« PreviousContinue »
Opinion of the Court.
decree recited that the plaintiff had applied for the confirmation of the sale, that the sale had been made to Olcott and others, acting as a committee on the part of the bondholders, as purchasing trustees, that no exceptions to the report of the sale had been filed, and sufficient notice of the hearing of the application had been given to the solicitors of the parties to the cause; and the decree went on to confirm the sale and the report of sale, and to provide that the special master should execute a proper instrument in writing, conveying to the purchasers, as a committee acting on behalf of the bondholders, as purchasing trustees, all the property described in the decree of sale, and further provided as follows: “And it is further ordered, adjudged and decreed that the said purchasers shall take the said property, and that it be recited in said deed that they do take the said property, subject to, and that the said purchasers assume and pay off, any and all debts, claims and demands of whatsoever nature now pending and undetermined in either of the courts in which the original and ancillary bills in this cause are pending which may be allowed and adjudged by this court, or either of said courts where ancillary bills are pending, as prior to any right secured under said consolidated first mortgage, under foreclosure of which the said sale was made, and subject likewise to all debts, claims and demands of whatsoever nature incurred by Henry Fink, as receiver in this cause, and which may remain unpaid at the termination of said Fink's receivership.” It does not appear by the record whether such deed was given; but it is to be presumed that it was.
On the 2d of March, 1887, an intervening petition was filed in the cause by 0. B. Headrick, the appellee herein, alleging that he, on March 30, 1886, as a passenger upon one of the trains of the railroad operated by the receiver, had been seriously injured and permanently disabled, by reason of a colli. sion which occurred on the road, without fault on his part, but through the negligence of the agents and employés of the receiver; and he prayed for a judgment for damages for such injuries, and that the same might be paid out of one or the other of the following funds, alleged to be in the custody of
Opinion of the Court.
the court and still undistributed : “1st. The fund resulting from the operation of the road by the receiver and hitherto unappropriated. 2d. The funds hitherto in the hands of the receiver, which have been by him diverted from the expenses of the receivership and appropriated to the payment of the bonded indebtedness of the railroad company, defendant, and to the purchase of rolling stock for, and the permanent improvement of, said railroad property. 3d. The funds resulting from the operation of said railroad by said receiver, which were turned over to the purchasers of said railroad under the sale ordered thereof by this court in this cause. 4th. The obligation of the purchasers to pay for and discharge all the liabilities and obligations of the receiver, on all accounts, as a part of the terms of their purchase of the property."
To this petition it was answered, as a defence, that the petitioner's right of action, if any, was barred by the provisions of the decree of sale and the decree of confirmation, because the petition was not filed until after the lapse of six months after the decree was made confirming the sale. It was, in fact, filed more than eight months thereafter.
On the hearing of the petition by the Circuit Court, held by the circuit judge (Judge Jackson) and the district judge, (Judge Key,) their opinions were opposed on the following questions: “ 1st. Whether or not the petitioner was entitled to file said petition in said cause after the lapse of more than six (6) months after the entry of the decree confirming sale. 2d. Whether or not, under the decrees of sale, and confirmation of sale, plaintiff's action was barred. 3d. Whether or not the purchasers of the property were liable for any claim against the receiver presented to the court more than six (6) months after the decree of confirmation of the sale.” The opinion of the circuit judge was in favor of the petitioner, and judgment was entered accordingly; and the foregoing questions were certified to this court. The judgment was for $300 in favor of the petitioner, with costs, and against the receiver, but the judgment stated that, as the receiver had been discharged from further liability, and the purchasers took the property subject to, and assumed to pay, any and all claims
Opinion of the Court.
and demands of whatsoever nature, incurred by the receiver, it was adjudged that the purchasers pay the $500, and costs, to the petitioner.
We are of opinion that the first and third questions must be answered in the affirmative, and the second question in the negative; and that the judgment must be affirmed.
Although the decree of sale provided that all claims, debts, and demands accruing during the receivership should be barred unless presented within six months after the confirmation of the sale, yet the decree of confirmation provided that the purchasers should take the property, and that the deed should recite that they took it, subject to all debts, claims and demands, of whatsoever nature, incurred by the receiver, and which might remain unpaid at the termination of his receivership. It does not appear that the purchasers objected to the terms of the decree of confirmation, or appealed to this court from that decree. They might have done both, on the ground that the decree of confirmation varied from the terms of the decree of sale under which they had bought, in destroying the six months' limitation. It was uncertain, under the terms of the decree of sale, what claims might be presented within six months after the confirmation of the sale and be allowed by the court; and, as they became parties to the proceeding by their purchase, they should have seen to it that the terms of the decree of confirmation did not create still further uncertainty, by destroying the six months' limitation. The time of the confirmation of the sale was uncertain, and, inasmuch as the six months, by the decree of March 18, 1886, was to run from the confirmation of the sale, the purchasers were put upon inquiry to see that the term of six months was not varied by the decree of confirmation.
If the purchasers had objected to the decree of confirmation because it destroyed the six months' limitation, they could either have asked the court not to insert such a provision, and, on its refusal, have appealed to this court, or have declined to be bound by the sale, on the ground that the new terms varied from those contained in the decree of sale.
It was within the discretion of the court to abrogate the six
Opinion of the Court.
months' limitation, the fund being substantially a fund in court. Brooks v. Gibbons, 4 Paige, 374; Burchard v. Phillips, 11 Paige, 70; Grinnell v. Merchants’ Ins. Co., 1 C. E. Green (16 N. J. Eq.), 283; Lashley v. Hogg, 11 Vesey, 602; Hurley v. Murrell, 2 Tenn. Ch. 620. That being so, as the record does not show on what grounds the court acted, the presumption must be that it properly exercised its discretion.
The first and third questions are answered in the affirmative, and the second question in the negative, and the judg. ment is
ERROR TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK.
No. 78. Argued November 5, 1891. - Decided Norember 16, 1891.
Where an action at law was tried by a District Court without a jury, which
found the facts and conclusions of law, and entered judgment for the
the bill of exceptions, nor can this court do so, because the trial
was not hy a jury nor on an agreed statement of facts;
the District Court, and all that this court can do is to affirm the
The case is stated in the opinion.
Mr. George Bliss for plaintiff in error.
Mr. Solicitor General for defendant in error.
MR. JUSTICE BLATCHFORD delivered the opinion of the court.
Opinion of the Court.
On the 12th of March, 1885, the United States brought an action at law in the District Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York, against Lebbeus H. Rogers, to recover $12,000, with interest and costs, the principal sum being the amount of the penalty of a bond executed by Henry W. Howgate as principal, and Rogers and another person as sureties, on the 13th of March, 1878, which bond recited that Howgate, first lieutenant of the twentieth infantry, had been "assigned to duty as a property and disbursing officer, Signal Service, U. S. A.," and was conditioned that Howgate should at all times “during his holding and remaining in said office," carefully discharge the duties thereof, and faithfully expend all public money, and honestly account for the same and for all public property which should or might come into his hands “on account of Signal Service, U. S. Army, without fraud or delay."
The complaint alleged that Howgate entered upon the duties “of property and disbursing officer, Signal Service of the United States Army;" that, while acting as such officer, he did not carefully discharge the duties of his office, and faithfully expend all public moneys, and honestly account for the same, and for all public property which came into his hands on account of the Signal Service, U. S. Army," without fraud or delay, in this, that on divers dates during the years 1878, 1879 and 1880, while acting as such officer, he received from the United States, on account of the Signal Service of the United States Army, $133,255.22, which sum he did not faithfully expend and had not accounted for.
The answer of Rogers, besides denying the breaches of the bond alleged in the complaint, set up that the bond was executed, taken and delivered without authority of law and in violation of law.
The parties filed a written stipulation waiving the right of trial by jury, and consenting that the cause be tried by the court without a jury. It was so tried, before Judge Brown. In April, 1887, he filed findings of fact, which stated that he had “heard the testimony of the witnesses.” Those findings of fact were as follows: