Grant v. Buckner - 172 U.S. 232 (1898)
U.S. Supreme Court
Grant v. Buckner, 172 U.S. 232 (1898)
Grant v. Buckner
Submitted November 29, 1898
Decided December 19, 1898
172 U.S. 232
Certain real estate in Louisiana, consisting of five plantations standing in the name of J. Morgan, was community property. His wife died in 1844, leaving two children as her heirs, and in 1868 Morgan conveyed all the real estate to his children and grandchildren. He died in 1860, and in 1872 his creditors took proceedings to set aside the conveyance and to subject his interest in the property to the payment of his debts. Their contention was sustained by this Court in Johnson v. Waters, 111 U. S. 640. Then a receiver was appointed to take charge of both interests in all the property. The portion to which this suit relates was in the possession of Buckner, claiming under the conveyance made by Morgan in 1858. The receiver threatening to eject him, Buckner, in order to remain in possession, took a lease of the whole plantation from the receiver. In 1891, it was decided in Mellen v. Buckner, 139 U. S. 388, that one undivided half of the plantation belonged to Buckner, and that only the remaining half was subject to the debts of Morgan, and that, if the heirs should not desire a severance of their portions, the whole should be sold and the proceeds divided in accordance with the decree. The sale was made two
years later. Buckner paid the receiver rent for the whole plantation from 1884 to 1891, but paid nothing thereafter. This action was commenced by the receiver in a state court of Louisiana to recover from Buckner rent for one-half of the estate for 1891 and 1892, and one-half of the taxes thereon for those years. Buckner in reply claimed the right to offset against the receiver's demand one-half of the rent which he had paid to him between 1884 and 1891, and asked for judgment against the receiver for the surplus. The Supreme Court of Louisiana sustained the offset and reserved to Buckner the right to recover the surplus. Held:
(1) That Buckner was entitled to set off against the rent unquestionably due for the undivided half of the plantation for 1891 and 1892 one-half the amount paid by him for rent between 1884 and 1891.
(2) That he was not precluded from obtaining the benefit of this right in the state courts by the fact that the receiver was an officer of the federal court, or by any proceedings had in that court, as the receiver voluntarily went into the state court.
(3) That the jurisdiction of the state court was clear, and its judgment is affirmed.
The case is stated in the opinion.