Miltenberger v. Logansport Ry. Co.
106 U.S. 286 (1882)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Miltenberger v. Logansport Ry. Co., 106 U.S. 286 (1882)

Miltenberger v. Logansport Railway Company

Decided November 20, 1882

106 U.S. 286

Syllabus

1. In August, 1870, a first mortgage on a railroad was made. In January, 1873, a second mortgage on the same railroad was made. Both mortgages covered after-acquired property. A default on the first mortgage occurred in November, 1873, and on the second mortgage in January, 1874. In August, 1874, the second mortgagee filed a bill to foreclose the second mortgage, making the first mortgagee a party, acknowledging the priority of the first mortgage, not praying any relief against the first mortgagee, and praying for a receiver, and for the payment of his net revenue to those entitled to it. On the same day, an order was made appointing one Schuyler receiver and directing that a copy of the order be served on the first mortgagee, a corporation, requiring it to appear "on or before" the first Monday of November then next, and authorizing the receiver to pay the arrears due for operating expenses for a period in the past not exceeding ninety days. A copy of the order was served on the first mortgagee three days afterwards, and proof of that service was filed two days after the service. In October following, the receiver, on his petitions filed, was authorized by order to purchase certain rolling stock and to pay indebtedness not exceeding $10,000 to other connecting lines for materials and repairs and for ticket and freight balances, a part of which was incurred more than ninety days before the order appointing the receiver was made, and to expend a sum named in building six miles of road and a bridge, which were part of the main line of the road, and the expenditures were charged as a first lien on the earnings of the road. The first mortgagee appeared and answered on the first Monday of November, and not before. The answer objected to the creation of fresh indebtedness. Nothing more was done in the suit for eleven months. Then the receiver reported that he had built the six miles and the bridge and purchased rolling stock and incurred debts therefor. He also filed a petition showing that his trust owed $232,000, and asking leave to borrow that amount and $90,000 to put the road in order, on receivers' certificates, to be made a first lien. The petition set forth a meeting of both classes of bondholders at which, on the report of a committee, the receiver was directed, by a resolution passed, to obtain authority to borrow $322,000 on receivers' certificates. An order was made authorizing him to borrow $201,000 on receivers' certificates, payable out of income, and to be provided for in the final order of the court in the suit, if not paid out of income. Soon after, four holders of first mortgage bonds were made defendants, with leave to answer and to file a cross-bill. They answered and filed a cross-bill, in November, 1875, to foreclose the first mortgage. The cross-bill claimed that the six miles of road, and the bridge and the rolling stock, and the other property acquired by the receiver, were subject to the lien of the first mortgage, and that the mortgagor had been insolvent from October, 1873, and affirmed the foregoing statement as to the meeting of the bondholders and their resolution, and stated that the plaintiffs in the cross-bill had desired and sought for more than a year to leave the first mortgage foreclosed; that the $201,000 ought not to be borrowed and made a first lien on the road, and that the receiver ought to be removed, and

Page 106 U. S. 287

another receiver appointed under the cross-bill. In December, 1875, a reference was made to take evidence on the subject of the appointment of a new receiver. More than four months after that the first mortgagee answered the cross-bill, and the two suits being ready for hearing, they were consolidated and heard. One decree was made in them in May, 1870, declaring that both mortgages covered all the property held by the mortgagor when the original suit was brought and all subsequent additions thereto, and providing for a foreclosure of the right of the second mortgagee to redeem, and for the presentation to a master of claims against the property and the receiver. In July, 1870, one Claybrook was appointed additional receiver in the original suit. He acted, after Aug. 11, 1876, as sole receiver until Aug. 25, 1876, after which he and Schuyler were joint receivers, until December, 1876, when Schuyler resigned. Claybrook, on Aug. 12, 1876, took possession of the entire property which Schuyler had, including a railway twenty-three miles long, used under a lease from another company. The master reported as to claims against the property and the receiver from time to time. The plaintiffs in the cross-bill interposed objections to making any of the claims prior in lien to the lien of the first mortgage. In January, 1879, the court, by order, allowed certain claims, many of them not over $5,000, specifying the names of the claimants and the amounts allowed, and giving the claims allowed preference in payment out of the income and proceeds of sale, over the claims of the mortgagees. In this order, the plaintiffs in the cross-bill prayed an appeal to this Court. In July, 1879, the court made a decree for the sale of the road as an entirety, and for the payment out of the proceeds of sale of the claims allowed, before paying any principal or interest on the mortgage debts. In this decree the plaintiffs in the cross-suit prayed an appeal from it to this Court. On a hearing of the appeal, held:

(1) The appeals were appeals in open court, not requiring citations, and the order and the decree appealed from sufficiently designated all the appellees by name.

(2) The first mortgagee was a proper party to the original bill of foreclosure, because a receiver was prayed for; and, the order appointing the receiver having been served on the first mortgagee three days after it was made, such mortgagee was bound to protect promptly the interests of the first mortgage bondholders.

(3) The original bill did not seek to create a receivership for the sole benefit of the second mortgage bondholders.

(4) The property in court under the original bill was the entire mortgaged property, and not merely the equity of redemption of the mortgagor, as against the second mortgagee.

(5) The exclusive right of a second mortgagee to the income of a receivership created under a bill filed by him is limited to a case where the first mortgagee is not a party to the suit.

(6) The first mortgagee having been entitled, by the terms of the first mortgage, to take possession of the mortgaged property and operate the road, and the cross-bill not having been filed for more than a year after the receiver was appointed and the first mortgagee had appeared and answered in the original suit, and it having been, in judgment of law or in fact fully known, all the time to the first mortgage bondholders, what was doing by the receiver in creating the claims; it was inequitable for the appellants to lie by and see the receiver and the court dealing with the property in the manner complained of and merely protest generally and disclaim all interest under the receivership, and yet assert in the cross-bill that the property acquired by the receiver was subject to the lien of the

Page 106 U. S. 288

first mortgage, and claim the proceeds of that property without paying the debts incurred for acquiring it.

2. A court has the power to create claims through a receiver, in a suit for the foreclosure of a railroad mortgage, which shall take precedence of the lien of the mortgage. It may therefore provide that the receiver shall pay the arrears due for operating expenses for a period in the past not exceeding ninety days, and pay indebtedness, not exceeding $10,000, to other connecting lines, for materials and repairs, and for ticket and freight balances, a part of which had been incurred more than ninety days before the order appointing him was made, and purchase rolling stock, and build six miles of road and a bridge, part of the main line of the road, and making such expenditures a lien prior to the lien of the mortgages, upheld.

3. The mortgagor held a leased road, under a written lease, providing for rent and for payment for depreciation, and for the payment of a monthly rent by the lessor to the lessee for the use of a part of the road. The successive receivers took possession of the leased road and operated it as a continuation of the mortgaged road. Part of the rent which accrued before Claybrook became receiver was unpaid. Claybrook, after he became receiver, paid the rent as it accrued. The successive receivers collected the rent monthly from the lessor for the use of a part of the road. The court allowed to the lessor, as a claim preferred to the first mortgage, a sum based on the actual value of the use of the road by the receivers, and for depreciation, and allowed, with a like preference, claims for supplies and materials furnished for the road, while so operated. Held that the allowances were proper, and that the final decree was not erroneous in not requiring the accounts of the receiver to be settled before paying out of the proceeds of sale the debts allowed against him, nor in ordering the sale of the property as an entirety without separating that acquired by the receiver.

4. The question of the jurisdiction of this Court in respect of the claims not over $5,000 was not considered.

The case is stated in the opinion of the Court.

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