Sidor som bilder

Opinion of the court.

think the evidence in this case clearly shows that neither party to the deed understood that the vendor intended to take the note of Hood, Sr., and Hood, Jr., as a substitute for the lien. The only evidence we have bearing directly upon the subject is in the testimony of Shields. To some extent he does undoubtedly confound his own impressions with what occurred when the notes were given. But we think it may fairly be deduced from his statements that there was no intention then to waive the lien, which the law implied from the terms of the deed. He is unable to state why the son's name was signed in conjunction with the father's, but he is positive that the additional siguature was simply a gratuity not called for by the contract nor altering it. He states also there never was any question between bimself and his vendee respecting a vendor's lien, adding, it being considered, of course, that his obligation of warranty in the deed would only be made perfect or complete upon the payment of the whole amount of the purchase-money. And that taking the notes as they were taken was not intended as a waiver of a vendor's lien, or at least that it was not understood by the vendee to be such a waiver, is placed beyond doubt by what took place afterwards, on the 1st of April, 1860. There the renewed note was given for a part of the original purchase-money, and it “was positively and unequivocally stipulated and agreed by the vendor and vendee” that the original lien was retained, that the land should continue liable as before. How could this be, if the lien had been waived? Waiver is a thing of intention as well as of action, and it is impossible to believe, in view of this testimony, there was an intention to give up the security of the land. Were this a bill to enforce the lien against the lands in the hands of Hood, the purchaser, it would not be permitted to him to assert that the vendor had, from the first, relied only upon the personal security taken.

And Scroggin and Hanna, the purchasers from Hood, are in no better position. They are not bonâ fide purchasers without notice. As we have seen, the lien for the purchase

Opinion of the court.

money was apparent in the line of their title. The deed from Shields to Hood informed them that the consideration was unpaid. It imposed upon them the duty of inquiring whether it remained unpaid when they were about to make their purchase.* Wherever inquiry is a duty, the party bound to make it is affected with knowledge of all which he vould have discovered had he performed the duty. Means of knowiedge with the duty of using them are, in equity, equivalent to knowledge itself. Had inquiry been made of the vendor, it would easily have been ascertained that a portion of the purchase-money remained unpaid. Inquiry of Hood, the debtor, if any such inquiry was made, was au idle ceremony. The deed pointed to the person from whom purchasers from Hood were bound to seek information.

It has been suggested in the argument on behalf of the appellees, that taking up the original note, and giving another note for an unpaid balance of the first, may have terminated the lien if any existed. Undoubtedly no agreement made in 1860, when the new uote was given, created a vendor's lien for its security. But the original lien was for all the purchase-money, and for every part of it so long as it remained unpaid. It was not merely security for the notes first given; it was for the debt of which the notes were evidence. Giving the new wote was not payment of the debt, it was only a change of the evidence, and, therefore, the fact that it was given did not affect the lien. In Mims v. Lockett, it was held that if a vendor of laud takes a note for the price, and subsequently renews it, adding in the new note a sum of money due him by the vendee on a different account, his vendor's lien will not be invalidated thereby.

It has been further argued that even if Shields, the vendor, might have enforced a lien against the land had he continued to hold the note, Bartlett, his assignee, cannot. It is contended that a vendor's lien is a personal right of the vendor himself, not assignable. And hence that the assignee of a note given for the purchase-money cannot resort in equity

* McAlpine v. Burnett, 23 Texas, 649.

† 23 Georgia, 237.


to the land sold. It must be admitted that such is the doctrine of very many cases, perhaps of those which have been best considered, though there are many well-reasoned judgments to the contrary. But we think, for the purposes of the present case, the law, as held by the Supreme Court of Texas, must furnish the rule of decision. And the decisions of that court appear to be that an assignment of the notes given for purchase-money carries with it the lien to the assignee.*

It has been held that in order to enforce a vendor's lien, the bill must show that the complainant bas exhausted his remedy at law against the personal estate of the vendee, or must show that he cannot have an adequate remedy at law. And this bill makes no such showing. But in Texas, as in some other States, the creditor may proceed in the first instance to enforce the lien in equity.t

Upon the whole, then, we think the Circuit Court erred in dismissing the complainant's bill. He was entitled to a decree.

DECREE REVERSED, and the case remitted with instructions to enter a decree for the complainant against Scroggin and Hanna, the appellees and defendants below.


1. When the Court of Claims, on a claim embracing several items, rejects

some but allows others, against which allowance the United States alone appeals, this court will not give consideration to the items rejected and against whose rejection the claimant has not appealed, except so far as

may be necessary for a proper understanding of the item allowed. 2. Where a lessee, after letting to another, reserving a rent, bas assigned

all his “right, title, and interest" in the lease, and “authorized the assignee to sue for, collect, and recover the lease, and the rights to the rent reserved under the same," declaring “it to be distinctly under

* Moore v. Raymond, 15 Texas, 554; Watt v. White, 33 Id. 425.
+ McAlpine v. Burnett, 19 Texas, 497.

Statement of the case.

stood” that it is the object and purpose to put the assignee in his "place and stead, so far as concerns his rights under the lease"—the lessee, on a claim against him by the sub-tenant, cannot set up a claim for arrears of rent due to him at the time when he assigned the lease. The transfer has carried them to the assignee.

APPEAL from the Court of Claims; the case being thus:

In July, 1851, the Secretary of the Treasury, on behalf of the United States, agreed with one Eldredge, to lease from him certain warehouses in the city of San Francisco for the term of ten years. The reut for the first two years was fixed at $6000 per month, and it was agreed that at the expiration of every two years thereafter the secretary should have the privilege of having the rent tixed for the ensuing two years by a commission, of which the secretary should appoint one member, Eldredge another, and that the two thus selected should choose a third.

In February, 1856, the United States desiring to “get clear of this lease,” the collector of the port of San Fraycisco, by authority of the Secretary of the Treasury, entered into an agreement with one Hickey, by which the United States leased to him the warehouses mentioned, during the term of the lease first mentioned. Hickey agreed to pay $500 per month until the 1st of May following (that is to say, till the 1st of May, 1856, at which time an appraisement was to be made as by the terms of the original lease), and to pay thereafter to the United States the sum which should be awarded to Eldredge for the two years ensuing, and after that time to pay such sum as should be awarded from time to time for the terms of two years thereafter ensuing:

“Provided, nevertheless, that the sum of $250 per calendar month is hereby saved and reserved to the said Hickey during the term of the aforesaid lease, as a bonus to him,

to be paid at the expiration of each month, . . . monthly until the completion of the same.”

Under this agreement Hickey paid rent as agreed until May, 1856.

He then appointed one person to appraise the

Statement of the case.

future rent. The secretary appointed another. They failed to agree, and failed to appoint an umpire; and the Secretary of the Treasury, although receiving notice of such failure, took no further steps in the matter.

On the 13th of April, 1857, difficulties and disputes having arisen between the government and Eldredge concerning the amount of rents lawfully demandable by Eldredge from the government, the secretary, without the knowledge of Hickey, entered into an agreement with Eldredge by which the United States transferred and assigned to him “all their right and title and interest in and'to the said lease, and authorized him to sue for, collect, and recover the Hickey lease, and the rights to the rent reserved under the same," and agreed to pay him $110,000 in satisfaction of all future claims for rent under the original lease; this conveyance adding to its terms of assignment and transfer these words:

“It being distinctly understood that it is the object and purpose of this agreement to put the said Eldredge in the place and stead of the United States, so far as concerns the rights of the United States under the lease aforesaid.”

In August of the same year Eldredge took proceedings in the courts of California against Hickey for non-payment of rent on the lease, and in November dispossessed him of the premises.

In this state of things Hickey filed a petition in the Court of Claims, in which he alleged that the United States were indebted to him upou three items:

1. His bonus of $250 per calendar month, reserved, and extending, as he alleged, through a term of six years, $18,000.

2. For damages in the breaking up of his business by the eviction, against which he asserted his right to be indemnified by the United States, $28,000.

3. For storage of goods belonging to the United States during the years 1856 and 1857, the sum of $1370. The claim was for storage while Hickey was in possession of the warehouses as above mentioned.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »