Heryford v. Davis
102 U.S. 235

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U.S. Supreme Court

Heryford v. Davis, 102 U.S. 235 (1880)

Heryford v. Davis

102 U.S. 235

Syllabus

1. In Missouri, where personal chattels have been sold and delivered, the vendee's mortgage or deed of trust on them to secure the purchase money, he still retaining possession of them, is invalid against his creditors unless

it be acknowledged or proved and recorded in the county in which he resides in such manner as conveyances of land are by law directed to be acknowledged or proved and recorded.

2. A contract between A., a manufacturer of cars, and B., a railroad company in Missouri, recites that A. thereby agrees to loan to B., for hire, certain cars to be used upon its road "for hire as aforesaid;" that A. has received from B. its three promissory notes, two at sixty clays and the other at four months, together with certain bonds of the company as collateral for said notes; that A. is to hold the notes as collateral security and collect them at maturity, and hold the proceeds for the safe custody and return to A., when demanded, of said cars delivered to B. "for the term of four months, for hire as aforesaid," the latter to have the right and privilege at any time during the four months to purchase the cars upon the payment to A. of $6,338.40, that being the amount of the notes; that until such payment is made in full, B. shall have no right, title, claim, or interest in or to the cars, except as to their use for hire, but that they shall remain the property of A., to be accounted for by B. and redelivered to A. in default of the payment of the $6,338.40; that in the event of default's being made in the payment of said notes, and A. shall elect to take the cars into his possession, the sums collected on the notes shall be retained by him for his own use, together with such a sum, to be realized from the sale by him of the cars as may be needed to make the amount due and unpaid on the notes, the balance, if any, to be paid to B.; that upon the payment by the latter of said notes at maturity without hindrance or delay, said cars shall belong to and become the property of B., and that A. will relinquish his ownership to them and give B. a good and sufficient bill of sale or conveyance thereof. The cars were delivered to B., but the contract was not recorded. C., having obtained a judgment against B., levied his execution on the cars.

Held:

1. That the contract was not a bailment nor a conditional sale, but that under it the ownership of the cars passed to B.

2. That to protect them from seizure and sale under C.'s execution, the contract should have been recorded in the manner prescribed by the laws of Missouri for recording mortgages or deeds of trust of personal property.

Page 102 U. S. 236

This is an action under the statutes of Missouri by Henry H. Davis, Sheriff of Chariton County, for the use of the Jackson and Sharp Company, a corporation under the laws of Delaware, upon a bond executed and delivered to him by William Heryford and James W. Lewis to indemnify him against all damages which he might sustain in consequence of the seizure and sale of certain cars levied upon as the property of the Keokuk and Kansas City Railway Company under an execution sued out on a judgment rendered in favor of said William against the latter company and the Western Construction Company in the Circuit Court of Chariton County, Missouri.

A trial by jury having been waived by the written stipulation of the parties, the court below found the facts as follows:

1. That on and prior to Dec. 23, 1873, the Jackson and Sharp Company was incorporated by Delaware, having its office and doing business at Wilmington, in that state and engaged in manufacturing railroad cars; that the Keokuk and Kansas City Railway Company was incorporated by Missouri, and engaged in the construction of a railroad through the County of Chariton and other counties in the latter state.

2. That, Jan. 5, 1874, the car company delivered to the railway company at Salisbury, Missouri, to be used on its road, one passenger car, No. 1, and one mail, baggage, and express car, also No. 1, lettered with the name of the railroad company, under and pursuant to the terms and conditions of the following articles of agreement entered into Dec. 23, A.D. 1873, by and between said car company of the first part, and the said railway company of the second part. It recites:

"That the party of the first part has constructed one passenger car, No. 1, and one mail, baggage, and express car, also No. 1, and lettered with the name of the aforesaid railway company, to be used on the railroad of the party of the second part for hire,"

and then proceeds:

"It is therefore agreed as follows: the said party of the first part hereby agrees to loan to the said party of the second part, for hire, the said passenger, and mail, baggage, and express cars for the space of four months from the date of this agreement, to be used

Page 102 U. S. 237

on said railway, and to deliver the same to the party of the second part at Wilmington, Delaware, to be transported to the said railway company at Salisbury, Missouri, at the expense and risk of the party of the second part, to be used on the said railway for hire as aforesaid, and not elsewhere, without the written consent of the party of the first part."

"The party of the first part has received from the party of the second part three promissory notes of the party of the second part, to the order of the Western Construction Co., and endorsed by A. C. Vandewater, president, F. A. Jones, John Foggett, A. C. Vandewater, G. P. Lawrence, John C. Noyes, and J. W. Morse, together with thirteen of the first mortgage bonds of said railway company, of $1,000 each, as collaterals for said notes; two of said notes are dated Nov. 14, 1873, one payable at sixty days, and the other at four months, each for $1,919.20, payable, with interest at the rate of ten percent per annum, after date, at the Mercantile Bank of St. Louis, Missouri; the other of said notes is dated Dec. 15, 1873, payable at four months, for $2,583, without interest, at the National Bank of Commerce, New York, which said three notes the said party of the first part is to hold as collateral security, and to collect the same at maturity, and to hold the proceeds, when collected, for the safe custody and return to the party of the first part, when demanded, of the said passenger, and mail, baggage, and express cars, delivered to the party of the second part for the term of four months, for hire, as aforesaid, the said party of the second part to have the right and privilege to purchase at any time the said passenger, and mail, baggage, and express cars within the period of four months from aforesaid date, upon the payment to the party of the first part in cash the sum of $6,338.40, with interest at the rate of ten percent per annum from the date of the agreement until day of payment; but until such payment is made in full, the said party of the second part shall have no right, title, claim, or interest in and to the said passenger, and mail, baggage, and express cars, except as to their use or hire, nor any right or authority in any way to dispose of, hire, sell, mortgage, or pledge the same, but the said cars are, and shall remain, the property of the party of the first part, to be accounted for by the party of the second part to the party of the first part, and to be redelivered to the party of the first part when demanded, in default of the payment of the aforesaid sum of $6,338.40, with interest as aforesaid, hereinbefore described, anything to the contrary herein contained notwithstanding. "

Page 102 U. S. 238

"It is also agreed that should there be any default in the payment of any one of the above-described three promissory notes at the time and on the day that they, or either of them, respectively become due and payable, and the party of the first part shall elect to take into their own possession the above-described passenger and mail, baggage, and express cars, delivered as aforesaid, the several sums which may have been collected on account of the above-described promissory notes are to be retained by the party of the first part for their own use, and the passenger and the mail, baggage, and express cars are to be sold by the party of the first part at public or private sale, and of the net amount realized from said sale so much as should be needed to make the amount remaining due and unpaid on the above-described promissory notes, with the interest that may have accrued on the same, shall be retained by the said party of the first part, and the surplus, if any, shall be paid over to the said party of the second part."

"And the said party of the first part hereby agrees with the said party of the second part, that if all the said three promissory notes are paid on the day and at the time that they severally became due and payable according to their terms, tenor, and effect, that upon payment of all the said notes having been made without any hindrance or delay whatever, the party of the first part will then relinquish their ownership to the said passenger car and the mail, baggage, and express car, and will give to the party of the second part a good and sufficient bill of sale or conveyance for the said cars, and will apply to the payment of the same the proceeds of the above-described promissory notes, interest on notes overdue in any event to belong to the party of the first part."

"And it is also agreed and understood that if the said notes are paid according to their tenor and effect, the said party of the first part may retain the money paid upon said notes, and then the said cars shall belong to and be the property of the said party of the second part, and the said party of the first part shall, on request, relinquish their ownership thereof, and make a bill of sale or conveyance of all their right, title, and interest therein, to the said party of the second part."

"In witness whereof, the parties have hereto set their name and caused the seal of their respective corporations to be affixed."

"[SEAL]"

"JACKSON AND SHARP COMPANY"

"JOB H. JACKSON"

"THE KEOKUK AND KANSAS CITY RAILWAY CO."

"By S. H. MELVIN, President"

"[SEAL]"

"ALBERT BLAIR, Secretary"

Page 102 U. S. 239

3. That said cars were brought to Missouri and were placed upon and used by said railroad company on its railroad in Chariton County, Missouri.

4. That the notes mentioned in said contract were not paid at maturity, and still remain unpaid; that, Dec. 4, 1873, the Jackson and Sharp Company received $13,000 in the first mortgage bonds of said railroad company as collateral security for said notes, for which it executed and delivered its receipt, as follows:

"WILMINGTON, DEL., Dec. 14, 1873"

"Received of Keokuk and Kansas City R.R. Co., thirteen one thousand dollar bonds, No. 281 to 293, both numbers inclusive, as collateral for said Co. notes given in payment for one passenger car, and for notes yet to be given for one mail, bagg., and ex. car."

"JOB H. JACKSON, Pres't"

5. That said bonds are yet in the hands of that company.

6. That the defendant, Heryford, under and by virtue of the provisions of an Act of the General Assembly of Missouri, entitled

"An Act to protect contractors, sub-contractors, and laborers in their claims against railroad companies or corporations, contractors, or sub-contractors,"

approved March 21, 1873, obtained, Nov. 20, 1874, a judgment in the Circuit Court of Chariton County, Missouri, against the said railroad company and the Western Construction Company, for materials furnished and labor performed by him in the construction of the road, which said judgment it was declared should be a lien upon the

"roadbed, station houses, depots, bridges, rolling stock, real estate, and improvements pertaining to said railroad within the counties of Clark, Knox, Macon, Randolph, and Chariton, in the State of Missouri."

7. That on Nov. 25, 1874, an execution was issued on the judgment.

8. That Davis, Sheriff of Chariton County, Missouri, endorsed and returned the execution as levied

"upon the following-described property as the property of the Keokuk and Kansas City Railway Company and the Western Construction Company, to wit, the road bed, iron, and cross-ties thereon on the Keokuk and Kansas City Railway Company, station houses,

Page 102 U. S. 240

depots, bridges, rolling stock, and improvements appertaining to said road, situated in Chariton County; also a lot of cross-ties piled up along the line of said road, supposed to be about seven thousand; also locomotive engine No. 1, named James W. Lewis, and tender of the same; one passenger coach No. 1, branded K. & K. C. R. W. Co.; and one mail and express car, branded K. & K. C. R. W. Co.; four box of freight cars; two coal cars; one flat car; three hand cars; two iron cars; one set blacksmith tools; one lot shovels, spades, and picks; and all the tools and implements pertaining to said railroad which are in Chariton County, and all the furniture in the railroad and construction cars; office in the Town of Salisbury."

It was also returned May 3, 1875, by Berry Owens, Sheriff of Chariton County as levied

"on one box car, three rubber cars, and three break jacks, as the property of the Keokuk and Kansas City Railway Company and the Western Construction Company."

That Heryford, prior to Dec. 12, 1874, caused Davis to levy upon and seize, under an execution issued from the Circuit Court of Chariton County, Missouri, in his favor and against the Keokuk and Kansas City Railway Company and the Western Construction Company, the cars in said contract described.

That on Dec. 13, 1874, the Jackson and Sharp Company served notice upon the sheriff claiming the passenger car and mail, baggage, and express car under and by virtue of chap. 55, sec. 28, p. 608, vol. i. Wagn.Mo.Stat., title "Executions."

That the sheriff thereupon gave Heryford notice of the claim of the company, who, Dec. 15, 1874, executed and tendered his bond to the sheriff, with Lewis as security, conditioned

"that the said bounden William Heryford and his securities will indemnify the said H. H. Davis, as sheriff aforesaid, against all damage and costs which he may sustain in consequence of the seizure and sale of the above described passenger coach No. 1, and mail, baggage, and express car No. 1, branded with the name of the K. & K. C. R. W. Co., and to satisfy and pay to any person or persons claiming the same all damages which said person or persons may sustain in consequence of such seizure and sale."

That by virtue of the execution aforesaid, and in pursuance

Page 102 U. S. 241

of chap. 55, sec. 58, p. 608, vol. i., Wagn.Mo.Stat., title "Executions," Berry Owens, Sheriff of Chariton County, Missouri, on May 1, 1875, advertised and sold the said passenger car, and mail, baggage, and express car, so levied upon.

That prior to the sale and after the levy the defendants had knowledge of the contract of Dec. 23, 1873.

That the parties, in negotiating their contract of Dec. 23, 1873, and in the subsequent correspondence and dealings after the execution of the same, treated and undertook said contract as a conditional sale.

That the contract has never been acknowledged or recorded.

That the cars were, at the time they were delivered, marked and branded as described in the contract.

That the value of the cars, at the time of the seizure by the sheriff, was $3,800.

As a conclusion of law, the court found that the plaintiff was entitled to recover of the defendants $3,800, with interest, by way of damages, in the sum of $540, together amounting to $4,340, and rendered judgment accordingly.

Heryford and Lewis thereupon sued out this writ of error.

Upon the facts and in the rendition of the judgment the judges were divided in opinion upon the following points, which are certified here:

1. Whether on the facts the plaintiff or the defendants were entitled to judgment.

2. Whether the instrument under which the plaintiff claims was required by the laws of Missouri to be registered in order to be valid against the creditors of the said railroad company, the property in question having been delivered to and being in possession and use of the said company at the time of the levy.

3. Whether the said instrument is a "mortgage or deed of trust of personal property," within the meaning of the statutes of Missouri; viz., 1 Wagn.Stat. p. 281, sec. 8.

Page 102 U. S. 243

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