153 U.S. 465 (1894), 278, Groves v. Sentell

Docket Nº:No. 278
Citation:153 U.S. 465, 14 S.Ct. 898, 38 L.Ed. 785
Party Name:Groves v. Sentell
Case Date:May 14, 1894
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 465

153 U.S. 465 (1894)

14 S.Ct. 898, 38 L.Ed. 785




No. 278

United States Supreme Court

May 14, 1894

Argued and submitted March 13, 1894




The Stephen Morgan, 94 U.S. 599, affirmed to the point that a party who does not appeal from the final decree of a circuit court cannot be heard in opposition thereto when the case is properly brought here by the appeal of the adverse party.

A note by which three parties, signing it, promise to pay to the order of the payee at a bank in New Orleans the sum named therein with interest, not negotiable, is a joint obligation under the law of Louisiana, and binds the several parties thereto only for their proportion of the debt, since, to make it a solidary obligation, binding each of the promisors for the whole debt, the solidarity must, under the law of that state, be expressly stipulated, and is never presumed.

The promisors on that note, in order to secure it, mortgaged real estate in Louisiana which they then held in common, undivided. They thereby severally declared that they were indebted to the mortgagee, etc., and that they did thereby mortgage to the mortgagee the property described in the deed. There was no stipulation showing an intention to mortgage separately an undivided part of the property for an undivided pact of the debt. Held that it was the intention of the parties that the security for the purchase money should rest upon the entire entity.

A mortgagor has the power, under the laws of Louisiana, to exclude indivisibility in contracting the mortgage, and if he fails to do so, indivisibility applies not alone as a result of his silence, but also because, being the general rule and of the nature of the contract, it exists unless excluded by its express terms or by a plain implication deducible from it.

The divisibility of a debt secured by a mortgage does not necessarily import the divisibility of the mortgage securing it.

The voluntary partition by the mortgagees of the property covered by the mortgage did not operate to prevent the mortgage creditor from enforcing his security against either part.

A subsequent mortgage creditor, who became such after the division of the property and only as to one undivided part, is entitled to be subrogated to the rights of the first mortgage creditor as they existed at the time of the subrogation.

If a party interested in the result of the suit, claiming under the subsequent mortgage, files a bill in the nature of a bill of interpleader, he cannot be allowed a solicitor's fee, to be paid from the fund dedicated to the payment of the mortgage.

Page 466

Fanny B. Lambeth and Dora Lambeth, as heirs of their deceased father, were the owners, in equal undivided proportions, of certain parcels of real estate situated in the Parish of Avoyelles in Louisiana. Two of these parcels were known, respectively, as the "Leinster Plantation" and the "Lucky Hit Plantation." Fanny B. Lambeth was married in April, 1865, to Christopher M. Randolph. The Leinster plantation was leased during 1865, 1866, and 1867 to John Rhea, who died in October, 1867, pending the lease.

On the 15th day of January, 1868, Fanny B. Lambeth, wife of Christopher M. Randolph (whom we shall hereafter refer to as Mrs. Randolph), and Miss Dora Lambeth appeared before Generes, a notary in the Parish of Avoyelles, and acknowledged themselves indebted to Mrs. Rosetta Rhea, widow of John Rhea, of Madison County, Indiana, in the sum of $8,970.12, which they declared was a balance due by them for the purchase price of certain movable property -- mules, cane, implements, etc. -- which belonged to Rhea at the time of his death and which had been placed on the Leinster plantation by him for use in its cultivation. The act declared that the movable property which they bought belonged to Mrs. Rhea, who was the widow of John Rhea, and as such was, under the laws of Indiana, where Rhea was domiciled, his sole heir, as he died intestate and left no ascendants or descendants. To evidence the indebtedness, Mrs. Randolph, authorized by her husband, and Miss Lambeth, drew their joint note, as follows:

Avoyelles, La.

$8,970.12 Leinster Plantation, January 1st, 1868

Two years after date we promise to pay to the order of Mistress Rosetta Rhea at the Citizens' Bank of Louisiana, in the City of New Orleans, eight thousand nine hundred and seventy and 12/100 dollars, for value received, with interest at the rate of eight percent per annum from date until paid. Not negotiable.

Fanny B. Randolph

C. M. Randolph

Dora Lambeth

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Mrs. Rhea bound herself to obtain a judicial recognition from the courts of Indiana of her right of inheritance to her husband's estate before enforcing payment of the note.

[14 S.Ct. 899] To secure this note, Mrs. Randolph and Miss Lambeth, by the same act, mortgaged, 1st, the Leinster plantation; 2d, a tract of land adjoining the Leinster plantation, known as the "Faulkland Tract." This act of mortgage was duly inscribed.

In September, 1868, Christopher M. Randolph, the husband of Fanny B. Lambeth, died. In December, 1868, Dora Lambeth married T. O. Stark. We refer to her hereafter as Mrs. Stark.

In December, 1868, "In the Matter of the Estate of John Rhea, deceased, in the Court of Common Pleas of Jefferson County, Indiana," Rosetta Rhea was recognized as his sole heir, and as such was decreed to be entitled to the promissory note set forth above, and all the rights securing the same.

On the 9th of January, 1873, Mrs. Randolph and Mrs. Stark made between them, by voluntary and private agreement, a partial partition of their father's estate. Mrs. Randolph took a portion of the Leinster plantation and other lands, and Mrs. Stark took the remaining portion of that plantation, also with other lands. Thus, by the terms of the partition, a portion of the land which had been mortgaged to secure the debt due to Mrs. Rhea was allotted to Mrs. Randolph and a portion to Mrs. Stark. Nothing was said in the partition as to the then existing mortgage in favor of Mrs. Rhea.

On the 23d of April, 1873, Mrs. Randolph and Mrs. Stark constituted T. O. Stark their

true and lawful attorney in fact for us and in our names, to settle and establish the payments made and amounts still due by them on a mortgage note of eight thousand nine hundred and seventy 12/100 dollars ($8,907.12), dated January 1, 1868, held by Mrs. Rosetta Rhea; to endorse on said note the amount paid thereon; to interrupt prescription; to consent to any subrogation in favor of any person or persons or commercial firm who may pay a portion of their said indebtedness on said note, and thus divide their said indebtedness, and to appear and sign, in their name, any

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agreement, document, or notarial act carrying out said subrogation, with any clauses or conditions which said attorney may, in his discretion, deem fit; to enter into said arrangements with said Mrs. Rhea, her agents or attorneys, to obtain an extension of time for the payment of the balance due on said promissory note, said extension of time to be granted and accepted upon such terms and conditions as to our said attorney may seem fit; to sign a notarial act for that purpose, and to acknowledge therein, in their name, that they recognize said Mrs. Rosetta Rhea as the rightful owner of said note, in her quality of sole heir of her deceased husband, the late John Rhea, of Madison County, Indiana, recognized as such by the court of Jefferson County, Indiana, in the matter of the estate of John Rhea, deceased, and alone entitled to claim payment of said note, with full power of substitution, and generally to do everything necessary to carry out the premises as fully as if done by us in person, hereby ratifying all and whatsoever our said attorney may lawfully do or cause to be done by virtue hereof.

On the 28th day of April, 1873, by act before Trist, a notary public in New Orleans, Stark, as agent of Mrs. Randolph and of his wife, and Victor Olivier, Esq., as agent of Mrs. Rhea, declared that the note which had been given Mrs. Rhea, and secured by the mortgage as aforesaid, had been reduced by partial payments, all arrears in interest having been paid, to the sum of $7,577.34, and the time for the payment of this balance was extended by Olivier, as agent for Mrs. Rhea, to the 1st day of March, 1874, interest thereon to be paid at the rate of eight percent from the 28th of April, 1873. Both Stark and Olivier, on behalf of their respective principals, declared that, "after a careful computation of interest and deduction of partial payments made at different times to Mrs. Rosetta Rhea by the drawers of said note," the aforesaid sum was due.

In May, 1875, Mrs. Randolph acknowledged herself indebted to Johnson & Goodrich, a commercial firm of the City of New Orleans, in the sum of $8,000, evidencing her debt by her notes, secured by a mortgage of the portion of the Leinster plantation which had been allotted to her in the partition, and also

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of her interest in an undivided tract of land which she had inherited from her father's estate, and which had not been included in the partition. In June, 1875, Johnson & Goodrich transferred this note to G. W. Sentell & Co., in liquidation.

In October, 1883, G. W. Sentell, and W. B. McLean, as executor of B. Conyers, a deceased partner of the former firm of G. W. Sentell & Co., both representing the interest of the firm in liquidation, sued in the District Court of the parish of Avoyelles to foreclose the mortgage which the firm in liquidation had, as stated, acquired by subrogation from Johnson & Goodrich. On the 24th of December, 1883...

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