Brandies v. Cochrane
112 U.S. 344 (1884)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Brandies v. Cochrane, 112 U.S. 344 (1884)

Brandies v. Cochrane

Argued November 17-18, 1884

Decided December 1, 1884

112 U.S. 344

Syllabus

F conveyed to W, as trustee, real estate in Illinois on trust to permit F's wife to use and occupy and receive the rents and profits during her lifetime and to her own use and at any time to convey on the written request of F and the wife to the person designated, and in case of the wife's death in the husband's lifetime to convey to the husband for life with remainder to their children. Held that under the Laws of Illinois in force when the rights of the parties became fixed, a judgment creditor of F had no lien at law upon his interest in the property, and could acquire one only by filing a bill in equity.

At the common law (in force in Illinois when the rights of the parties became fixed), the lien of a judgment against one having a power of appointment, with the estate vested in him until, and in default of, appointment was liable to be defeated by execution of the power, even though the purchaser had actual notice of the judgment.

The general doctrine in equity that where a person has a general power of appointment and executes this power, the property appointed is deemed in equity part of his assets, cannot be invoked to support a claim of a judgment lien at law upon the antecedent estate, which the exercise of the power had displaced.

This was a bill in equity, filed by the appellants, the object and prayer of which is to quiet their title to the real estate described, situated in Chicago, as against the adverse claims of the appellees. The question in the case is whether the appellants have the legal title to the premises in controversy. The facts necessary to its determination are as follows:

In March, 1866, the complainants below, now the appellants, recovered a judgment in the Circuit Court of the United States for the Northern District of Illinois against Robert Forsythe, one of the appellees, and George T. Braun, for $9,665.49 and costs, on which execution was issued during the year, and returned not levied, because no property was found on which to levy. Prior thereto, in 1861, Robert Forsythe had purchased the real estate described in the bill with his own means from Horatio G. Loomis, and, according to his directions, a deed

Page 112 U. S. 345

was made by Loomis conveying the property to William R. Arthur, as trustee, and to his heirs and assigns, upon the following trusts therein expressed:

"To permit Mary E. Forsythe, wife of Robert Forsythe, of Chicago, to use and occupy, enjoy and receive, the rents and profits of said lands and premises, for her life and to her own use, and at any and all times, upon the order or request in writing of said Mary E. Forsythe and the said Robert Forsythe, jointly, to convey said lots, or either or any part of them, to such person or any persons as they may designate, and in case said Mary E. shall die without issue in the lifetime of her said husband, then to convey said lands to said Robert Forsythe for life, immediately after the decease of said Mary E., to hold to him and his use for life, and to his child or children, if any lawfully begotten, in fee simple and remainder, to their use and to them equally as tenants in common. But if said Robert shall die without lawful issue, then to the children of his brother, Leonard E. Forsythe, and the children of Lydia T. Warrack, who may be in being at the time of said Robert's decease, in fee simple and remainder, to their use and to them equally as tenants in common. And in case said Robert shall die without lawful issue in the lifetime of said Mary E., then to convey said lands and premises to her for life immediately after the death of said Robert, to hold to her and her own use for life, and to the children of said Leonard E. Forsythe, and the children of said Lydia T. Warrack, who may be in being at the time of said Mary's decease, in fee simple and remainder as aforesaid, to their use and to them equally as tenants in common. But if hereafter said Robert shall have child or children born of his said wife or of any future wife, then instead of the conveyance aforesaid to the children of said Leonard E. Forsythe and Lydia T. Warrack, said trustee is to convey said lands to said Mary E. or to said Robert -- as the one may chance to survive the other -- to her or his use for life as aforesaid, and to the child or children who may be so born to them or him, in fee simple and remainder, to their use and to the equally as tenants in common."

Subsequently, upon proper proceedings for that purpose, this

Page 112 U. S. 346

deed was reformed and corrected by a decree in chancery whereby it was provided that the conveyance of said Arthur, the trustee, to be made on the request of the said Robert and Mary E. Forsythe, when made, should be in fee simple absolute, and should operate to cut off the several trusts thereafter specified in said original conveyance to Arthur.

This property was improved by Robert Forsythe by the erection thereon of a dwelling house, and was occupied by himself and wife as a residence at the date of the recovery of the appellants' judgment and subsequently during the life of Mrs. Forsythe.

Robert Forsythe, on March 26, 1868, was, on his own petition, adjudged a bankrupt by the District Court of the United States for the Northern District of Illinois, and on July 21, 1868, obtained his discharge.

On November 3, 1869, Robert Forsythe and Mary E. Forsythe joined in a written request to Arthur, the trustee, directing him to convey the premises in controversy to Nathan Corwith, in fee simple. Mrs. Forsythe died on January 1, 1870, leaving no issue, and on January 4, 1870, Arthur, in pursuance of the appointment previously made, conveyed the property to Corwith, as directed. This conveyance was in form absolute, but it is claimed that it was intended merely as security for an indebtedness due to Corwith from Forsythe. At any rate, Corwith conveyed the property to Robert Forsythe by a deed dated March 12, 1870, and the latter, by a deed of trust dated March 10, 1870, in anticipation of the conveyance to himself, conveyed it to George Scoville, as trustee, to secure to John Cochrane $15,000 which the latter had lent to Forsythe, and out of which Corwith had received the amount due him.

On May 9, 1870, the appellants caused an alias execution to be issued on their judgment and levied on the premises as the property of Robert Forsythe; on June 7, 1870, it was sold under this execution to them, on a bid of the amount due on their judgment, and on September 9, 1871, the time for redemption having elapsed, they received a deed from the marshal conveying the title to them.

Robert Forsythe being in default for nonpayment of interest

Page 112 U. S. 347

on the debt to Cochrane, Scoville executed the power of sale under the deed of trust to him, by a sale to James D. Wallace on April 17, 1872. The latter had, just prior thereto, on March 8, 1872, acquired whatever title to the premises, if any, had vested in the assignee in bankruptcy, by a sale and conveyance thereof from him. Thereupon Wallace reconveyed the premises, with some additional property, to George Scoville, as trustee, to secure the whole amount of principal and interest due to Cochrane, amounting, with the expenses of the transaction, to $17,000, the amount specified in the deed of trust. This arrangement was made for the better security of the debt due to Cochrane, John Forsythe having become, in consideration thereof, a guarantor of the notes given therefor.

On May 27, 1872, the complainants, having taken possession under their claim of title, filed the present bill of complaint, to which Wallace and Robert Forsythe were made defendants, praying to have their title quieted as against them.

On May 1, 1876, Scoville executed the power of sale under the deed of trust to him, and sold the property embraced therein, including the premises in controversy, to Cochrane, who, on July 13, 1876, was admitted as a party defendant, and filed his answer and cross-bill, claiming title in himself, and praying for a decree for relief. On final hearing, the original bill was dismissed and a decree rendered upon the cross-bill of Cochrane as prayed for. An appeal was taken from that decree.

Page 112 U. S. 349

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