Under the statutes of the Territory of Arizona, a complaint in a
civil action, alleging that the plaintiff is the owner in fee of a
parcel of land, particularly described, and that the defendant
claims an adverse estate or interest therein, and praying for a
determination of the plaintiff's claim and of the plaintiff's
title, and for an injunction and other equitable relief, is good on
This was a complaint, filed in a District Court of the Territory
of Arizona and County of Pima by Frank Ely against the New Mexico
and Arizona Railroad Company and several individuals, alleging that
the "plaintiff is the owner in fee of all that piece or parcel of
land granted by the Mexican authorities to Leon Herreros on May 15,
1825," called the Rancho San Jose de Sonoita, situated in the
Sonoita Valley in the county aforesaid, and more particularly
described and bounded in the complaint, according to the calls of a
survey made by the government of Spain in June, 1821, and that
"defendants, and each of them, claim an estate or interest in
and to the above described land and premises adverse to this
plaintiff; that the said claim of the said defendants and each of
them is without any right whatsoever, and the said defendants have
not, nor have any or either of them, any estate, right, title or
interest whatever in said lands and premises or any part thereof.
Wherefore the plaintiff prays:"
"1st. That the defendants and each of them be required to set
forth the nature of his claim, and that all adverse claims of the
defendants and each of them may be determined by decree of this
"2d. That by said decree it be declared and adjudged that the
defendants have no estate or interest whatever in or to said land
or premises or in or to any part thereof, and that the title of the
plaintiff is good and valid. "
Page 129 U. S. 292
"3d. That the defendants and each of them be forever enjoined
and debarred from asserting any claim whatever in or to said land
or premises or to any part thereof adverse to the plaintiff, and
for such other and further relief as to this honorable court shall
seem meet and agreeable to equity, and for his costs of suit."
The defendants demurred to the complaint upon the ground that it
did not state facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action. The
demurrer was sustained and judgment given for the defendants
dismissing the action. The judgment was affirmed in the supreme
court of the territory. 19 P. 6. The plaintiff appealed to this
MR. JUSTICE GRAY, after stating the facts as above, delivered
the opinion of the court.
The judgment of the Supreme Court of the Territory of Arizona in
favor of the defendants upon their demurrer to the complaint
proceeded upon the ground that the action must be treated as a suit
in equity only, and that the complaint made out no case for
equitable relief, and therefore could not be maintained under the
opinions of this Court in Holland v. Challen, 110 U. S.
, 110 U. S. 25
and Frost v. Spitley, 121 U. S. 552
121 U. S. 557
See also More v. Steinbach, 127 U. S.
. But each of those cases came from a circuit court of
the United States in which the distinction between actions at law
and suits in equity is preserved. The present action, arising under
territorial statutes, is governed by different considerations.
The statutes of Arizona provide that
"There shall be in this territory but one form of civil action
for the enforcement or protection of private rights, and the
redress or prevention of private wrongs,"
to be commenced by complaint, containing "a statement of the
facts constituting the cause of action, in ordinary and concise
language," and "a demand of the relief
Page 129 U. S. 293
which the plaintiff claims." Compiled Laws of 1877, c. 48, §§ 1,
22, 39. Under precisely similar statutes of the Territory of
Montana, it has been adjudged by this Court that both legal and
equitable relief may be granted in the same action and may be
administered through the intervention of a jury, or by the court
itself, according to the nature of the remedy sought.
18 Wall. 648; Hershfield
18 Wall. 657; Davis v.
18 Wall. 659; Basey v.
20 Wall. 670.
By the Compiled Laws of Arizona, c. 48, § 256,
"An action may be brought by any person in possession, by
himself or his tenant, of real property against any person who
claims an estate or interest therein adverse to him for the purpose
of determining such adverse claim, estate, or interest."
By the Act of the Territory of 1881, No. 59, that statute is
amended by striking out the requirement of the plaintiff's
possession, so as to read as follows:
"An action may be brought by any person against another who
claims an estate or interest in said real property adverse to him,
for the purpose of determining such adverse claim."
The manifest intent of the statute as thus amended is that any
person owning real property, whether in possession or not, in which
any other person claims an adverse title or interest may bring an
action against him to determine the adverse claim and to quiet the
plaintiff's title. It extends to cases in which the plaintiff is
out of possession and the defendant is in possession, and in which,
at common law, the plaintiff might have maintained ejectment. An
allegation, in ordinary and concise terms, of the ultimate fact
that the plaintiff is the owner in fee is sufficient, without
setting out matters of evidence or what have been sometimes called
"probative facts," which go to establish that ultimate fact, and an
allegation that the defendant claims an adverse estate or interest
is sufficient, without further defining it, to put him to a
disclaimer or to allegation and proof of the estate or interest
which he claims, the nature of which must be known to him and may
not be known to the plaintiff. These conclusions accord with the
decisions of the courts of
Page 129 U. S. 294
California and Indiana under similar statutes, from one of which
the present statute of Arizona would seem to have been taken.
Payne v. Treadwell,
16 Cal. 220, 242-247; Statham v.
11 P. 606; Heeser v. Miller,
19 P. 375;
Railroad v. Oyler,
60 Ind. 383, 392; Trittipo v.
99 Ind. 269.
The result is that the complaint in this case is sufficient to
authorize the court to determine the claim of the defendants and
the title of the plaintiff, and also, if the facts proved at the
hearing shall justify it, to grant an injunction or other equitable
Judgment reversed and case remanded to the Supreme Court of
Arizona with directions to overrule the demurrer to the complaint
and to take such further proceedings as may be consistent with this