In re Horse Heaven Irr. Dist.

Decision Date13 November 1941
Docket Number28423.
Citation118 P.2d 972,11 Wn.2d 218
CourtWashington Supreme Court

Proceedings in the matter of the dissolution and disorganization of the Horse Heaven Irrigation District, wherein a petition was filed by Walter R. Weller and others, trustees of the district, for instructions respecting the rights of various classes of persons claiming shares in assets. From an order denying right of certain classes to participate in the distribution of assets, J. N. Burkhart and others, claimants appeal.

Order modified and affirmed.

BEALS MAIN, SIMPSON, and DRIVER, JJ., dissenting.

Appeal from Superior Court, Benton County; Timothy A. Paul, Judge.

Moulton & Powell, of Kennewick, for appellants Burkhard and others and respondents Smith and others.

Stephen E. Chaffee, of Sunnyside, and B. E. McGregor, of Prosser, for appellants Brokaw and others.

Andrew Brown, of Prosser, for appellant Mineah.

Crowe &amp Stearns and Charles Snyder, all of Walla Walla, for respondents Weller and others.

Harcourt M Taylor, of Yakima, for respondents Prior and others.

James P. Rogers, of Sunnyside, Wright & Wright, of Seattle, amici curiae.

MILLARD Justice.

By this action the parties sought dissolution of Horse Heaven Irrigation District and the distribution of its assets to the persons entitled to receive the same. The action was brought in the superior court for Benton county pursuant to chapter 79, Laws of 1897 as amended by chapter 149, Laws of 1939, Rem.Rev.Stat. §§ 7526-7530, which provides for the disorganization and liquidation of irrigation districts, which have no bonded indebtedness, and the winding up of the districts' affairs. In the opinion in State ex rel. Pryor v. Paul, 5 Wash.2d 90, 104 P.2d 745, we recited most of the facts leading to the questions presented in the case at bar.

In the case cited we directed the superior court to retain jurisdiction of the matter and proceed to distribute the trust estate to the persons entitled to share therein. Following the filing of the remittitur a hearing was had upon the petition of the trustees of the district for instructions respecting the rights of various classes of persons claiming shares in the assets. The court entered an order establishing the right of one class of claimants to participate in the distribution of the assets and denying the right of other classes to participate therein. Those who were denied the right of participation have appealed.

The suggestion of amici curiae that the appeals should be dismissed upon the ground that the order sought to be here reviewed is not appealable is without merit.

By the order from which the appeal is prosecuted the superior court adjudged that only those persons who owned real estate in the Horse Heaven Irrigation District at the time of its dissolution were entitled to share in the distribution of the assets of the district, and that all other persons should be excluded from the distribution. The trial court then ordered that a list of the property holders be prepared and filed with the court, upon which a hearing should be had, for the purpose of adjudicating the specific individuals entitled to share, and the proportion which each should receive.

Unless the order from which the appeal is taken comes within the terms of the appeal statute (Rem.Rev.Stat. § 1716) it is not an appealable order. The statute (Rem.Rev.Stat. § 1716) provides that any party aggrieved may appeal to the supreme court from the final judgment entered in any action or proceeding.

The order in the case at bar finally determines the class of persons who shall share in the distribution of the assets and excludes other classes. Under the order there remains for future determination only the adjudication as to specific persons in the class, to which reference is made in the order, who shall share in the distribution and the proportionate amount which each shall ultimately receive. This appeal brings Before this court for review the court's order establishing the class or group of claimants who shall share in the assets. As to this issue the trial court rendered its final judgment and adjudged that appellants are not entitled to share in the trust estate. The order from which the appeal was taken finally and definitely determines the respective rights of the claimants to participate in the distribution. Upon this phase of the case the order constitutes a final judgment, and is appealable. Bishop v. Lynch, Wash., 111 P.2d 996; Bishop v. Illman, Wash., 115 P.2d 151.

The questions presented on this appeal involve the distribution of assets of approximately $385,000 in value of which the directors of the irrigation district find themselves in possession upon final dissolution of the district. The several classes of persons who appeared in the trial court and asserted their claims may be described as: (1) Those who predicate their right to share upon the fact that they at one time paid assessments upon land in the district, although they do not now own any land within the district. (2) Those who have at all times owned land within the district and paid assessments. (3) Those who now own land within the district, but have paid no assessments thereon because their land was acquired subsequent to the last assessment. (4) Those who are assignees of assessment payers. (5) Those who are contract purchasers of land within the district. (6) Some who have acquired land within the district subsequent to its dissolution.

The pertinent portion of the order entered by the trial court reads as follows:

The pertinent portion of the order entered by the trial court reads as follows:

'It is determined and decreed by the court that it is the duty of the trustees to distribute all assets, lawfully coming into their hands for distribution as a result of the dissolution of Horse Heaven Irrigation District, to the property holders in Horse Heaven Irrigation District and that the term 'property holders', as used in the statute controlling this matter and as used in his order, is now construed for all purposes in connection with this proceeding to mean and to be limited to all persons, including corporations, who, at the time of the entry of the order declaring said district dissolved, owner the lands within the boundaries of the district as said boundaries existed at the time of said dissolution; that the holder of the equitable title to any land is entitled to take as against the holder of the legal title thereto; and that mortgages or other lien holders, as such, are not entitled to any part thereof; that the rights of said owners to said assets became vested at the time of the entry of said order of dissolution, and any conveyance of said lands thereafter does not of itself, transfer to the grantee the owner's interest in said assets.

'It is further determined and ordered by the court, that assessments have at all times been equal upon all the lands within the district, that the total acreage within the district at the time of its dissolution was approximately 79,932.16 acres and that the distribution to each property holder shall be based upon the proportion the acreage owned by such property holder bears to said total acreage within the district.'

The Horse Heaven Irrigation District comprising approximately 330,000 acres of land was organized in 1916. In 1917 the electors of the district authorized the issuance of general obligation bonds in the amount of $18,250,000 of which bonds to the value of $222,000 were delivered in payment for certain maps, surveys, water rights, etc. The remainder of the bonds authorized were cancelled in 1926. Attempts to enter into contracts for the construction of the contemplated irrigation district were unsuccessful. Assessments were, however, levied against the lands in the district and prior to October, 1933, the district, through foreclosure of irrigation district assessments, had acquired title to all lands within the district except approximately ninety-four thousand acres. The greater proportion of the bonds which had been issued were, with accrued interest, in default. A new bond issue of $120,000 was authorized and sold, and the earlier bonds redeemed. By November, 1938 (excluding lands owned by the United States, the state of Washington and the district itself), approximately eighty thousand acres within the district remained in private ownership. Pursuant to a notice and petition, the district was dissolved and disorganized by order approved by the superior court January 31, 1939. The former directors of the district were continued as trustees, pursuant to the mandate of this court in State ex rel. Pryor v. Paul, supra, and have applied to the court for the distribution of the remaining assets of the district. It was upon a hearing upon that petition that the trial court entered the order from which the appeal was taken. The statute which provides for the dissolution of irrigation districts will be found in Rem.Rev.Stat. § 7526 et seq. Section 7530, so far as pertinent, reads as follows:

'Upon the disorganization of any irrigation district under the provisions of this chapter, the board of directors at the time of the disorganization shall be trustees of the creditors and of the property holders of said district for the purpose of collecting and paying all indebtedness of said district, in which actual construction work has been done, and shall have the power to sue and be sued. It shall be the duty of said board of directors, and they shall have the power and authority, to levy and collect a tax sufficient to pay all such indebtedness, which tax shall be levied and collected in the manner prescribed by law for the levying and collection of taxes of irrigation

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36 cases
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    ... ... Cherry Point Fish Company v. Nelson, 25 Wash. 558, 66 P. 55; In re Horse Heaven Irrigation District, 11 Wash.2d 218, 118 P.2d 972; Cory v. Nethery, ... Wooster, 175 Wash. 272, 27 P.2d 328; and State ex rel. Tacoma School Dist. v. Kelly, 176 Wash. 689, 30 P.2d 638.' ...         With these ... ...
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    • 30 de janeiro de 1964
    ... ... As stated in In re Horse Heaven Irr. Dist., 11 Wash.2d 218, 226, 118 P.2d 972, 976: ... 'It is a ... ...
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    ...Hubbard v. Grandquist, 191 Wash. 442, 71 P.2d 410 (1937); Cady v. Kerr, 11 Wash.2d 1, 118 P.2d 182 (1941); In re Horse Heaven Irrigation District, 11 Wash.2d 218, 118 P.2d 972 (1941); Turpen v. Johnson, 26 Wash.2d 716, 175 P.2d 495 (1946).3 As to after-acquired property unknown to the parti......
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