Blackburn v. Portland Gold Mining Co.
175 U.S. 571 (1900)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Blackburn v. Portland Gold Mining Co., 175 U.S. 571 (1900)

Blackburn v. Portland Gold Mining Company

No. 54

Argued and submitted October 18, 1899

Decided January 8, 1900

175 U.S. 571

Syllabus

The provision in Rev.Stat. § 2326 for the trial of adverse claims to a mining patent "by a court of competent jurisdiction" does not relate to any particular court, state or federal, but it was the intention of Congress in this legislation to leave open to suitors all courts competent to determine the question of the right of possession.

A controversy between rival claimants under that and the previous section can be properly determined by a state court if the usual conditions of federal jurisdiction do not exist, and the judgment of the Supreme Court of a state in such case cannot be reviewed by this Court simply because the parties were claiming rights under a federal statute.

The court does not undertake to say that no case can arise under this legislation, which turns upon a disputed construction, and therefore presents a question essentially federal in its nature.

This was an action brought on August 27, 1897, in the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of Colorado by William H. Blackburn, a citizen of the State of Colorado, against the Portland Gold Mining Company, a corporation of the State of Iowa, and W. S. Stratton, a citizen of the State of Colorado.

It was alleged in the complaint that the amount in dispute in the cause exceeded, exclusive of interest and costs, the sum of two thousand dollars; that the suit was of a civil nature at common law, and arose under the laws of the United States; that it was an adverse suit, and a suit arising under the provisions of sections 2325 and 2326, Revised Statutes of the United States, and is what is known as a suit in support of an adverse claim; that the defendant, W. S. Stratton, had applied for a patent for a portion of the Fairplay Lodge mining claim, survey lot No. 9331, under and by virtue of the provisions of section 2325, and that the plaintiff Blackburn, under and by virtue of section 2326, had filed his adverse claim and protest

Page 175 U. S. 572

against the entry of said portion of said Fairplay claim, upon the ground that a part thereof was held and owned by the plaintiff as a part and parcel of the Eacho Lodge mining claim; that said W. S. Stratton, on or about the 4th day of February, 1897, had made application in the United States land office at Pueblo, Colorado, for patent on said portion of said Fairplay Lodge mining claim under said section 2325, and that, at the time he made his said application, he was not the real owner of said portion of Fairplay Lodge mining claim, neither did he have any interest or title whatsoever therein; that long prior to said time, the said Stratton had by good and sufficient deed conveyed all his right, title, and interest in and to said claim to the Portland Gold Mining Company, defendant, and for that reason the plaintiff brought this action against the said the Portland Gold Mining Company jointly with said Stratton; that, on February 1, 1897, and ever since, the plaintiff was and is the owner of and in actual possession of the Eacho Lodge mining claim, 1,500 by 300 feet, situate in the Cripple Creek mining district, El Paso County, State of Colorado, and that plaintiff has the legal right to occupy and possess the same by virtue of a full compliance with the local rules and regulations of miners in said mining district and of the laws of the United States and of the State of Colorado, and by preemption, discovery, and location thereof as a lode mining claim located on the public domain of the United States; that, on February 4, 1897, the defendant wrongfully and unlawfully entered into and upon a parcel of the said Eacho Lodge mining claim described as follows, to-wit: all that part of said claim which is intersected by the exterior lines of survey No. 9331, known as the Fairplay Lodge mining claim, as shown by plat marked B, filed on July 28, 1899, in the land office of the United States at Pueblo, Colorado, with the adverse claim of plaintiff against the entry of said survey lot for patent; that the defendant has ever since wrongfully withheld possession of said parcel of Eacho Lodge mining claim from the plaintiff, to his damage in the sum of one thousand dollars; that this suit is brought in support of said adverse claim within thirty days after the filing of said adverse claim, and that plaintiff

Page 175 U. S. 573

has necessarily disbursed and expended the sum of one thousand dollars for plats, abstracts, and copies of papers filed in said land office with said adverse claim, and also a reasonable counsel fee, to-wit, two hundred dollars for the expense of preparing his said adverse claim.

The plaintiff prayed for a judgment that he is the owner and entitled to the possession of and patent to the above-described parcel of said Eacho Lodge mining claim, and for the recovery of the same; for the sum of one thousand dollars damages, for the sum of three hundred dollars expended in behalf of said adverse claim, and for costs of suit.

On November 8, 1897, the defendants, the Portland Gold Mining Company and W. S. Stratton, moved the court to dismiss the cause for the following alleged reasons:

1st. That the court has no jurisdiction either of the parties or the subject matter of said suit.

2d. That both the plaintiff and defendants in said suit are citizens of the State of Colorado, and the same is not one wholly between citizens of different states.

3d. That it does not appear in said complaint that the amount in controversy in said suit is two thousand dollars.

4th. That it appears from said complaint that said suit is one which cannot under the Constitution and statutes of the United States be brought into this Court.

On December 20, 1897, the court entered judgment dismissing the cause for want of jurisdiction and signed a bill of exceptions at the request of the plaintiff, and also certified that the said question of jurisdiction of the circuit court of the United States was the only one involved in the said cause, and was the sole question upon which said cause was dismissed, and also allowed the present writ of error.

Page 175 U. S. 574

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