Evans v. Patterson - 71 U.S. 224 (1866)
U.S. Supreme Court
Evans v. Patterson, 71 U.S. 4 Wall. 224 224 (1866)
Evans v. Patterson
71 U.S. (4 Wall.) 224
1. The court reproves the practice of making bills of exception a sort of abstract or index to the history of the case, and so of obscuring its merits.
2. Where a party claiming land as owner, under the laws of Pennsylvania, brings ejectment in the name of the original warrantee and recovers against a father and subsequently producing a deed poll from the warrantee, made previously to the date of the ejectment and deraigning title to himself, brings another ejectment in his own name against a son, who on his father's death kept possession of the same land, such two suits are an estoppel and within the Act of Assembly of Pennsylvania of the 13th of April, 1807, which declares that
"where two verdicts shall, in any suit of ejectment between the same parties, be given in succession for the plaintiff or defendant, and judgment be rendered thereon, no new ejectment shall be brought. "
3. But where a plaintiff deraigns title regularly from the warrantee, and the defendant shows no title, the question of estoppel is of no importance.
The State of Pennsylvania in 1792 granted a warrant to survey a certain tract of land to William Barker. Barker, the warrantee, conveyed his interests to Daniel Broadhead. Broadhead died, and James Patterson bought his title from his heirs. But he had not, or at least could not find or prove the existence of any "deed poll" from Barker, conveying the warrant to Broadhead. However, using the name of Barker, the warrantee, he brought ejectment in 1831 against a certain Eli Evans and some other persons who were in possession of the land. Evans and these others set up in defense that Barker did not appear, and that his existence was uncertain, and that Patterson, asserting himself as he did, to be owner of the land, could not bring suit in Barker's name. But the court decided that under the peculiar system of land law of Pennsylvania, he could, and he had verdict and judgment accordingly. On error to the supreme court of the state (Ross v. Barker, 5 Watts 391), that tribunal affirmed the judgment; holding to the doctrine previously declared in Campbell v. Galbraith, [Footnote 1] that in Pennsylvania a beneficial owner was entitled to use the name of a warrantee, though such warrantee was ignorant both of the action and that trust.
For some reason, however, Patterson did not get possession of the land. Eli Evans, against whom the ejectment had been brought, died, leaving a son, Elihu Evans, upon the land. Patterson, who had in the meantime found a deed poll from Barker, the warrantee, to Broadhead, brought, A.D. 1855, a suit against this Elihu Evans, deraigning the title regularly from the warrantee to himself and obtaining verdict and judgment. But still he did not get into actual or permanent possession. Elihu Evans yet maintained occupation.
Patterson, who was a citizen of Ohio, now brought a third ejectment -- the suit below -- in his own name against the said Elihu. This was in the Circuit Court of the Western District of Pennsylvania. He put in evidence the records of the two judgments just mentioned, proved his actual ownership at the time when the first suit (that in the name of William Barker), was brought, showed the identity of the land, now demanded with that recovered in the former suits, and that Elihu Evans was a son of Eli Evans, and in possession. He here rested; asserting that he had shown two recoveries for the same land, and claiming the benefit of them under a statute of Pennsylvania, passed 13 April, 1807, which enacts that
"where two verdicts shall in any suit in ejectment between the same parties be given in succession for the plaintiff or defendant, and judgment be rendered thereon, no new ejectment shall be brought."
The defendant contended that the first ejectment having been instituted in the name of William Barker, the warrantee, after he had conveyed all his right and title to the land in controversy to Daniel Broadhead, as appeared from the evidence, there was no privity, and therefore the first verdict and judgment should not be counted against him, and prayed the court so to instruct the jury, which the court after argument of counsel declined to do, and charged the jury that if the evidence in the case was believed by them, the plaintiff had two verdicts and judgments for the land in controversy, which were conclusive in favor of his title, and he was entitled to recover.
The case was now here on error, the record showing a long and confused bill of exceptions, with recitals of all the deeds, and minute descriptions of the land and of the tracts bounding it.