McFaddin v. Evans-Snider-Buel Co.
185 U.S. 505 (1902)

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U.S. Supreme Court

McFaddin v. Evans-Snider-Buel Co., 185 U.S. 505 (1902)

McFaddin v. Evans-Snider-Buel Company

No. 217

Argued April 10-11, 1902

Decided May 19, 1902

185 U.S. 505

Syllabus

The judgment of the circuit court of appeals, sustaining the Act of February 3, 1897, which provided that

"section 4742 of Mansfield's Digest of the Laws of Arkansas, heretofore put in force in the Indian Territory, is hereby amended by adding to said section the following: Provided that, if the mortgagor is a nonresident of the Indian Territory, the mortgage shall be recorded in the judicial district in which the property is situated at the time the mortgage is executed. All mortgages of personal property in the Indian Territory heretofore executed and recorded in the judicial district thereof in which the property was situated at the time they were executed are hereby validated,"

is sound as applicable to this case.

The plain purpose of Congress was to give effect to mortgages of nonresidents, which had been, before the passage of the act, recorded in the judicial district in which the property was situated at the time the mortgages were executed.

The act as so construed and applied was a valid exercise of Congressional power, and in circumstances like those of the present case, cannot be justly impugned as depriving the attaching creditor of property within the meaning of the Constitution.

The power of a legislature to pass laws giving validity which was before ineffectual is well settled.

In the United States Court for the Northern District of the Indian Territory, in April, 1897, an issue was tried between the Evans-Snider-Buel Company, a corporation organized under the laws of the State of Illinois, and William McFaddin & Son. One J. R. Blocker was the owner and in possession of 6,775 head of cattle pasturing in the Indian Territory. McFaddin & Son were judgment creditors of Blocker, and, as such, levied an attachment on said cattle. The Evans-Snider-Buel Company filed a proceeding by way of interpleader in the attachment suit, claiming to have a prior lien on said cattle by means of certain mortgages given by said Blocker, who, as shown by the mortgages themselves, as well as the testimony in the case, was a

Page 185 U. S. 506

resident of Bexar County, Texas, in which county some of the mortgages relied on had been duly executed and recorded. The cattle in question were grazing in the Creek Nation, Indian Territory, and the mortgages were again recorded in the Northern District of the Indian Territory at Muskogee and in the Creek Nation. The cattle at the time of the levy were in the possession of Blocker, the mortgagor.

After the filing of the interpleader, and on January 29, 1897, a judgment was entered against the defendant Blocker, in the sum of $55,875.71, and sustaining the attachment. There were several trials in the case, but at the last trial in the Northern District, where the plaintiffs, McFaddin & Son, for the second time lost their suit, it was agreed that in case the judgment should be reversed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Indian Territory, judgment should be rendered against the Evans-Snider-Buel Company, the interpleader. The judgment was reversed by that court, and, pursuant to said agreement, on the fourth day of January, 1900, judgment was entered against the interpleader and its bondsmen for the sum of $72,250.35. From that judgment, the interpleader prosecuted its writ of error to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.

At the time the attachment was levied upon the cattle in controversy, the following laws in relation to the registration of chattel mortgages were in force in the Indian Territory, being sections 4742 and 4743 of Mansfield's Digest:

"SEC. 4742. All mortgages, whether for real or personal estate, shall be proved or acknowledged in the same manner that deeds for the conveyance of real estate are now required by law to be proved or acknowledged, and when so proved or acknowledged, shall be recorded -- if for lands, in the county or counties in which the lands lie, and if for personal property, in the county in which the mortgagor resides."

"SEC. 4743. Every mortgage, whether for real or personal property, shall be a lien on the mortgaged property, from the time the same is filed in the recorder's office for record, and not before, which filing shall be notice to all persons of the existence of such mortgage. "

Page 185 U. S. 507

As before stated, the attachment in this case was sustained on the 29th day of January, 1897. On February 3, 1897, Congress amended the law above quoted by an enactment which reads as follows:

"Section 4742 of Mansfield's Digest of the Laws of Arkansas, heretofore put in force in the Indian Territory, is hereby amended by adding to said section the following: Provided, that, if the mortgagor is a nonresident of the Indian Territory the mortgage shall be recorded in the judicial district in which the property is situated at the time the mortgage is executed. All mortgages of personal property in the Indian Territory heretofore executed and recorded in the judicial district thereof in which the property was situated at the time they were executed are hereby validated."

Stat. 1896-1897, p. 510.

On November 19, 1900, the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit filed an opinion and judgment, Sanborn, J., dissenting, reversing the judgment of the United States Court of Appeals in the Indian Territory, and affirming the judgment of the United States Court for the Northern District of the Indian Territory. Whereupon a writ of error was allowed and the cause brought to this Court.

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