Holland v. Challen - 110 U.S. 15 (1884)
U.S. Supreme Court
Holland v. Challen, 110 U.S. 15 (1884)
Holland v. Challen
Submitted December 13, 1884
Decided January 7, 1884
110 U.S. 15
1. A statute of Nebraska provided that an action may be brought and prosecuted to final decree, judgment, or order, by any person or persons,
whether in actual possession or not, claiming the title to real estate against any person or persons who claim an adverse estate or interest therein, for the purpose of determining such estate or interest and quieting the title to such real estate. Held that it dispensed with the general rule of courts of equity that in order to maintain a bill to quiet title, it is necessary that the party should be in possession, and in most cases that his title should have been established by law or founded on undisputed evidence or long continued possession. Clark v. Smith, 13 Pet. 195, with reference to a Kentucky statute, in some respects, similar, approved.
2. Jurisdiction over proceedings to quiet title and prevent litigation is inherent in courts of equity, and although the courts have imposed limitations upon its exercise, it is always competent for the legislative power to remove those restrictions.
3. While it is true that alterations in the jurisdiction of state courts cannot affect the jurisdiction of the circuit courts of the United States so long as the equitable rights themselves remain, yet an enlargement of equitable rights may be administered by the circuit courts as well as by the courts of the state.
4. Under the Nebraska statute cited above, a bill to quiet title which on its face presented a good title in the complainant gave him the right to call upon the defendant to produce and disclose whatever estate he had in the premises in question, to the end that its validity might be determined, and if adjudged invalid, that the title of the plaintiff might be quieted.
Bill in equity to quiet title. Plaintiff claimed under a tax sale, but did not aver possession. Defendant was owner prior to the tax sale. The bill charged
"That said defendant is contriving now to wrong and injure your orator in the premises by claiming to be the owner of said real estate and by trying to obtain, take, and keep possession thereof, and by denying and slandering your orator's title to and his right of possession thereof, all of which acts, doings, and pretenses of said defendant are contrary to equity and good conscience and tend to the manifest wrong, injury, and oppression of your orator in the premises."
The defendants demurred, and the court below dismissed the bill. The plaintiff appealed.