Utah v. United States
284 U.S. 534 (1932)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Utah v. United States, 284 U.S. 534 (1932)

Utah v. United States

No. 42

Argued January 19, 20, 1932

Decided February 15, 1932*

284 U.S. 534

Syllabus

1. One who has contracted with a state to purchase lands, the legal title to which was certified to the state by the United States in reliance upon false proofs as to their character fraudulently made or procured by him, and who, in a suit against him by the United States,

Page 284 U. S. 535

has been perpetually enjoined from setting up any claim to the lands by a decree establishing the fraud and adjudging the equitable title and the right of possession to be in the United States and no right, title or interest in himself, can gain no interest in the lands adverse to the United States by a subsequent conveyance from the state. See s.c., 274 U. S. 274 U.S. 640. P. 284 U. S. 542.

2. The same disability attaches to one who purchased from the participant in the fraud, with notice. Id.

3. A contract to sell land at so much per acre payable in yearly installments passes the equitable title, leaving in the vendor the mere right to retain the legal title as security for the unpaid balance. P. 284 U. S. 543. .

4. Where the equitable title to land that a state contracted to sell to a private vendee on deferred payments has been adjudged in a suit against the latter to be entirely in the United States because of his fraud in inducing the United States to grant the state its title, the state, having notice of the decree, cannot thereafter receive any interest by transfer from such vendee, or from a purchaser from him with notice, and if it relinquish its rights under its contract and assume to convey title to such vendee, or his purchaser, for a new price secured by mortgage on the premises, the deed and mortgage, and also liens for taxes thereafter laid on the land, are subject to be cancelled in a suit by the United States to which the state is a party. Pp. 284 U. S. 543-545.

5. A special assistant to the Attorney General, employed to recover land of which the United States has been defrauded, cannot, by statements made to an adverse claimant, estop the United States from asserting its rights in the land. P. 284 U. S. 545.

6. The question of mineral character need not be reexamined in this case, since it was adjudicated against the private claimants in the earlier suit, and the state, having relinquished to one of them its only interest (its vendor's title), has no standing to raise the question. P. 284 U. S. 546.

7. Whether the statute of limitation on suits to cancel patents applies to a suit to cancel a certification need not be decided where the relief sought and obtained is the establishment of equitable rights without disturbing the certification. Id.

46 F.2d 980 affirmed.

Certiorari, 283 U.S. 816, to review a decree reversing one of the district court and directing cancellation of a mortgage and tax liens, claimed by the state, and directing

Page 284 U. S. 536

a conveyance of the lands and accounting for their use by the other petitioners, who were vendees under the state. See s.c., 274 U. S. 274 U.S. 640; 9 F.2d 640. Also 228 Fed. 431; 248 U.S. 594.

Page 284 U. S. 538

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