MARRONE v. WASHINGTON JOCKEY CLUB OF DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA(1913)
Messrs. Lorenzo A. Bailey and George A. Prevost for plaintiff in error.
[227 U.S. 633, 635] Messrs. A. S. Worthington and Charles L. Frailey for defendants in error.
Mr. Justice Holmes delivered the opinion of the court:
This is an action of trespass for forcibly preventing the plaintiff from entering the Bennings Race Track in this District after he had bought a ticket of admission, and for [227 U.S. 633, 636] doing the same thing, or turning him out, on the following day, just after he had dropped his ticket into the box. There was also a count charging that the defendants conspired to destroy the plaintiff's reputation, and that they excluded him on the charge of having 'doped' or drugged a horse entered by him for a race a few days before, in pursuance of such conspiracy. But as no evidence of a conspiracy was introduced, and as no more force was used than was necessary to prevent the plaintiff from entering upon the race track, the argument hardly went beyond an attempt to overthrow the rule commonly accepted in this country from the English cases, and adopted below, that such tickets do not create a right in rem. 35 App. D. C. 82. Wood v. Leadbitter, 13 Mees. & W. 838, 14 L. J. Exch. N. S. 161, 9 Jur. 187, 16 Eng. Rul. Cas. 49; McCrea v. Marsh, 12 Gray, 211, 71 Am. Dec. 745; Johnson v. Wilkinson, 139 Mass. 3, 52 Am. Rep. 698, 29 N. E. 62; Horney v. Nixon, 213 Pa. 20, 1 L.R.A. (N.S.) 1184, 110 Am. St. Rep. 520, 61 Atl. 1088, 5 Ann. Cas. 349; Meisner v. Detroit, B. I. & W. Ferry Co. 154 Mich. 545, 19 L.R.A. (N.S.) 872, 129 Am. St. Rep. 493, 118 N. W. 14; W. W. V. Co. v. Black, 113 Va. 728, 75 S. E. 82, 85; Shubert v. Nixon Amusement Co. 83 N. J. L. 101, 83 Atl. 369; Taylor v. Cohn, 47 Or. 538, 540, 84 Pac. 388, 8 Ann. Cas. 527; People ex rel. Burnham v. Flynn, 114 App. Div. 578, 100 N. Y. Supp. 31, 189 N. Y. 180, 82 N. E. 169, 12 Ann. Cas. 420.
We see no reason for declining to follow the commonly accepted rule. The fact that the purchase of the ticket made a contract is not enough. A contract binds the person of the maker, but does not create an interest in the property that it may concern, unless it also operates as a conveyance. The ticket was not a conveyance of an interest in the race track, not only because it was not under seal, but because by common understanding it did not purport to have that effect. There would be obvious inconveniences if it were construed otherwise. But if it did not create such an interest, that is to say, a right in rem, valid against the landowner and third persons, the holder had no right to enforce specific performance by self- help. His only right was to sue upon the contract for the breach. It is true that if the contract were incidental to a [227 U.S. 633, 637] right of property either in the land or in goods upon the land, there might be an irrevocable right of entry; but when the contract stands by itself, it must be either a conveyance or a license, subject to be revoked.