Kinkead v. United States - 150 U.S. 483 (1993)


U.S. Supreme Court

Kinkead v. United States, 150 U.S. 483 (1893)

Kinkead v. United States

No. 83

Argued November 15, 1893

Decided December 4, 1993

150 U.S. 483

Syllabus

The Court of Claims was not estopped by the recitals in the Act of January 17, 1887, 24 Stat. 358, c. 21, referring this case to it, from considering the question of the title of the claimants to the property whose value is sought to be recovered.

Page 150 U. S. 484

The commissioners appointed by the governments of the United States and of Russia for the transfer of Alaska under the Treaty of March 30, 1867, 15 Stat. 539, had no power to vary the language of the treaty or to determine questions of title or ownership.

The building constructed by the Russian-American Company in 1845 on land belonging to Russia became thereby, so far as disclosed by the facts in this case, the property of the Russian government, and, being transferred to the United States by the Treaty of March 30, 1867, no property or ownership in it remained in the Russian-American Company which it could transfer to a private person adversely to the United States.

This was a petition by John H. Kinkead and Samuel Sussman, claiming to be the owners and lawfully possessed of a certain warehouse in Sitka, Alaska, for the rent of a part of such warehouse at the rate of $200 per month, from December 15, 1868, to December 15, 1888, the date of the petition, amounting to $48,000, and also the further sum of $69,300 for rent of another part of the same building from September 12, 1869, to December 15, 1888; together with the further sum of $50,000 for the value of the building, the aggregate amount of the claim being $167,300.

Petitioners claimed to have purchased the building from the Russian-American Company through Prince Maksoutoff, chief factor, for the sum of $3,000 in gold.

A former petition for the same claim had been presented to the Court of Claims, and dismissed by it for want of jurisdiction upon the ground that, as the title set up by the claimants depended upon the construction of the treaty between the United States and the emperor of Russia, the court was without jurisdiction over the same. 18 Ct.Cl. 504. Whereupon claimants procured the passage of an Act of Congress, approved January 17, 1887, referring their claim to the Court of Claims for adjudication.

The petition under consideration having been heard, the court made a finding of facts, the substance of which appears in the opinion of this Court, and entered a judgment dismissing the petition upon the ground that Kinkead and Sussman had no title to the property in question. From this judgment, petitioners appealed to this Court.

Page 150 U. S. 485



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