[106 U.S. 47, 48] E. Walker, for appellants.
Henry Crawford, Melville W. Fuller, and Lawrence, Campbell & Lawrence, for appellees.
This appeal was heard during the last term with the appeal from the decree of foreclosure and sale in the same case, having been taken from three decrees rendered after the sale in the same suit. Huidekoper, Shannon, and Denison, the purchasers of the mortgaged property sold under the decree of foreclosure, who are appellees in this appeal, were not parties to the former appeal. All the decrees appealed from, including those now in question, were included in the order of reversal made at the former hearing; but on a petition for rehearing, it was called to the attention of the court that the transcript of the record was imperfect and incomplete, having omitted the decree confirming the sale, and that the petition for the present appeal contained a misrecital, that the decree entered April 12, 1877, was the decree 'confirming the report of the sale of the property of the defendant railroad company.' The order of reversal was, therefore, set aside as to the decrees embraced in the present appeal, and a rehearing granted. The cause, on that rehearing, has now been heard at the present term upon the whole record, as amended and perfected. From that it now appears that on February 17, 1877, the master filed his report of the sale, and the purchasers, their petition for its confirmation and for other relief, and it was on that day, on motion of the complainants' solicitors, ordered that the [106 U.S. 47, 83] report and sale be confirmed, unless objections thereto should be filed on or before the Friday next following, for which day it was set for hearing. And exceptions having been in the mean time filed by one Slaughter, on February 26, 1877, the court overruled the exceptions, and, as the order reads, 'does in all things confirm the sale' to the purchasers. From this decree an appeal was prayed by Slaughter, but was not perfected or prosecuted. The petition of the purchasers, filed February 17, 1877, in which they also asked for the immediate discharge and payment of their bid, had been referred to the master, whose report subsequently filed was confirmed by the decretal order of April 12, 1877, by which he was directed, on the surrender to him of 2,328 first-mortgage Illinois Division bonds of the defendant railroad company, to execute and deliver to the purchasers a deed of the property sold, and thereupon the receiver was directed to let them into possession. On April 16, 1877, the master having reported the execution of the decree of April 12th by the delivery of the deed and the acceptance of the bonds, a further decree was entered approving and confirming the same. These are the two decrees first named in the prayer for the present appeal.
It is now contended by the appellees that these decrees are merely orders in execution of the previous decrees of the court; are, therefore, not final in the sense necessary to authorize an appeal; and that consequently, as to them the present appeal must be dismissed for want of jurisdiction.
But according to the rule sanctioned and adopted in Forgay v. Conrad, 6 How. 201, and Blossom v. Railroad Co. 1 Wall. 657, an appeal will lie from such decrees, according to the nature of their subjectmatter and the rights of the parties affected.
In the present case the decree of April 12, 1877, in effect, distributes the proceeds of the sale upon the basis of the finding and declaration in the decree for foreclosure that the principal of the bonds had become overdue, for it authorized the purchasers, to the extent of the proportion in which the bid, if treated as cash, would, when applied, extinguish the bonds held by them, to use their bonds as cash in payment of their bid. It is manifest that a substantial error, to the prejudice of one [106 U.S. 47, 84] of the parties, may originate in a decree distributing the proceeds of a sale under a decree of foreclosure, and no question can be successfully raised against the right to appeal from such a decree. We cannot, therefore, dismiss the present appeal upon the ground alleged.
It is then urged by the appellees that the decrees in question, having simply followed the directions of previous decrees, originated no error, and that the only alternative is to affirm them. But the decrees involved in this appeal now under consideration are dependent upon the decree of foreclosure and sale, and the latter having been reversed, the decrees in question are left without support, and fall of themselves, by reason of that reversal, vitiated by the common error. As they are already annulled by operation of law, the subject-matter of the appeal is withdrawn, and the appeal itself must be dismissed for lack of anything on which it can operate.
The other decree involved in this appeal was entered November 19, 1877, and is a personal judgment in favor of Huidekoper, Shannon, and Denison, as trustees for themselves and other bondholders, for the deficiency arising from the excess of the amount found due by the decree of foreclosure and sale, over the credit, given of the proceeds of the sale of the mortgaged property. This deficiency is ascertained to be $1, 823,573.84, and execution is awarded therefor, against the railroad company, in favor of the above-named parties.
It would seem that the reasons given for dismissing the appeal as to the other decrees apply with equal force to the one now under consideration; and such, we think, would be the rule in ordinary cases; for the existence and amount of the deficiency must usually be dependent on the findings of the decree of foreclosure and sale, as to the amount due, and the extent to which that may have been reduced by the proceeds of the sale. But the present judgment is not in the customary form. Instead of finding the amount due to the complainants in whose behalf the sale was decreed, the judgment is rendered in favor of Huidekoper, Shannon, and Denison, as trustees for the bondholders. They claim not to have been parties to the suit at the time the decree of foreclosure and sale was rendered, and as we do not consider it proper to investigate or pass upon [106 U.S. 47, 85] that claim in the present proceeding, we entertain the appeal, as to the deficiency decree, and reverse it, for the error which required the reversal of the decree of foreclosure and sale.
The argument of the present appeal, on both sides, seems to have been influenced by the consideration that it possibly involved a present adjudication of the effect its determination might have upon the rights of the purchasers at the sale and the present title of the property sold. But no question of that character is involved. Whether the purchasers were parties to the litigation, either by name upon the record or in interest and by representation, so as to be affected by the error in the proceeding for which the decrees have been reversed, or whether they or their assigns are protected by the principle and policy that uphold the titles of bona fide purchasers without notice, at judicial sales, and any other that may be mooted touching the point, are questions which do not arise upon the present appeal, and are left for further consideration in case they should be presented in a subsequent stage of this or by virtue of proceedings in some other suit.
For the reasons announced, it is therefore ordered that the appeal from the decrees of April 12, 1877, and of April 16, 1877, respectively, be dismissed, upon the ground that the decrees were vacated by the reversal of the prior decree of foreclosure and sale, rendered December 5, 1876, and that the decree entered November 19, 1877, in favor of Frederick W. Huidekoper, Thomas W. Shannon, and John M. Denison, trustees, be reversed, and that the cause be remanded with directions to proceed therein as may be just and equitable.
The appellants are entitled to their costs on this appeal.