Portneuf-Marsh Valley Canal Co. v. Brown,
274 U.S. 630 (1927)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Portneuf-Marsh Valley Canal Co. v. Brown, 274 U.S. 630 (1927)

Portneuf-Marsh Valley Canal Company v. Brown

No. 252

Argued March 18, 1927

Decided May 31, 1927

274 U.S. 630


1. The Act of Congress known as the Carey Act, as amended, which declares that liens are authorized to be created by a state on lands granted it by the Act, and, when created, shall be valid on the separate legal divisions reclaimed, for the actual cost and necessary expenses of reclamation, etc., is an enabling act empowering the state to provide for liens by appropriate legislation. P. 274 U. S. 637.

2. The construction of state statutes providing for such liens, and the status of liens created under them, are local questions which, in the absence of controlling authority from the highest court of the state, this Court must decide for itself. P. 274 U. S. 637.

3. The plan of a Carey Act project contained provisions, effective simultaneously on allotment of land to any purchaser of water

Page 274 U. S. 631

rights, whereby shares to be issued to him in an operating company, and representing such right, should become subject to a lien in favor of the company constructing the works and providing the water supply, a security for deferred payments on the water rights, and also to a lien, in favor of the operating company, for maintenance and operation charges. The first lien was to attach on allotment of his land; the second necessarily later when water was furnished on it.

Held: that the priority of the liens inter sese, in the absence of any specific provision defining it, was to be resolved not by priority of time merely, but by examination of the entire plan for establishing the irrigation system, in the light of applicable statutes . P. 274 U. S. 636.

4. Under § 3019, Comp.Stat. of Idaho, 1919, a company furnishing water for a Carey Act project by constructing an irrigation system and selling water lights is entitled to a lien for deferred payment on such rights, superior to liens of an operating company for subsequent maintenance and operation charges. P. 274 U. S. 638.

5 F.2d 895 affirmed.

Certiorari (270 U.S. 637) to a decree of the circuit court of appeals which reversed one by the district court in a foreclosure proceeding (299 F. 338) adjudging that the above-named petitioner, a company operating the irrigation system of a Carey Act project, was entitled to a lien on certain of its shares, as security for maintenance charges, prior to the lien set up by the respondents, trustees for bondholders of the company that constructed the system.

Page 274 U. S. 632

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