Grant Timber Manufacturing Company v. George Gray

Decision Date01 February 1915
Docket NumberNo. 136,136
Citation59 L.Ed. 501,35 S.Ct. 279,236 U.S. 133
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

Messrs. Horace H. White, J. R. Thornton, and Henry Moore, Jr., for plaintiff in error.

Messrs. Patrick H. Loughran and John H. Mathews for defendant in error.

Mr. Justice Holmes delivered the opinion of the court:

This is a possessory action for land, coupled with a demand for damages for timber taken by the defendant, the plaintiff in error, from the premises. After it was begun, the defendant brought a petitory suit to establish its title to the land, and sought for a stay of proceedings in the present case until its title could be adjudicated, setting up that to allow the plaintiff to recover the value of the timber without proving ownership would be contrary to the 14th Amendment and a taking of the defendant's property without due process of law. The plaintiff recovered a judgment for possession and money damages, subject to a stay of execution, but the supreme court struck the stay of execution out. It seems also to have ordered the defendant's petitory suit to be dismissed. The ground for both orders was art. 55, Code of Practice. 'He who is sued in a possessory action cannot bring a petitory action until after judgment shall have been rendered in the possessory action, and until, if he has been condemned, he shall have satisfied the judgment given against him.' The only question is whether this act is valid. Some argument was attempted as to the scope and proper interpretation of the law, but we have nothing to do with that.

It would be a surprising extension of the 14th Amendment if it were held to prohibit the continuance of one of the most universal and best known distinctions of the mediaeval law. From the exceptio spolii of the Pseudo-Isidore, the Canon Law and Bracton to the assize of novel disseisin the principle was of very wide application that a wrongful disturbance of possession must be righted before a claim of title would be listened to; or at least that in a proceeding to right such disturbance a claim of title could not be set up; and from Kant to Ihering there has been much philosophizing as to the grounds. But it is unnecessary to follow the speculations, or to consider whether the principle is eternal or a no longer useful survival. The constitutionality of the law is independent of our views upon such points.

No doubt...

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22 cases
  • Mitchell v. Grant Company 8212 6160
    • United States
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • May 13, 1974
    ...under this Court's precedents that issues can be limited in actions for possession. Indeed, in Grant Timber & Mfg. Co. v. Gray, 236 U.S. 133, 35 S.Ct. 279, 59 L.Ed. 501 (1915) (Holmes, J.), the Court upheld such limitations in possessory actions for real property in Louisiana. See also Bian......
  • Lindsey v. Normet 8212 5045
    • United States
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • February 23, 1972
    ...the same factual situation that may assert valid legal or equitable defenses or counterclaims. In Grant Timber & Mfg. Co. v. Gray, 236 U.S. 133, 35 S.Ct. 279, 59 L.Ed. 501 (1915) (Holmes, J.), the Court upheld against due process attack a Louisiana procedure that provided that a defendant s......
  • Loeblich v. Garnier, 4772
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Louisiana — District of US
    • March 23, 1959
    ...166 So. 477, and the many cases cited therein; see, also, Grant Timber & Mfg. Co. v. Gray, 131 La. 865, 60 So. 374, affirmed 236 U.S. 133, 35 S.Ct. 279, 59 L.Ed. 501; cf., LSA-C.C. Arts. 3450, 3454, 3455; Code of Practice Art. 53. Such a possessor may protect his possession by injunction, e......
  • Island Airlines, Inc., In re
    • United States
    • Hawaii Supreme Court
    • February 27, 1961
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