GILA BEND RESERVOIR & IRR. CO. v. GILA WATER CO.(1906)
Messrs. William C. Prentiss and Joseph K. McCammon for appellant.
Mr. C. F. Ainsworth for appellee.
Mr. Justice McKenna delivered the opinion of the court:
The appellant and appellee are Arizona corporations. The former brought this suit in the district court of Maricopa county to quiet title to certain land and water rights against the appellee and the Peoria Canal Company, Valley Canal & Land Company, also Arizona corporations, and against the Arizona Construction Company, an Illinois corporation, and against certain persons, one of whom was a resident of the ter- [202 U.S. 270, 271] ritory, and the others nonresidents. The complaint contained the usual allegations. All the defendants but the Gila Water Company, appellee herein, disclaimed title. The appellee answered denying appellant's title, and, in a cross complaint, set up title in itself. To the cross complaint appellant answered that appellee claimed title 'under and by virtue of a certain judgment and decree of this court (district court of Maricopa county), rendered and entered November 20, 1894, and certain pretended receiver's deed or deeds made, executed, and delivered under and by authority of said judgment and decree and proceedings thereunder, or a certain deed or deeds of some person or persons deriving title under, through, and by virtue of said receiver's deed or deeds.' And it was alleged that said judgment and the proceedings thereunder were void in that (1) the action in which the judgment was rendered was a proceeding in rem and that the court never acquired jurisdiction over the property or any part thereof; (2) that the judgment was rendered July 21, 1894, and appellant duly appealed from said judgment to the supreme court of the territory, and the district court thereby lost jurisdiction of the action, and yet, on the 20th, of November, 1894, the district court entered a pretended amendment to the judgment and decree, which was pretended to be in lieu of the original decree of July 21, and that the only right and title appellee has to the property is under this 'pretended, amended, and void judgment and decree.'
It was further alleged that the receiver was duly appointed in another action and that he took possession of the property, and that during the time appellee claims to have obtained title to any of said property the same and the whole thereof was in the custody of the court and in the possession of the receiver, and that prior to the commencement of the suit at bar the court and receiver ceased to have any custody or possession of the property.
The trial court found that the appellee was the owner in fee simple of the property, and adjudged that the claim of the ap- [202 U.S. 270, 272] pellant and all of the defendants in the question to be 'invalid and groundless.' The decree was affirmed by the supreme court.
The findings of fact of the supreme court are very general. They are only that the appellant had not, at the commencement of the action, any cause of action in respect to the property, and has not now any right, title, or interest therein; that the appellee was the owner in fee simple and in possession thereof.
The special rulings of the trial court, which were assigned as errors, and affirmed by the supreme court, appear in the opinion of the latter court and in the bill of exceptions. These rulings were made upon the introduction in evidence by the appellee to sustain its title of certain judgments rendered by the district court of Maricopa county. The facts as to these judgments are stated by the supreme court as follows:
We concur in this conclusion. The objection made by the appellant to it is, as we have indicated, that suit No. 1996 was a proceeding in rem, and that the court did not acquire jurisdiction of the property, for the reason that it was in the custody of the court in suit No. 1728, and that the court in the latter case did not extend the receivership to No. 1996 nor consolidate the suits, and, therefore, had no power to order the sale of the property by the receiver in No. 1728
This is tantamount to saying that the absence of formal orders by the court must prevail over its essential action. It is clear from the record that the district court considered the cases pending before it at the same time, considered No. 1996 as the complement of No. 1728, regarded the cases in fact as consolidated, and empowered the receiver appointed in 1728 to sell the property and distribute the proceeds as directed by the decree in 1996. The provision of the decree entered July 21, 1894 (and of the amended decree of November 20, 1894), is as follows:
This decree was affirmed by the supreme court of the territory and afterwards by this court. The assignments of error, therefore, are without foundation.