Marrone v. Washington Jockey Club - 227 U.S. 633 (1913)


U.S. Supreme Court

Marrone v. Washington Jockey Club, 227 U.S. 633 (1913)

Marrone v. Washington Jockey Club

No. 59

Argued February 28, 1913

Decided March 10, 1913

227 U.S. 633

ERROR TO THE COURT OF APPEALS

OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Syllabus

The rule commonly accepted in this country from the English cases is that a ticket to a place of entertainment for a specified period does not create a right in rem.

A contract binds the person of the maker, but does not create an interest in the property it concerns unless it also operates as a conveyance; a ticket of admission cannot have such effect, as it is not under seal and by common understanding it does not purport to have that effect.

Specific performance of rights claimed under a mere ticket of admission to property cannot be enforced by self-help; the holder refused admission must sue for the breach.

While there might be an irrevocable right of entry under a contract incidental to a right of property in land or in goods thereon, where the contract stands by itself, it must be a conveyance or a mere revocable license.

35 App.D.C. 82 affirmed.

The facts, which involve the rights of the purchaser of a ticket to a racetrack, and liability for his ejection therefrom, are stated in the opinion.

Page 227 U. S. 635

MR. JUSTICE HOLMES delivered the opinion of the Court.

This is an action of trespass for forcibly preventing the plaintiff from entering the Bennings Race Track in this District after he had bought a ticket of admission, and for

Page 227 U. S. 636

doing the same thing, or turning him out, on the following day, just after he had dropped his ticket into the box. There was also a count charging that the defendants conspired to destroy the plaintiff's reputation, and that they excluded him on the charge of having "doped" or drugged a horse entered by him for a race a few days before, in pursuance of such conspiracy. But, as no evidence of a conspiracy was introduced, and as no more force was used than was necessary to prevent the plaintiff from entering upon the racetrack, the argument hardly went beyond an attempt to overthrow the rule commonly accepted in this country from the English cases, and adopted below, that such tickets do not create a right in rem. 35 App.D.C. 82. Wood v. Leadbitter, 13 M. & W. 838; McCrea v. Marsh, 12 Gray 211; Johnson v. Wilkinson, 139 Mass. 3; Horney v. Nixon, 213 Pa. 20; Meisner v. Detroit, Belle Isle & Windsor Ferry Co., 154 Mich. 545; W. W. V. Co. v. Black, 113 Va. 728; Shubert v. Nixon Amusement Co., 83 N.J.L. 101; Taylor v. Cohn, 47 Or. 538, 540; People v. Flynn, 114 App.Div. 578.

We see no reason for declining to follow the commonly accepted rule. The fact that the purchase of the ticket made a contract is not enough. A contract binds the person of the maker, but does not create an interest in the property that it may concern unless it also operates as a conveyance. The ticket was not a conveyance of an interest in the racetrack, not only because it was not under seal, but because, by common understanding, it did not purport to have that effect. There would be obvious inconveniences if it were construed otherwise. But if it did not create such an interest -- that is to say, a right in rem, valid against the landowner and third persons -- the holder had no right to enforce specific performance by self-help. His only right was to sue upon the contract for the breach. It is true that, if the contract were incidental to a

Page 227 U. S. 637

right of property either in the land or in goods upon the land, there might be an irrevocable right of entry; but when the contract stands by itself, it must be either a conveyance or a license, subject to be revoked.

Judgment affirmed.



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