Southern Pacific R. Co. v. United States
Annotate this Case
168 U.S. 1 (1897)
U.S. Supreme Court
Southern Pacific R. Co. v. United States, 168 U.S. 1 (1897)
Southern Pacific Railroad Company v. United States
Argued December 2-3, 1896
Decided October 18, 1897
168 U.S. 1
The cases of United States v. Southern Pacific Railroad, 146 U. S. 570, and United States v. Colton Marble & Lime Co. and United States' v. Southern Pacific Railroad, 146 U. S. 615, held to have adjudged, as between the United States and the Southern Pacific Railroad Company:
(1) That the maps filed by the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad Company in 1872 were sufficient, as maps of definite location, to identify the lands granted to that company by the Act of Congress of July 27, 1866, c. 278, 14 Stat. 292;
(2) That, upon the acceptance of those maps by the Land Department, the rights of that company in the lands so granted attached, by relation, as of the date of that act and
(3) That in view of the conditions attached to the grant, and of the reservations of power in Congress contained in the act of 1866, such lands became, upon the passage of the Act of July 6, 1886, c. 637, 24 Stat. 123, forfeiting the lands granted to the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad Company, the property of the United States, and by force of that act were restored to the public domain, without the Southern Pacific Railroad Company's having acquired any interest therein that affected the ownership of the United States.
A right, question, or fact distinctly put in issue and directly determined by a court of competent jurisdiction as a ground of recovery cannot be disputed in a subsequent suit between the same parties or their privies, and even if the second suit is for a different cause of action, the right, question, or fact once so determined must, as between the same parties or their privies, be taken as conclusively established so long as the judgment in the first suit remains unmodified.
The 45th Rule of Equity, providing that "no special replication to any answer shall be filed," and that
"if any matter alleged in the answer shall make it necessary for the plaintiff to amend his bill, he may have leave to amend the same with or without payment of costs, as the court, or a judge thereof may in his discretion direct"
means, at most, that a general replication is always sufficient to put in issue every material allegation of an answer or amended answer unless the rules of pleading imperatively require an amendment of the bill, and such an amendment is not required in order to set out that which may be used simply as evidence to establish any fact or facts put in issue by the pleadings.
Where a former recovery is given in evidence, it is equally conclusive in its effect as if it were specially pleaded by the way of estoppel.
This suit was brought by the United States to quiet its title to a large tract of land in California, acquired under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, and now set apart by act of Congress and the President's proclamation, issued thereunder, as part of a public reservation.
The facts involved, and the legislation affecting the rights of the respective parties, do not vary materially from those set forth in United States v. Southern Pacific Railroad, 146 U. S. 570.
In view of the full statement there, and of the still fuller statement in the opinion of the court in this case, it is sufficient, for the purpose of understanding the argument of counsel reported below, to give the following facts
1. By the Act of July 27, 1866, c. 278, 14 Stat. 292, Congress created a corporation called the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad Company, authorized it to construct a railroad from Missouri to the Colorado River, and thence across the State of California to the Pacific, and made a grant of public lands to aid in the construction of that railroad. In the same act, it further authorized the Southern Pacific Railroad Company to connect with the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad at or near the boundary of California, and it made similar grants
to the Southern Pacific Railroad Company to aid in its construction.
2. Under the Act of July 27, 1866, the Atlantic and Pacific Company constructed a part of its road, but did no work west of the Colorado River, the east line of the State of California.
By the Act of March 3, 1871, c. 122, 16 Stat. 573, the Southern Pacific Company was authorized to construct a railroad by way of Los Angeles to the Texas Pacific Railroad at or near the Colorado River,
"with the same rights, grants, and privileges, and subject to the same limitations, restrictions, and conditions, as were granted to said Southern Pacific Railroad Company of California by the Act of July 27, 1866, provided, however, that this section shall in no way affect or impair the rights, present or prospective, of the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad Company."
4. The Southern Pacific Company constructed such contemplated railroad, and claims in this suit that the lands in dispute passed to it under the act of 1871.
5. By the Act of July 6, 1886, c. 637, 24 Stat. 123, entitled "An act to forfeit the lands granted to the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad Company," etc., it was enacted
"that all the lands, excepting the right of was and the right, power, and authority given to said corporation to take from the public land adjacent to the line of said road material of earth, stone, timber, and so forth, for the construction thereof, including all necessary grounds for station buildings, workshops, depots, machine shops, switches, side tracks, turntables, and water stations, heretofore granted to the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad Company by an act of Congress entitled 'An act granting lands to aid in the construction of railroad and telegraph lines from the States of Missouri and Arkansas to the Pacific Coast,' approved July twenty-seventh, eighteen hundred and sixty-six, and subsequent acts and joint resolutions of Congress which are adjacent to and coterminous with the uncompleted portions of the main line of said road, embraced within both the granted and the indemnity limits, as contemplated to be constructed under and by the provisions of said act of July twenty-seventh, eighteen hundred and sixty-six, and acts and
joint resolutions subsequent thereto and relating to the construction of said road and telegraph line be, and the same are hereby, declared forfeited and restored to the public domain."
6. On April 3, 1871, the Southern Pacific Company filed a map of its route from Tehachapa Pass to the Texas Pacific Railroad, and proceeded to construct its road, and finished the entire constriction in 1878. The road crossed the line of the Atlantic and Pacific Company as located. The lands in controversy in the cases reported in 146 U.S. 146 U. S. 570 and 146 U. S. 615 were within the granted or place limits of both the Atlantic and Pacific Company and the Southern Pacific Company at the place where the lines crossed each other. The Southern Pacific Company claimed that, as it had constructed its road, and as the other company had not done the same, the lands became its property. It was to test this claim of title and to restrain trespassed by the railroad company and those claiming title under it that the suits reported in 146 U.S. were instituted.
7. The decisions in those cases were adverse to the Southern Pacific Company. This Court held, as stated in the headnote, that the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad Company, having duly filed a valid and sufficient map of definite location of its route from the Colorado River to the Pacific Ocean, which was approved by the Secretary of the Interior, the title to the lands in dispute passed thereby to that company under the grant of July 27, 1866, and remained held by it, subject to a condition subsequent, until the forfeiture under the Act of July 6, 1886, and that by that Act of Forfeiture, the title thereto was retaken by the United States for its own benefit, and not for that of the Southern Pacific Railroad Company, whose grant never attached to the lands so as to give that company any title of any kind to them.
Then this suit was brought, in which the principal contention on the part of the United States was that the in dispute are in the same category in every respect with those in controversy in the cases reported in 146 U.S., and that, so far as the question of title id concerned, the judgments in those cases conclusively determined, as between the United States and the Southern Pacific Railroad Company
and its privies, the essential facts upon which the government rests.
9. In the former cases, the United States insisted that the controlling matter was whether the maps of location filed by the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad Company in 1871, and which were accepted by the Land Department as sufficiently designating that company's line of road under the Act of July 27, 1866, were valid as maps of definite location. The United States contended that they were maps of that character. The Southern Pacific Company contended that they were not. The issue so made was determined in favor of the United States. In this case, the United States insisted that, it having been so determined, and the lands here in dispute being within the limits of the line of road so designated, it was not open to the Southern Pacific Company to question the result reached in the suits reported in 146 U.S. Such maps, it was claimed, sufficiently identified the lands granted by Congress to the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad Company by the act of 1866, and were therefore valid maps of definite location.
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