Fleitas v. Richardson,
147 U.S. 538 (1893)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Fleitas v. Richardson , 147 U.S. 538 (1893)

Fleitas v. Richardson (No. 1)

No. 29

Argued April 14, 1892

Decided March 8, 1893

147 U.S. 538


In executory process, according to the Civil Code of Louisiana, in the Circuit Court of the United States, an order, made without previous notice, for the seizure and sale of mortgaged land to pay the mortgage debt, under which the sale cannot take place until the debtor has had notice and opportunity to interpose objections, is not, at least when he does interpose within the time allowed, a final decree from which an appeal lies to this Court.

This was a bill in equity, filed June 29, 1888, in the Circuit Court of the United States for the Eastern District of Louisiana by Gilbert M. Richardson, a citizen of New York, against Francis B. Fleitas, a citizen of Louisiana and residing in that district, for a seizure and sale of mortgaged lands in the Parish of St. Bernard, in that district, under executory process, in accordance with the provisions of the Louisiana Code of Practice, the material parts of which are copied in the margin. *

Page 147 U. S. 539

The bill alleged that the defendant, on January 28, 1884, executed and delivered to the plaintiff five promissory notes for $12,600 each, payable to the plaintiff's order on January 1 in 1885, 1886, 1887, 1888, and 1889, respectively, with interest

Page 147 U. S. 540

at the yearly rate of eight percent, and on the same day, by authentic act of mortgage, passed before a notary public in the presence of two witnesses, a copy of which was annexed to the bill, mortgaged the lands in question to secure the payment of these notes, which was duly paraphed by the notary, ne varieture, to identify them with the act of mortgage, and that the last two notes, copies of which, with the paraph of the notary thereon, were also annexed to the bill, and interest since July 1, 1887, had not been paid; that Shattuck & Hoffman, a commercial firm named in the mortgage, had no interest in these notes, and the plaintiff believed they had no interest in the act of mortgage and that, under these notes and the mortgage, there was past due, and owing to the plaintiff, the sums of $27,216, with interest since January 1, 1888, on $25,200 thereof at the rate of eight percent, and on $2,016 thereof at the rate of five percent

The copy of the act of mortgage annexed to the bill showed that it was made to secure the payment of the notes to the plaintiff and also to secure the payment to Shattuck & Hoffman of advances made by them to the defendant under a written agreement between them and him of the same date, not exceeding the amount of his debt to the plaintiff, and authorized the mortgagees, in case any of the debts thereby secured should not be paid at maturity, to cause the mortgaged property

"to be seized and sold under executory process, without appraisement, to the highest bidder, for cash, hereby confessing judgment in favor of said mortgagees, and of such person or persons as may be the holder or holders of said promissory notes, and all assigns of said Shattack & Hoffman, for the full amount thereof, capital and interest, together with all costs, charges, and expenses whatsoever,"

and further provided that in the event of a foreclosure of the mortgage and sale of the premises,

"then out of the proceeds of said sale the said indebtedness to said Gilbert M. Richardson, whether held by said G. M. Richardson or his assigns, shall be paid by priority over said indebtedness sue or to become due to said Shattuck & Hoffman or their successors and assigns."

Upon the filing of the bill, on June 29, 1888, the court

Page 147 U. S. 541

made the following order:

"Let a writ of seizure and sale issue herein, as prayed for, and according to law, to satisfy complainant's demands, as set forth in the foregoing bill and petition. Let the marshal seize and take into his possession, according to law, the property described in the foregoing petition, and then let the sale of this property be stayed till the further orders of this court."

On June 30, 1888, the clerk of the court issued to the defendant, and the marshal served upon him, a notice, in these terms:

"Take notice that payment is demanded of you, within three days from the service hereof, of the amount specified in the writ of seizure and sale granted on the bill of complaint herein, a copy of which accompanies this notice, with interest and costs, and in default of payment within that delay the property referred to in said bill of complaint will be seized and sold, according to law, subject to the order on said bill. A further delay of one day for every twenty miles distance from your domicile to this city at which place this Court is held is allowed you by law."

On the same day, the defendant, appearing for that purpose only, prayed for and was refused an appeal or writ of error from that order to this Court.

At the next term of the circuit court, on November 19, 1888, the defendant, appearing for the purpose of the motion only, moved that all the orders and proceedings in the case be quashed and set aside for want of jurisdiction, and also because, if the circuit court had authority, under any circumstances, to issue executory process, no case was made in the bill for issuing it, for want of authentic evidence, inasmuch as the mortgage appeared upon its face to have been made to include a private agreement between the defendant and Shattuck & Hoffman, a copy of which, verified by his oath, was annexed to the motion, and also

"making known unto the court that he will make no other and further appearance or pleading herein at all times believing the proceeding void in law, and this Court without jurisdiction over the same,"

and praying that if the court should refuse to quash the proceedings, he might be allowed an appeal to this Court from the order of seizure and sale.

Page 147 U. S. 542

On November 22, a writ was issued to the marshal commanding him to seize and take into his possession, according to law, the property described in the mortgage and to sell it to satisfy the plaintiff's demands as set forth in the bill, and repeated in the writ,

"said sale to be for cash, without appraisement, and said sale to be stayed until the further orders of the court, under its order dated June 29, 1888, on the bill herein,"

and to make return of his proceedings to the court.

On November 24, the plaintiff moved to strike the defendant's motion from the files as not being allowed by the rules of the court or by the laws of Louisiana, and the court denied the motion to quash, as well as the motion to strike from the files, but granted the appeal upon the defendant's giving bond in an amount to be fixed by the court, and referred the case to a master to report the facts to enable the court to determine that amount.

On the return of the master's report, the court, on December 7, 1888, made the following order:

"This cause came on to be heard, and was argued by counsel, whereupon the court, on consideration thereof, and further reconsidering the whole matter with reference to the order or decree awarding executory process herein, and the defendant's applications for appeal therefrom, doth now order that so much of the order of June 29, 1888, awarding executory process herein, as directs the marshal to stay the sale of the property directed to be seized till the further orders of the court, be stricken out, and that all orders made subsequently to the date of the defendant's application for an appeal, on June 30, 1888, except the order or reference to the master to report the facts upon which the amount of bond could be determined and fixed, be revoked, and that an appeal, to operate as a supersedeas, be allowed to said defendant nunc pro tunc as of said 30th day of June, 1888, according to his petition then presented, on his giving bond as required by law, with good and solvent surety, in the sum of one thousand dollars. And it is further ordered that the marshal, on the filing of such bond, release from seizure the property he has seized herein, and that the exceptions to the order of reference be overruled. "

Page 147 U. S. 543

On the same day, the defendant gave bond accordingly to prosecute his appeal to this Court "from the decree rendered on June 29, 1888."

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