Dodge v. Tulleys - 144 U.S. 451 (1892)
U.S. Supreme Court
Dodge v. Tulleys, 144 U.S. 451 (1892)
Dodge v. Tulleys
Argued and submitted March 22-23, 1892
Decided April 11, 1892
144 U.S. 451
Interest at the rate of 8 3/4 percent in Nebraska is not usurious.
The cestuis que trust is not a necessary party to a bill by a trustee to foreclose a mortgage.
A loan was made February 1, and the mortgage and notes were dated on and bore interest from that day, but as there were sundry encumbrances, part of the money was retained; one sum applied to a payment March 4; another sum March 11; a large proportion of the whole debt was not remitted to the borrower until June 8, and on the 8th of October a final sum of $3,000 was sent to the borrower's agent to pay a judgment of $2,466, which was paid, the agents retaining the balance. On a suit to enforce the lien of the mortgage a decree was entered for the plaintiff with an allowance of $1000 as an attorney's fee.
(1) That no rebate of interest should be allowed on the payments made March 4, March 11 and October 8.
(2) That a rebate should be allowed on the remittance of June 8.
(3) That the attorney's fee should be reduced to $500.
The Court stated the case as follows:
On February 17, 1886, the appellants, residents of Hall County, Nebraska, executed and delivered two instruments, each dated February 1, 1886, and together given for a loan of $10,000. Both instruments conveyed the same lands. The first was in form a trust deed executed to L. W. Tulleys, trustee, to secure payment of a bond of $10,000, given to Clarence K. Hesse, due in five years, with interest at 6 1/2 percent, payable semi-annually. The second was in form a mortgage to Burnham, Tulleys & Co., to secure ten notes of $112.50, due, respectively at the times the semi-annual interest became due on the $10,000 bond. Burnham, Tulleys & Co. were loan brokers doing business at Council Bluffs, Iowa, and took these notes and this mortgage as payment of their commissions, the notes, with the interest named in the $10,000 bond, making the loan in fact as was intended at 8 3/4 percent. Clarence K. Hesse, the obligee in the bond, was in the employ of Burnham, Tulleys & Co. as examiner of lands. He was not the lender of the money, and was named as obligee simply for convenience in transferring title. Default having been made in the payment of interest, a suit of foreclosure was commenced in the name of L. W. Tulleys, trustee, to which suit the present appellants were the sole defendants. The bill described complainant as "trustee for Cornell University, and for Burnham, Tulleys & Company," and set out two separate causes of action, the first on the trust deed, and the second on the mortgage. In respect to the first, after alleging the execution of the bond and the trust deed, it averred that Cornell University was the present holder of the bond. With reference to the second, the bill contained this allegation as to complainant's title:
"And your orator further shows the court that he is trustee for Burnham, Tulleys & Co., the owners of said promissory notes, and the mortgage deed securing the same, by virtue of the purchase of the same before maturity."
It is also alleged that Tulleys was a citizen of Iowa and the defendants citizens of Nebraska. To this bill a demurrer was filed by defendants on the grounds
first of a want of equity, second that Cornell University and Burnham, Tulleys & Co. were not made parties, and third that a cause of action in favor of Cornell University had been improperly joined with one in favor of Burnham, Tulleys & Co. This demurrer was overruled, and leave given to answer. Subsequently, the court held that Cornell University ought to be made a party to the suit, and leave was given to amend the bill by making new parties plaintiff, and thereafter Cornell University and Burnham, Tulleys & Co. appeared and filed what was called an amendment to the bill, but which simply reaffirmed in their behalf the allegations of the original bill. The answer, admitting the execution of the papers, alleged that Hesse, the obligee, was a mere nominal party, the real lender being Burnham, Tulleys & Co., and that $534 of the $10,000 loaned had never been paid to the defendants, and also pleaded generally usury. Proofs were taken and a decree entered in favor of the complainants for the full amount claimed, with a thousand dollars allowance for attorney's fees. The defendants appealed to this Court.