Goode v. Gaines - 145 U.S. 141 (1892)
U.S. Supreme Court
Goode v. Gaines, 145 U.S. 141 (1892)
Goode v. Gaines
Argued April 18, 1892
Decided May 2, 1892
145 U.S. 141
The court again adheres to its decision in Rector v. Gibbon, 111 U. S. 276, touching titles in the Hot Springs Reservation, and holds that there are no facts in these cases which take them out of the operation of that decision; but in view of the delay in commencing these suits and the previous acquiescence of the plaintiffs in the possession by the defendants, it limits the right of an account in equity of the rents of the premises to the date of the filing of the bills.
These were bills in equity filed by William H. Gaines and wife on the 23d of May, 1884, against the appellants, respectively, in the Circuit Court of the United States for the Eastern District of Arkansas, all seeking the same relief, and couched, mutatis mutandis, in substantially the same language.
The bill in No. 302, Smith v. Gaines, was as follows:
"William H. Gaines and Maria Gaines, his wife, bring this suit against John Kubler and George H. Smith, and for cause of action allege that in the year 1851, in pursuance of the instruction of the Secretary of the Interior, plaintiff Maria Gaines, Albert Belding, Henry Belding, and George Belding, heirs and legal representatives of Ludovicus Belding, entered, under the preemption laws of the United States, the southwest quarter of section thirty-three, in township two (2) south, range nineteen (19) west, for which they paid the United States government two hundred dollars, which was advanced by plaintiff Wm. H. Gaines, and which money the United States still retains. At the time of said entry, a small portion of said land was occupied by Mrs. Lydia Belding, widow of Ludovicus Belding, and the portion of said land for which this suit is brought was occupied by _______ ________, and in ____, Wm. H. Gaines, Maria Gaines, Albert Belding, Henry Belding, and George Belding, under the supervision and control of Wm. H. Gaines, brought suit in the Hot Springs Circuit Court against _____, and recovered judgment for the possession of said land, which judgment was afterwards affirmed by the Supreme Court of the State of Arkansas and by the Supreme Court of the United States, and on the ___ day of _____, 1856, Wm. H. Gaines was, by the Sheriff of Hot Springs county, put into the possession of said property by virtue of a writ of possession issued upon the judgment of said Hot Springs Circuit Court in
obedience to the mandates of said supreme courts, both of the state and of the United States, and said plaintiffs, Wm. H. Gaines and Maria Gaines, his wife, remained in peaceable and quiet possession of said property until the 1st day of June, 1876, when they were dispossessed of said property by a receiver appointed by the Court of Claims of the United States under an Act of Congress entitled 'An act in relation to the Hot Springs Reservation, in Arkansas,' approved June 11, 1870."
"Plaintiffs entered into possession by virtue of said entry and by virtue of the decisions of said state and United States supreme courts, and the writs of possession issued in pursuance of said judgments, and continued in possession for a period of about twenty years, until the Supreme Court of the United States, in a suit to determine to whom the patent should issue, decided that said lands were not subject to preemption or entry, and that no claimant was entitled to a patent, but the same was still the property of the United States, which decision was rendered April 24, 1876. Plaintiffs during said twenty years paid taxes on said property, and fenced and built houses on the same, and otherwise improved the same."
"On the 1st day of October, 1870, plaintiff Wm. H. Gaines leased a lot of ground, which has since been laid off into lots and blocks by the Hot Springs Commission in pursuance of an act of Congress and is now known as 'Lot (2) Two, in Block Seventy-Seven (77),' to John Kubler, which lease was for the term of one year, to be renewed at the election of the lessee from year to year, until the title to the Hot Springs quarter section of land was settled, for an annual rent of _____, payable in monthly installments of _____."
"Said lease also provides that all buildings and improvements erected on said lot by the lessee might be removed therefrom during the continuance of the lease, or within thirty days thereafter, but that no buildings or improvements erected could be removed while said rent, or any part thereof, remained due and unpaid. It also provides that the lessor should have a lien on all buildings and improvements to secure the rent, a
copy of which is hereto attached in Exhibit A, and made a part hereof."
"Said lessee took possession of said land under and by virtue of said lease only, and in no other way whatever, and he and _____ assigns occupied the same under said lease until the 1st day of June, 1876."
"That on the 24th day of April, _____, said lessee and his assigns owed the lessor for rent the sum of three hundred and eleven dollars and eighty-five cents ($311.85). Said lessee and his assigns failed to remove said buildings and improvements erected by them at any time during or within thirty days after the expiration of the lease, and by virtue of the provisions of the lease, said buildings and improvements, erected by said lessee and his assigns, became the buildings and improvements of Wm. H. Gaines."
"That on the 12th day of September, 1876, said lessee, John Kubler, sold and transferred to George H. Smith all his right, title, and claim to said premises, he, George H. Smith, well knowing before said transfer all the terms and conditions of said lease, which transfer was made without the knowledge or consent of the plaintiff."
"Plaintiffs, by arrangement with George, Henry, and Albert Belding, having become the owners of said claim, aver that in less than six calendar months after the first sitting of the Hot Springs Commission, under the Act of Congress of the United States entitled 'An act in relation to the Hot Springs Reservation, in the State of Arkansas,' approved March 3, 1877, they filed their claim before said Commission to purchase said lot, and that George H. Smith filed a like claim, and upon the hearing of said claims they were consolidated by said Commission for the purpose of hearing the testimony, and said petitions filed and the testimony taken before said Commission clearly showed that George H. Smith had acquired his possession in no other way but by said lease made by plaintiff Wm. H. Gaines to said John Kubier, as will more fully appear from a complete copy of the petition, testimony, and record entries in said claim, filed herewith and marked 'Exhibit A,' and made part hereof, and notwithstanding that said petition
and testimony showed that defendant George H. Smith acquired possession only by virtue of said lease, and that, too, after the 24th day of April, 1876, to-wit, September 12, 1876, still said Commission misconstrued the law applicable to that state of facts, and awarded the right to purchase said lot to defendant George H. Smith, and since said award said defendant has purchased said lot from the United States, and received a patent therefor, and on account of said misconstruction of the law, as applied to the facts before said Commission, the right to purchase said lot, which in law, equity, and good conscience should have been awarded to plaintiffs, was by said misconstruction of the law illegally and wrongfully awarded to defendant George H. Smith by said Hot Springs Commission."
"Plaintiffs aver that as defendants have never had any other right or title to said lot or to the possession thereof than that which they derived from said lease and under covenants to restore possession to plaintiff Wm. H. Gaines, that said defendants should be held to hold said lots as trustees for the use and benefit of plaintiffs."
"Plaintiffs offer to pay any sum of money that may be found due to the defendants, or either of them, by reason of any money paid to the United States for the purchase of said lots, and to do all other acts which may be found to be just and equitable. Plaintiffs aver the property herein sued for is worth more than five hundred dollars, and that this cause of action arises wholly under the law of the United States."
"Plaintiffs ask that defendants be required to answer this bill, but not under oath."
"And they pray that an account may be taken of the state of accounts between themselves or either of them and said defendants severally; that they may be allowed reasonable rents for the occupancy of the said premises; that defendants may be decreed to hold said lots as trustees for the plaintiffs, and to convey the same to the plaintiffs, and that they may have such other relief as may be equitable."
Answers and replications having been filed, proofs were made, sustaining complainants' allegations, and the circuit
court entered decrees in complainants' favor as to the title to the lots severally involved, and sent the cases to a special master for an accounting. Reports were subsequently made stating an account charging defendants with rent or rental value from the date of the awards to the date of the filing of the bills, with interest, and with rental value from the date of filing the bills to the date of the decree, with interest, and with rent on improvements to the date of the reports, and crediting defendants with the present value of the improvements, taxes, etc., paid, and the amount paid the government for the lots, with interest. Decrees were entered in accordance with the reports, and the cases brought on appeal to this Court.