Findlay v. Carson

Decision Date09 April 1896
CourtIowa Supreme Court


Appeal from district court, Van Buren county; W. I. Babb, Judge.

As originally commenced, this was an action at law upon an injunction bond made and executed in a certain suit wherein defendants herein secured an injunction against the plaintiff, restraining him from selling coal in a particular locality and to certain persons. The defendants filed an answer and a cross bill in equity, denying that the injunction was wrongfully sued out, and asking that they have in this action a decree permanently enjoining the plaintiff from selling coal in violation of a certain agreement, which they claim he made, not to sell the same in a particular locality. The cause was thereupon transferred to the equity calendar, and tried to the court. The district court rendered judgment against defendants for the sum of $306.05, and dismissed their cross bill, and the defendants appeal. Affirmed.Wherry & Walker, for appellants.

Sloan & Sloan and W. A. Work, for appellee.


The pleadings in the case are very voluminous, and we will not do more than attempt to set out the substance of the issues. The action is to recover damages upon an injunction bond given by defendants in a suit brought by them against the present plaintiff in January, 1890. That action was to restrain the plaintiff herein from selling coal to any persons who were patrons of the mine owned by defendants in April, 1885, and from contracting or offering to contract with the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad Company to furnish it coal at Doud's Station for its use, and from selling any coal to the country trade in the vicinity of his mine. A temporary injunction was issued to that effect, and served upon the plaintiff, January 6, 1890; but this injunction was subsequently dissolved, on motion of this plaintiff, by the judge who issued the same, and a short time thereafter defendants herein named dismissed their case. It was claimed in that case that in 1885 these defendants purchased of the present plaintiff all of his interest in a certain coal mine held by him under a lease, and with the exclusive right to sell coal in the vicinity of the mine; and that this plaintiff had, in violation of his contract, started up a new mine, and was contracting and selling coal, to the great damage of these defendants. They afterwards amended their petition by alleging that, at the time of their purchase, the present plaintiff agreed not to enter the coal mining business in that vicinity, which was, as they alleged, a part of the consideration of the sale. All of these matters were denied by the plaintiff, and, as before stated, the injunction was dissolved, and the case dismissed. In the case at bar the defendants, in answer to plaintiff's cause of action on the bond, plead substantially the same matters they had alleged in their original petition as amended, in which they sought to obtain an injunction against the plaintiff, and say that they were then and now are entitled to an injunction, and they pray that the same do issue, and that they have damages from plaintiff for the violation of his agreement. The plaintiff denied the allegations of the defendants' cross bill, pleaded an estoppel and various other matters, which are not necessary to be stated. Such were, in substance, the issues on which the case was tried, which resulted in the judgment and order appealed from.

We are met at the threshold of the case with a proposition from appellee's counsel that the dissolution of the temporary writ of injunction by the court, and the dismissal of the original injunction suit by these defendants, are conclusive upon the question of the wrongful issuance of the writ; that such facts constitute such a judicial determination of the controversy, and such a breach of the conditions of the bond, as to entitle their client to the damages he is able to show he has sustained; and that the question as to the rightfulness of the injunction cannot be relitigated in this case. There are some authorities which may seem to sustain them in their position, and it may be that their contention is sound, but the record is not in such condition that we may determine the question. The appellee presented the point to the court below in various forms, and it ruled against him, and from these rulings no appeal has been taken. Consequently we cannot consider the question presented, but must try the cases on the issues as made before the lower court. It must be conceded, then, that, if the defendants have shown that they were entitled to the writ at the time it issued, this constitutes a defense to plaintiff's cause of action on the bond. It does not follow, however, that we cannot consider the dissolution of the injunction and the dismissal of the suit as probative facts in the case, although they cannot, in view of the record made, be held to be conclusive. It is manifest that these matters make out a prima facie case for the plaintiff, and cast upon the defendants the burden of showing that the injunction was rightfully issued. Boden v. Dill, 58 Ind. 273.

We turn, then, to the question, was the injunction rightfully issued in the first instance? The following are some of the undisputed facts: On and prior to April 1, 1882, one McGrew was the owner of a large tract of coal lands lying in section 24, township 70, range 11, in Van Buren county, Iowa; and on the day named he leased to one Hugh Findlay, a brother of the plaintiff, his coal mine located on said section of land, for the term of five years from date. By the terms of the lease, Findlay was “not to divide his time or attention with any other mine,” nor was McGrew “to lease any other party any coal mine to be operated during the life of this lease.” On October 10, 1882, Findlay...

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