Commodores Point Terminal Co. v. Hudnall

Citation283 F. 150
Decision Date09 August 1922
Docket Number215.
CourtUnited States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Southern District of Florida

283 F. 150

HUDNALL et al.

No. 215.

United States District Court, S.D. Florida.

August 9, 1922

[283 F. 151]


Under equity rule 29 (198 F. xxvi, 115 C.C.A. xxvi), a motion to dismiss the bill of complaint must be denied, unless the motion clearly discloses that on the allegations of the bill which are taken as true it must be dismissed on final hearing for want of equity.

The federal courts have their own independent equity jurisprudence and procedure, yet a state statute, involving a rule of property and not in conflict with the federal system, should be respected and applied in the federal court, particularly in a case removed from a state court.

A bill in equity to quiet title is permitted by state statute, and upon the removal of the case to the federal court the state statute permitting such bill will be applied.

Under Judicial Code, Sec. 38 (Comp. St. Sec. 1020), federal courts will proceed, in a suit removed there, as if it had been commenced in such court, and the same proceedings taken as had been taken in the state court prior to its removal.

Under Florida statutes, a bill in equity may be brought to remove clouds on a title without prior adjudication at law.

Equitable defenses may be interposed in actions in ejectment in Florida, but only negative defenses may be made on the law side, and no affirmative relief can be obtained.

However, in a case properly removed from a state court, the federal court independent of state statute has jurisdiction to quiet the title to lands without prior adjudication of the title at law.

The case of Caro v. Pensacola, etc., 19 Fla. 766, cited and applied in this case, to wit, that, 'where there is a peculiar state of property in that it is a large tract of land adjoining a growing city and there are a large number of persons claiming possession and title from the same source, as against one or more persons claiming title from the same source, equity will interfere in behalf of those in possession to declare the right, and will enforce it by a perpetual injunction; this without the prior establishment of the right at law, and without proof of threatened irreparable injury.'

Where there is a class of persons claiming title separately to parcels of land through a common source, and such class is so numerous as to make it impracticable to bring all members of it before the court, under equity rule 38 (198 F. xxix, 115 C.C.A. xxix), one or more members may maintain a bill to quiet title in their own behalf and for the benefit of all other members of the class who may become parties thereto.

It is no objection to a bill to quiet title that complainants have not established their title at law, where equity has jurisdiction of the subject-matter, and where complainants possess and are asserting an equitable title.

The holders of separate parcels of land under a common source of title may join as complainants in equity against common adversaries to prevent a multiplicity of suits.

Where a number of persons have separate claims against the same party arising from a common source, involving the same legal rules and similar facts, and the whole matter can be adjudicated in a single suit, all such claimants may unite as complainants against every common adversary, or one may sue in his own behalf and the behalf of the others.

If, in a bill in equity brought by more than one complainant against more than one defendant, there is one principal right to be established common to all the complainants and adverse to all the defendants, then other rights or causes of action common to less than all the complainants and adverse to less than all the defendants may be averred, as well if such other rights or causes of action are not wholly disconnected from the principal right sought to be established, and a court of equity, in order to give complete and adequate relief, may adjudicate and determine such other rights and causes of action.

Equity rule 26 (201 F. v, 118 C.C.A. v) held to permit more than one plaintiff to join in a single bill of complaint, where the causes of action are joint, or where sufficient grounds appear for uniting the causes of action to permit the convenient administration of justice.

Equity rule 26 (201 F. v, 118 C.C.A. v) does not prohibit joinder of plaintiffs whose interests are several, where sufficient grounds appear for uniting their causes of action in a single suit.

Equity rule 26 (201 F. v, 118 C.C.A. v), when it speaks of the causes of action being joint, does not mean a technical legal privity, such as a joint contract; but the rule will be satisfied where there is a single question of law and fact common to all the complainants, as where in a suit to quiet title they claim separate parcels of land under a common source of title.

Multifariousness of persons and causes of action is largely a matter of convenience. Ordinarily, if there is equity in the bill, a motion to dismiss the entire bill on the ground of multifariousness of persons or causes of action should be denied, unless it appears that the multifariousness will interfere with the convenient administration of justice.

Laches cannot be imputed to one in possession of land under an equitable title for delay in resorting to a court of equity for protection against the holder of a legal title.

A community of interest in the question of law and fact [283 F. 152] involved in the controversy, as distinguished from a common right, is sufficient to justify the exercise of equity jurisdiction to prevent a multiplicity of suits.

A claim of title under the statute of limitations, or by adverse possession, may be considered and determined in a case where a court of equity obtains jurisdiction by reason of the equities stated in the bill, and this in order that complete and adequate relief be given by considering and determining the title so arising under the statute of limitations or by adverse possession. A title under the statute of limitations or by adverse possession may be a sufficient base for a bill in equity to remove or prevent a cloud on such title arising from claims of other persons out of possession.

The objection urged by defendants to the bill of complaint in this cause, that it includes lands derived from two distinct sources of title as applied to the uplands and filled-in or made lands adjacent thereto, is not well taken. In this case the ownership of such filled-in lands and proof of title thereto depends upon the title to the uplands. Title to the filled-in lands cannot be proved, without proving the title to the uplands, and vice versa.

The act of 1921 (chapter 8537, Laws of Florida), among other purposes, was confirmatory in its nature and was made effective as of December 27, 1856, and continuously thenceforward and thereafter, and confirmed to the riparian proprietors and to their grantees and successors in right, according to their several rights, the title, right, and interest given under said act of 1921, which would include the improvements to their said riparian lands beyond high-water mark made prior to 1921.

Where a motion to dismiss a bill of complaint is addressed only to a part of the bill, such part should be set forth in the motion, and be pointed out with such certainty as to give specific information as to what part the defendant would not be required to answer, if the prayer of the motion were granted.

Under the Spanish law in force in the Floridas at the time that those provinces were ceded by Spain to the United States, as such law has been construed by the Supreme Court of Florida, marriage, so far as property was concerned, was to be considered in the light of a contract of partnership, and property purchased or debts incurred during the existence of the marriage relation were deemed to be common, that is to say, were deemed to be the property and debts of the marital partnership, and upon the dissolution of the marriage by death the common property was subject to the common debts, and the surplus or net result remaining after the payment of the common debts was what came into partition between the surviving spouse and the heirs of the dead spouse.

The survivor of a marital partnership, as it continued to exist in Florida after its cession by Spain, like the surviving partner of a conventional partnership, possessed the equitable right to sell the common or partnership (usually called ganancial) real estate for the purpose of paying the common or partnership debts, and in equity the deed of the surviving spouse evidencing such sale will be deemed to have conveyed the entire equitable title to such real estate, and a court of equity in appropriate proceedings will require the heirs of the predeceased spouse to convey the legal title held by them to the purchaser or those holding under him, and will enjoin such heirs from the prosecution of ejectment suits, pending and threatened.

Where a widow, the survivor of a marital partnership under the laws of Florida, purports to convey the fee-simple title to common or ganancial property, and for more than 75 years thereafter the survivor's deed remains unchallenged by the heirs of the husband, such acquiescence by such heirs constitutes a construction favorable to the power of the survivor to sell and convey the entire equitable title, and the heirs of the husband cannot repudiate the efficacy of the survivor's deed.

Where the bill of complaint in a suit to quiet title to real estate asserts an estoppel against the defendants, an averment showing means of knowledge on the part of the defendants is tantamount to an averment of actual knowledge.

Where a claimant of land or an interest therein remains silent for many years, and during such period the property has changed hands many times, has been subdivided, and is made the site of a growing city under claim of title...

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22 cases
  • Pembroke v. Peninsular Terminal Co.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • January 16, 1933
    ......608; Thiesen. v. G., F. & A. R. Co., 75 Fla. 28, 78 So. 491, L. R. A. 1918E, 718: Commodores Point Terminal Co. v. Hudnall (D. C.) 283 F. 150, 178. The Act of 1921 embraces the words,. ......
  • Holly Sugar Corporation v. Fritzler, 1633
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    • February 16, 1931
    ...... plaintiff. The evidence is clear on this point. No question. was raised as to the meaning of the contract until ...Allinson, 188 U.S. 56, 78, 23. S.Ct. 244, 47 L.Ed. 380. In Commodores Point Terminal Co. v. Hudnall, (D. C.) 283 F. 150, 171, the court said ......
  • TH Mastin & Co. v. Kirby Lumber Co.
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    • April 29, 1936
    ...Transfer Co., 169 U.S. 237, 241, 18 S.Ct. 307, 42 L.Ed. 730; United States v. Devereux (C.C.A.) 90 F. 182, 187; Commodores Point Terminal Co. v. Hudnall (D.C.) 283 F. 150, 161; Herndon v. Vick, 89 Tex. 469, 475, 35 S.W. 141; Taylor v. Watkins, 26 Tex. 688, 695; Baldwin v. Goldfrank, 88 Tex.......
  • Price v. Gordon
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    ......2. C. J., p. 289; Commodore's Point Term. Co. v. Hudnall, 283 F. 150; Williams v. Mitchell, 112. Mo. 300; ......
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