Adamson v. Kay

Decision Date09 October 1911
Citation140 S.W. 13,100 Ark. 248
CourtArkansas Supreme Court

Appeal from Pulaski Circuit Court, First Division; Robert J. Lea Judge; reversed.


This suit was brought before a justice of the peace for one hundred and fifty dollars, attorney's fee, allowed by section 4457, Kirby's Digest, it being alleged that the appellee compromised a suit in which appellant was an attorney for one of the parties, and had a written transfer of a part of the cause of action for his fee, which was contingent, and that, having settled said suit, knowing his fee was contingent and unpaid, defendant became liable to him under said law.

A demurrer to the jurisdiction of the court was overruled, and judgment rendered against Kay, who appealed to the circuit court. He there filed a motion to dismiss the cause for want of jurisdiction, which the court, after hearing the evidence granted and dismissed the cause. Appellant excepted to this action, and from the judgment appealed.

Judgment reversed and case remanded for new trial.

W. C Adamson, pro se.

The justice of the peace had jurisdiction of this suit brought under section 4457, Kirby's Digest, art. 7, section 40, Const. Ark. The testimony brings the case clearly within the rule laid down by this court in 74 Ark. 551; 98 Ark. 529.

The statute creates a statutory liability and not a penalty. 68 Ark. 433; 69 Ark. 62; 90 Ark. 51; 4 Cyc. 326; 9 Cyc. 243; 69 U.S. 805.

Geo. L. Basham, for appellee.

The liability sought to be enforced here did not arise out of a contract, but rather out of a tort, a civil wrong, and the justice of the peace had no jurisdiction. Bishop on Non-Contract Law, 1889 Ed., § § 4, 5; Kirby's Dig. § § 4659, 4664; 56 Ark. 592; 43 Ark. 375; 48 Ark. 301; 103 N.Y. 242; 64 N.Y. 173; 8 O. 215; 72 Ark. 357.


KIRBY, J., (after stating the facts).

It is contended that the justice of the peace was without jurisdiction to hear and determine this cause, which, it is claimed, does not arise out of contract, and that the circuit court acquired none on appeal. The Constitution provides that justices of the peace have original jurisdiction in the following matters:

"First. Exclusive of the circuit court, in all matters of contract where the amount in controversy does not exceed the sum of one hundred dollars, excluding interest; and concurrent jurisdiction in matters of contract where the amount in controversy does not exceed the sum of three hundred dollars, exclusive of interest.

"Second. Concurrent jurisdiction in suits for the recovery of personal property where the value of the property does not exceed the sum of three hundred dollars; and in all matters of damage to personal property where the amount in controversy does not exceed the sum of one hundred dollars." (Art. 7, § 40, Const.)

"Section 4457. * * * In case the plaintiff and defendant compromise any suit for liquidated or unliquidated damages or any other cause of action after same is filed, where the fees, or any part thereof, to be paid to the attorney for plaintiff or defendant are contingent, the attorney for the party plaintiff or defendant receiving a consideration for said compromise shall have a right of action against both plaintiff and defendant for a reasonable fee, to be fixed by the court or jury trying the case."

Appellee contends that the attorney's fee provided by said section is a penalty, and that the justice's court had no jurisdiction to enforce its collection. The precise question has not been heretofore determined by this court.

In Nebraska National Bank v. Walsh, 68 Ark 433, 59 S.W. 952, the court, construing a statute which makes the president and secretary of a corporation failing to file the certificate required by it "liable to an action founded on the statute for all debts of such corporation contracted during the period of any such neglect or refusal," held that it created a statutory liability against such officers, and not a penalty within the meaning of section 5068, Kirby's Digest, which was governed by the statute of limitations relating to ...

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9 cases
  • McElroy v. State
    • United States
    • Arkansas Supreme Court
    • October 9, 1911
  • Beckler Produce Company v. American Railway Express Company
    • United States
    • Arkansas Supreme Court
    • December 18, 1922 comes under § 6950, sub-sec. 1, C. & M. Dig. The statute creating this liability is remedial. 68 Ark. 433; 95 Ark. 327; 58 Ark. 407; 100 Ark. 248; 90 F. 220; 12 Ga. 104. The burden was defendant to prove the action was barred. 86 Ark. 309; 92 Ark. 465. Bridges & Wooldridge, for appelle......
  • St. Louis, Iron Mountain & Southern Railway Co. v. Kirtley & Gulley
    • United States
    • Arkansas Supreme Court
    • October 18, 1915
    ...1096; K. C. Ft. Scott & Memphis Ry. Co. v. Joslin, 74 Ark. 551; Rachels v. Doniphan Lumber Co., 98 Ark. 529, 136 S.W. 658; Adamson v. Kay, 100 Ark. 248, 140 S.W. 13 and Hall v. Huff, 114 Ark. 206, 169 792. The latter statute is a borrowed one, coming from New York, after it had been constru......
  • Tillman v. State
    • United States
    • Arkansas Supreme Court
    • March 30, 1914
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