Decision Date06 December 1950
Docket NumberNo. 5325,5325
CourtNew Mexico Supreme Court

[225 P.2d 141, 54 N.M. 355]

Frazier, Quantius & Cusack, Roswell, for appellant.

G. T. Watts, Roswell, for appellee.

McGHEE, Justice.

The appellee, plaintiff below, recovered judgment against the appellant, defendant below, for possession of a truck and $425.00 as damages for its unlawful detention.

The plaintiff had purchased the truck from A. E. Beavers who was indebted to the defendant for repairs thereon whileBeavers was its owner. According to the findings, Beavers and the plaintiff had entered into an agreement whereby the former was to haul logs for hire over public highways around Weed, New Mexico, for a part of the money to be thus earned. The plaintiff authorized Beavers to take the truck to the defendant's garage for repairs for which a charge of $21.96 was made. Beavers paid the defendant this amount and was given a receipted bill therefor, but the defendant refused to surrender the truck, stating that he was holding it until payment of the old bill, on which he credited the $21.96 payment. A refund of $5.96was made to Beavers for gas and oil in the truck, leaving an actual credit of $16.00. Following the refusal of his demand for possession of the truck unless the old Beavers' bill was first paid, the plaintiff instituted his action of replevin.

The trial court found that the plaintiff was the owner of the truck, that he had no knowledge of any indebtedness for repairs to the truck while Beavers was its owner, that he was entitled to its possession, and that the fair rental value of the truck during the time of its detention was $25.00 per day. It also found that the truck had not been licensed for the year of 1949, during which it was detained by the defendant, that it was carrying license plates for 1948 which had been issued for another truck, and that the plaintiff did not have a permit from the State Corporation Commission to operate it for hire on the highways of New Mexico.

The defendant claims there is not substantial evidence in the record to support the findings that the plaintiff was the owner of the truck, had purchased it without the knowledge of the old repair bill owed by Beavers, and that plaintiff was entitled to its immediate possession. He also attacks the sufficiency of the evidence to sustain the damages awarded.

There is substantial evidence, in our opinion, to sustain these findings, and they will not be set aside.

Errors are assigned on the making of other findings of fact, refusal to make certain requested findings, as well as on the conclusions of law made and requested. In view of the disposition we have decided to make of the case, such assignments become immaterial.

The defendant assigns error on the allowance of damages for the detention of the truck by reason of plaintiff's violation of the motor vehicle laws.

The plaintiff was operating such truck in clear violation of Sec. 68-238, 1941 Compilation, by displaying thereon license plates for a previous year which were issued for another truck. He was also operating it in violation of Sec. 68-225, 1941 Compilation, which prohibits the operation of a truck on the highways of New Mexico without license plates issued for the currentregistration year. Disregarding the lack of a permit, the violation of either of the above statutes is a misdemeanor. Should we overlook these violations of our motor vehicle laws by the plaintiff and affirm an award for damages in his favor because the act of the defendant prevented his earning money by the illegal operation of the truck?

It is a well settled rule of law that a person cannot maintain an action if, in order to establish his cause of action, he must rely, in whole or in part, on an illegal or immoral act or transaction to which he is a party, or where he must base his cause of action, in whole or in a part, on a violation by himself of...

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  • Bank of New Mexico v. Freedom Homes, Inc.
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    • 6 Mayo 1980
    ...without a license. To recover, Anguiano must rely on his unlicensed activities, made unlawful by § 61-29-17(A), supra. Desmet v. Sublett, 54 N.M. 355, 225 P.2d 141 (1950) (A) person cannot maintain an action if, in order to establish his cause of action, he must rely, in whole or in part, o......
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