchase-money, unless there has been au express or an implied waiver of it. And this lien will be enforced in equity against the vendee and all persons holding under him, except bonâ fide purchasers, without notice.t With greater reason, it would seem, should such a lien exist and be enforced when, as in this case, the deed,

* Osborn v. Cummings, 4 Texas, 13;, Neel v. Prickett, 12 Id. 138; BrisPoe v. Bronaugh, 1 Id. 326.

+ Mackreth v. Symmons, 15 Vesey, 329.

Opinion of the court.

instead of containing a receipt for the purchase-money, expressly states that it remains unpaid.

The important question to be considered, therefore, is whether the lien has been waived. That there was no express waiver by Shields at the time when his deed to Hond was made and delivered, or at any subsequent time, is not only not proved, but is plainly disproved. Shields himself has testitied that the lien was never released by him, and that when the note of his vendee for $5015 was taken for the unpaid portion of the larger note given at the time of the sale, it was with the distinct understanding between him and Hood that the payment then made, and the execution of the note for the balance, made no difference whatever respecting the vendor's lien to secure the balance, but “that the land should continue just as liable to secure payment of said balance as before.”

It remains then to inquire whether there was any implied waiver of a lien. When the deed was made the vendor took for the purchase-money promissory notes signed not only by Hood, the vendee, but by Hood, Jr., his son. Had the notes been signed by the vendee alone no implication of an intent to waive a vendor's lien could have arisen. It is everywhere ruled that where such a lien is recognized at all it is not affected by the vendor's taking the bond or bill single of the vendee, or his negotiable promissory vote, or his check, if not presented or if unpaid, or any instrument involving merely his personal liability.* It is true that, taking a note or a bond from the vendee with a surety, has generally been held evidence of an intention to rely exclusively upon the personal security taken, and therefore, presumptively, to be an abandonment or waiver of a lien. But this raises only a presumption, open to rebuttal by evidence that such was not the intention of the parties. † And we

* See numerous cases collected in note 1, Leading Cases in Equity, Hare & Wallace, 235, under the case of Mackreth v. Symmons.

† Campbell v. Baldwin, 2 Humphreys, 248, 258; Marshall v. Christmas, 3 Id. 616; Mims v. Railroad Co., 3 Kelley, 333 ; Griffin v. Blanchar, 17 California, 70; Parker v. Sewell, 24 Texas, 238; Dibblee v. Mitchell, 15 Indiana, 435.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »