262 U.S. 215 (1923), 341-364, Curtis, Collins & Holbrook Co. v. U.s.

Docket Nº:Nos. 341-364.
Citation:262 U.S. 215, 43 S.Ct. 570, 67 L.Ed. 956
Party Name:CURTIS, COLLINS & HOLBROOK CO. v. UNITED STATES, and twenty-three other cases. Argued April 9 and 10, 1923.
Case Date:May 21, 1923
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 215

262 U.S. 215 (1923)

43 S.Ct. 570, 67 L.Ed. 956

CURTIS, COLLINS & HOLBROOK CO.

v.

UNITED STATES, and twenty-three other cases.

Argued April 9 and 10, 1923.

Nos. 341-364.

United States Supreme Court.

May 21, 1923

Appeals from the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Suits by the United States against the Curtis, Collins & Holbrook Company. Certain decrees for defendant were reversed and remanded by the Circuit Court of Appeals (United States v. Cooksey, 275 F. 670), and in each of said suits defendant appeals. Decrees affirmed.

[43 S.Ct. 570] In November, 1912, the United States filed 79 bills in the District Court of the United States for the Northern District of California, seeking to set aside patents for land in the Susanville land district in California, issued by it under the Timber and Stone Act (Act Cong. June 3, 1878, 20 Stat. 89, as amended by Act Aug. 4, 1892, 27 Stat. 348, c. 375, § 2 [Comp. St. §§ 4671-4673]), to various patentees, and by them conveyed to one Gregory, and by him to the Curtis, Collins & Holbrook Company, a corporation of California, on the ground that the patents had been obtained by fraud. The entries were filed and the patents were issued in the last six months of the year 1902, and shortly thereafter. The cases were consolidated into groups, and were referred to a master, who reported at length, finding that, as to the 79 patents, only 24 had been obtained in fraud of the United States and in violation of the statute, but that, as to all of these, the Curtis, Collins & Holbrook Company was a bona fide purchaser for value without notice of the fraud. The District Court sustained the findings of the master and dismissed the bills. The United States then prosecuted appeals as to the 24 patents whose issue had been found by the master to have been obtained by fraud, to reverse the finding by the master [43 S.Ct. 571] and the District Court that the Curtis, Collins & Holbrook Company was a bona fide purchaser without notice of the fraud. The Circuit Court of Appeals of the Ninth Circuit, to which the appeals were taken, found with the government on this issue, reversed the decree of the District Court in the 24 cases, and remanded them, with direction to cancel the patents. The Curtis, Collins & Holbrook Company has now prosecuted appeals to this court in all these 24 cases, under section 241 of the Judicial Code (Comp. St. § 1218). The parties, as the master did below, selected as a typical case of the 24 cases in which fraud was found, the patent issued to one Edward L. Cooksey. That has been argued in this court, with the understanding that the other 23 cases are to abide the decree in this, because the facts, so far as notice of the fraud is concerned, are substantially the same.

In 1901 persons owning lands within the limits of the national forests could convey them to the United States and select in lieu thereof, and secure title by patent to, timber lands belonging to the United States outside of the forest reservations. One Tuman and C. H. Holbrook agreed to seek capitalists and induce them to purchase lands in forest reservations and exchange them for timber land outside. Tuman was a cruiser, who had prepared a list of desirable lieu lands which could be selected. In December, 1901, Holbook made a contract with Curtis and Collins by which he agreed to sell to them at $7.50 an acre 42,000 acres of timber land in Cali fornia--described in a schedule--title to which Holbrook was to obtain by conveying to the United States lands of the same amount in national forest reservations. The forest reservation lands were to be conveyed to Thompson, trustee, by the owners, who were to be paid, upon request of Holbrook and on an attorney's certificate of title, not exceeding $5 an acre, to be paid by the Bank of California out of a fund of $200,000 deposited with it by Curtis and Collins. The trustee was then to make application for the lieu lands described in the list, and when he had acquired title he was, upon notice from Holbrook that he had been paid, to convey to Curtis and Collins or to anyone to whom they directed. After the title to the whole amount had been acquired...

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