McKee v. Latrobe
Annotate this Case
159 U.S. 327 (1895)
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U.S. Supreme Court
McKee v. Latrobe, 159 U.S. 327 (1895)
McKee v. Latrobe
Argued and submitted March 13-14, 1895
Decided October 21, 1895
159 U.S. 327
On the facts set forth in the headnote to Gilfillan v. McKee, just decided, it is further held that Latrobe was entitled to receive from the general fund the value of his services, and that their value was $75,000.
This case also was argued in connection with Gilfillan v. McKee, ante, 159 U. S. 303. The bill was originally filed by John H. B. Latrobe, July 13, 1888, six days after the bill of Lamon and
Black was filed, and for the same general purpose of sharing in the sum recovered by McKee, relying upon the trust contained in the contract of July 16, 1870, between the Choctaw Nation and McKee, in favor of persons who had rendered services theretofore in the prosecution of said claim.
His allegation of service is substantially that, after the close of the war of the rebellion, the Choctaw Nation employed him as their professional advisor in all matters, including the net proceeds claim, pertaining to their rights against the United States, for which the Nation agreed to pay him a reasonable compensation. That he immediately entered upon the duties thus assumed, and prepared the treaty of 1866 between the Nation and the United States, reinstating the Indians in their rights and privileges. For this service, however, he seems to have been paid. That he procured and submitted large masses of evidence to the various committees of Congress having the matters in charge, and made numerous arguments before said committees, and before the executive officers of the United States, and stated accounts in behalf of the Nation against the United States, and was engaged five or six years in the active prosecution of their claim. That these services continued until about the time McKee interposed in the business as the leading agent of the Nation. That after that date, his services were apparently not needed or desired by the other attorneys, and he did but little, but is informed and believes that McKee and those working with him prosecuting the case, which he had previously prepared, and with the use of the results of his professional skill and industry, secured the payment of the claim. That, if the McKee contract were held to be valid, then McKee was bound in equity and justice to pay to complainant a fair and just compensation for the services theretofore rendered, for which McKee should be charged as trustee. That it was agreed in 1866 between himself and the Choctaws that his services should be rendered in conjunction with Cochrane, and that he subsequently agreed with Cochrane that his compensation should be paid out of the percentage reserved to Cochrane by his contract, and that he is reasonably entitled to receive $75,000, which had been
agreed upon between himself and McPherson, Cochrane's executor, as his proper compensation.
In his answer, McKee denied the general employment of the complainant by the Choctaw Nation, and averred that, if he were ever employed at all, it was only to assist and advise with the authorities of said Nation in regard to the negotiation of the treaty of April 28, 1866, and denied that under such treaty the claim for net proceeds was secured, or that it had been prosecuted to a successful conclusion through the provisions of such treaty.
Upon a hearing upon pleadings and proofs, the case resulted in a decree for $75,000 against McKee, with the further provision that if anything were paid to the complainant, Latrobe, out of the fund deposited in the court by McKee in the interpleader suit, such sum should be credited in favor of McKee on the decree. Upon the following day, a decree was entered in the interpleader suit, to which Latrobe was a party defendant, awarding him his distributive share of the entire amount, $75,000, out of the general fund of $147,057.63 in controversy in that case. McKee appealed from the decree in this case.