Holt v. Parsons

Decision Date03 November 1903
Citation45 S.E. 690,118 Ga. 895
PartiesHOLT et al. v. PARSONS et al., Com'rs.
CourtGeorgia Supreme Court

Syllabus by the Court.

1. A party is not entitled to an injunction when, with full knowledge of his rights, he has been guilty of delay and laches in asserting them, and has negligently suffered large expenditures to be made by another party, on whom great injury would be inflicted by the grant of the injunction.

2. A mere threat to take legal proceedings is not sufficient to prevent the application of this rule.

Error from Superior Court, Wilcox County; D. M. Roberts, Judge.

Action by B. R. Holt and others against T. M. Parsons and others commissioners. Judgment for defendants, and plaintiffs bring error. Affirmed.

D. B Nicholson and Crum & Jones, for plaintiffs in error.

J. L Bankston and M. B. Cannon, for defendants in error.


It appears from the record that there has been a controversy in Wilcox county for several years as to the location of the county courthouse. Several elections have been held to determine the question, and there has been much litigation in the courts and controversy in the Legislature. In October, 1902, this issue was made in the election of the commissioners of roads and revenues. That election resulted in the election of commissioners, a majority of whom had declared themselves in favor of the erection of a new courthouse at Abbeville. In February, 1903, the board of commissioners of roads and revenues met and passed an order condemning the old courthouse as unsuitable for a courthouse and unsafe for the preservation of the records of the county. The board also ordered that an architect be employed to submit plans for a new courthouse, to cost not more than $50,000. In pursuance of this order an architect was employed, and he submitted plans to the board. On March 2d these plans were accepted by the board, which ordered that advertisement be made calling for bids for the erection of the new building in accordance with the plans which had been accepted. This advertisement described the building to be erected, stated the number of stories, the size and materials of the building, and the number and location of the various rooms to be contained therein. All of these orders were placed on the minutes of the board, and were subject to inspection by the citizens of the county. In reply to the advertisement three bids were made, and that of J. H. McKenzie & Sons, undertaking to erect the building for $49.380, being the lowest and best bid, was accepted. On the same day, May 4th, McKenzie & Sons entered into a contract with the board by which they bound themselves to erect the courthouse by June 1, 1904. The order of the board required the contractors to give bond and security in double the amount of the bid. On May 8th Nicholson, an attorney at law, wrote the contractors a letter. This letter does not appear in the record, but the reply of the contractors does. In their reply they acknowledged receipt of Nicholson's letter, and noted that he would use all legal means to enjoin the work. Whether, in writing this letter, Nicholson represented the present plaintiffs in error or himself, the record does not disclose. The contractors proceeded with the performance of their contract by purchasing materials for the building to the amount of more than $24,000, and expending more than $5,000 for work and labor, the total expenditure amounting to a little more than $30,000. On August 3, 1903, the board of commissioners of roads and revenues met and assessed the county taxes for ordinary and extraordinary purposes. Among the latter it levied a tax of $30.86 per $1,000, to be collected in 1903, to pay the contractors the contract price for the erection of the new courthouse. On August 20th thereafter the present plaintiffs in error presented their equitable petition to the presiding judge of the superior court of the circuit, seeking to enjoin the collection of this tax on the ground that it was unnecessary, exorbitant, and excessive. Many affidavits from the citizens and taxpayers of the county were filed and read before the judge as to whether the tax was unnecessary and excessive in amount, but the view we take of the case renders it unnecessary to discuss this question. The answer of the board of commissioners of roads and revenues, and its codefendants, the tax collector and the contractors, distinctly raised the point that the petitioners were not entitled to an injunction, because by their conduct they had permitted the contract to be made, and had permitted the contractors to expend large sums of money in the performance of the contract, and that petitioners, by reason of their delay and laches, were not entitled to any equitable relief. It was stated in the argument of counsel for both sides that the learned judge who tried the case denied the injunction on this ground, though the reason for his decision is not shown by the record. Whether he did so or not does not matter, as his judgment will be affirmed by this court if it is correct in any view of the case.

We have given a great deal of consideration to the case on account of the fact that the tax is apparently a very large one to levy upon the taxpayers in one year, but, after a full investigation, we have come to the conclusion, upon principle and authority, that the judgment of the court below was right. Equity favors the vigilant, and does not extend its aid to the negligent or the sleepy. It will not stay the erection of a public building at the instance of parties who through remissness or indolence, have slept over their rights until after another has expended large sums of money in the erection of the building. The petitioners were remiss in not having earlier sought to assert whatever rights they might have had in the premises. As before stated, the controversy as to the location of the courthouse had existed in that county for several years. The majority of the commissioners were elected with a view to erecting a new...

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1 books & journal articles
  • Real Property - Linda S. Finley
    • United States
    • Mercer University School of Law Mercer Law Reviews No. 63-1, September 2011
    • Invalid date
    ...organizations that owned the property on which the 198. Id. at 598, 706 S.E.2d at 406 (alteration in original) (quoting Holt v. Parsons, 118 Ga. 895, 899, 45 S.E. 690, 692 (1903)) (internal quotation marks omitted). 199. 275 Ga. App. 265, 620 S.E.2d 490 (2005). 200. 214 Ga. App. 229, 447 S.......

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