244 U.S. 486 (1917), 234, Hopkins v. Walker

Docket Nº:No. 234
Citation:244 U.S. 486, 37 S.Ct. 711, 61 L.Ed. 1270
Party Name:Hopkins v. Walker
Case Date:June 11, 1917
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 486

244 U.S. 486 (1917)

37 S.Ct. 711, 61 L.Ed. 1270




No. 234

United States Supreme Court

June 11, 1917

Submitted October 18, 1915




A case arises under the laws of the United States where an appropriate statement of the plaintiff's cause of action, unaided by any anticipation or avoidance of defenses, discloses that it really and substantially involves a controversy respecting the validity, construction, or effect of a law of Congress.

A substantial controversy respecting the construction and effect of the mining laws is presented by a case in which the plaintiff sets up title under a placer patent, alleging that the locus in quo was not known to contain lodes when the patent was applied for, and was so adjudged against strangers to the suit who adversed the application, and in which the defendants, notwithstanding such judgments, claim the same ground under other lode locations made after the patent and embracing claims of the width of 600 feet, while plaintiff contends 25 feet would be the maximum if the ground remained subject to lode location.

In a suit to remove a particular cloud from the plaintiff's title, the facts showing that title and the existence and invalidity of the instrument or record sought to be eliminated as a cloud are essential parts of the plaintiff's cause of action and must be alleged in the bill.

The rule is the same in respect of suits to remove clouds under § 6115 of the Montana Codes of 1907, as distinguished from suits to quiet title under § 6870.

Recorded certificates of location are the first muniment of the locator's paper title, and, when verified, are, in Montana, made prima facie evidence of all facts properly recited in them (Codes 1907, §§ 2284, 2285), and so, when apparently valid but actually, under the mining laws, invalid, they may becloud the title injuriously.


The case is stated in the opinion.

Page 487

VANDEVANTER, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE VAN DEVANTER delivered the opinion of the court:

This is a direct appeal under § 238, Judicial Code, from a decree dismissing a suit in equity for want of jurisdiction, the question for decision now being whether the case presented by the bill is one arising under the laws of the United States.

With considerable detail, the bill alleges that the plaintiffs are the owners of a placer mining claim in Montana for which a United States patent was issued to their predecessors in interest in 1895; that they and their predecessors have been the owners and in actual possession for more than twenty years; that, at the time of the application for the patent, no mineral-bearing vein or lode was known to exist within the boundaries of this placer claim; that...

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