French v. Gapen - 105 U.S. 509 (1881)
U.S. Supreme Court
French v. Gapen, 105 U.S. 509 (1881)
French v. Gapen
105 U.S. 509
The legislation of the State of Indiana touching the water power of the Wabash and Erie Canal, and the rights of certain parties thereto acquired under that legislation, considered. Held, 1. That the contractor who, pursuant to his bid under the Act of Jan. 9, 1842 (infra, p. 105 U. S. 510), performed the work, acquired, until he should be fully paid therefor, a property right in the rents of the water power which he rendered available, and the state became a trustee to collect and pay them to him. 2. That by his contract (infra, p. 514) the mill owner secured, without payment of rent, the right to draw water to his mill from the canal, as long as the latter yielded a surplus beyond the amount required for navigation and for furnishing the earlier leases. 3. That the title to the property, which the state conveyed to the board of trustees of the canal, was subject to the rights so acquired and secured. 4. That where, by a decree rendered in a suit whereto the board and the holder of the certificates of stock provided for in the conveyance of the state to the trustees were parties, the part of the canal to which those rights attached was sold and the fund brought into court, the contractor and the mill owner can intervene in order that their respective rights, either upon the fund or against the purchaser, may be ascertained and determined.
The facts are fully stated in the opinion of the Court.