Lee v. Patten

Decision Date18 July 1894
Citation34 Fla. 149,15 So. 775
PartiesLEE v. PATTEN.
CourtFlorida Supreme Court

Appeal from circuit court, Manatee county; G. A. Hanson, Judge.

Bill by George Patten against Edmund Lee. Decree for complainant, and defendant appeals. Affirmed.

Syllabus by the Court

SYLLABUS

1. Where G., being the owner of a military bounty-land warrant gave it to L., for the purpose of entering with it the number of acres of land that it called for, for the use and benefit of G., and L., entered the land with such warrant in his own name, and took a patent thereto in his own name, without the knowledge or consent of G., and, in ignorance of the way in which such entry had been made, G. took possession of the land at or soon after such entry, and he and his alienees for many years thereafter, with the knowledge of L exercised acts of ownership over the same, and L. during all that time asserted no adverse claim to or right therein held, that from such entry a trust resulted in favor of G., and that L. acquired by such entry only the bare legal title, and held it in trust for the use and benefit of G. and his alienees, and that, upon bill filed for that purpose, L. would be decreed to execute the legal title to said land to an alienee of G., who had succeeded to all of G.'s rights therein.

2. The well-settled rule is that, although the complainant may not be entitled to the relief specifically prayed for, he may, under the general prayer, obtain any other specific relief consistent with the case made by the bill, and that does not conflict with the relief specifically prayed.

3. Where a written instrument, offered in evidence by a complainant in a bill, contains enough to sustain the material substance of a pertinent allegation of the bill in reference to it, it is admissible to sustain such allegation, even though such instrument varies, on its face, in an immaterial particular, from the description of it given in such bill.

4. Where a judgment is not void on its face, and is rendered by a court having competent jurisdiction, the presumptions are all in favor of its regularity and validity until vacated by some proper proceeding instituted directly for the purpose of correcting errors therein; and it cannot be collaterally attacked by parties or their privies, or by strangers whose rights are not affected thereby.

5. The law is very strict in its prohibition against the disclosure by attorneys of communications made to them in confidence by their clients.

6. Laches in assailing a fraud will not be imputed until the discovery of the fraud by the party affected thereby.

COUNSEL Macfarlane & Pettingill, for appellant.

J. B. Wall and Sparkman & Sparkman, for appellee.

OPINION

TATLOR J.

In February, 1882, George Patten, the appellee, filed his bill in equity in the circuit court for Manatee county against Edmund Lee, the appellant, for the purpose of compelling the defendant to convey to him all that tract of land in Manatee county, Fla., described as being the S. 1/2 of the S. 1/2 of section 278 township 34 S., range 17 E., excepting the W. 1/2 of the S.W. 1/4 of the S.E. 1/4 of said section, that the theretofore been sold to one Stephen A. Brown. The suit resulted in a final decree in the complainant's favor, declaring the title to said land to be in the defendant, Lee, as trustee for the complainant, and ordering him to convey the same by deed to the complainant. From this decree the defendant, Lee, appeals.

The bill alleges, in substance, that about January, 1854, one Robert Gamble, being the owner of a bounty-land warrant for 160 acres of land, delivered the same over to the defendant, Lee, authorizing and requesting him to locate said warrant for him (Gamble) on the S. 1/2 of the S. 1/2 of section 27, township 34 S., range 17 E.; that Lee, in pursuance of said authority and request, located the said warrant on said land for the sole use, benefit, and behoof of said Gamble, but, intending and contriving to perpetrate a fraud upon Gamble, entered said tract of land with said warrant in his own name, instead of in the name of the said Gamble, as he should have done, and falsely and fraudulently represented to the said Gamble that he had entered said tract of land in his (Gamble's) name; that Gamble, relying upon the representations of Lee as to the entry of said land, entered upon and took possession thereof with the full knowledge of the defendant, and, without objection or protest on his part, cut timber therefrom, paid the taxes thereon, and in every way held and used said lands as his own; that, in the year 1858, Gamble, with the knowledge of the defendant, and without objection from him, sold and conveyed said land, with other lands, to John C. Cofield and Robert M. Davis, who were partners under the name and style of Cofield & Davis, taking a mortgage from them on said lands for the purchase money therefor, which mortgage was afterwards assigned to and became the property of one Allen M. McFarlan; that the said Cofield & Davis, with the knowledge of Lee, and without objection from him, entered upon and took possession of said land, cut and used the timber thereon, paid the taxes thereon, and held and used said land as their property; that, during the year 1873, said lands were sold under a decree of foreclosure of said mortgage in favor of said Allen M. McFarlan, and were purchased by your orator (George Patten), with the knowledge of, and without any notice, objection, protest, or other interference of or from, the defendant; that your orator immediately entered upon and took possession of said lands as his own, and paid the taxes thereon, save and except the W. 1/2 of the S.W. 1/4 of the S.E. 1/4 of said section, containing 10 acres, that was sold by him to one Stephen A. Brown about the year 1877; that, during the year 1877, the said Lee, for the first time to the knowledge of your orator, laid claim to said land, and, upon investigation thereof, your orator ascertained that they had been entered in his (Lee's) name on or about the 22d day of September, 1854; that he has applied to the defendant to execute and deliver to him a deed to said land, but he refuses to do so, and now claims said land as his own, and has been endeavoring to sell the same as his property, which claim of said Lee throws a cloud upon the title of your orator to said land, and greatly hinders and obstructs him in the enjoyment thereof. The prayer of the bill, as originally filed, was that the defendant, Lee, be decreed to make, execute, and deliver to the complainant, Patten, a good and sufficient deed of conveyance to said land, saving the portion thereof conveyed to said Stephen A. Brown, and prayed also for general relief, such as the facts of the case might entitle him to.

The defendant filed an original and amended answer, in which he denies that Gamble authorized or requested him to locate said warrant upon said land for him and for his sole use and benefit, and he denies that he ever represented to Gamble that he had entered said land for him with said warrant. He denies, also, that Gamble ever took possession of said land or paid the taxes thereon, or used the same as his own lands. He admits that Gamble cut and used the timber on said land, but avers that it was done under an express agreement between him and Gamble. He admits obtaining from Robert Gamble the bounty-land warrant with which he made the entry of this land, but says that he got it from him for his own use and benefit, for the purpose of procuring therewith for himself another tract of land in the same locality, upon which another party had made a settlement and improvements, which improvements he had traded for, and upon which there was a quantity of live-oak timber, and that, when he obtained the warrant from Gamble, he agreed verbally with him to allow him to cut this live-oak timber therefrom; that no price was ever agreed upon to be paid by him to Gamble for the land warrant, and that all the consideration he ever expected to pay for said warrant was to allow Gamble to cut the timber on said land, and considered the passing of said warrant to him by Gamble more a gratuity than for any money consideration; that they were all laboring to build up a good community for the general welfare, and working in perfect harmony and in close and intimate relations of friendship; that Gamble was engaged in the business of getting live-oak timber for market, and, the live-oak timber situated on the tract of land that he desired to locate for himself with said warrant being of no vlue to him, but of great value to Gamble, who was in that business, he agreed to allow Gamble to cut the live oak therefrom whenever he should enter same, as a remuneration for his kindness in letting him have the warrant. He avers that Gamble duly assigned and transferred the warrant to him as his property; and that, ever since the date of such transfer to him, it has been his property, and he at once forwarded it to the United States district land office, to be located upon the land that he thus desired, and for the improvements and buildings upon which he had traded, as aforesaid, with another party, but was at once informed by the land officers that it could not be located on that particular land; that, upon receiving this information, he at once called upon Gamble for advice as to how he (the defendant) could utilize said warrant, upon which Gamble told him to locate the warrant upon any land that he chose, so that he (Gamble) might cut the timber therefrom; that he never did agree with Gamble to return said warrant to him, or to locate it on any land for Gamble's use and benefit, and he denies that he ever represented to Gamble that he had located it on any land for his (Gamble's) use and...

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16 cases
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    • United States
    • Florida Supreme Court
    • April 30, 1926
    ...65 Fla. 186, 61 So. 445; Howell v. Commercial Bank, 51 Fla. 460, 40 So. 76; De Cottes v. Clarkson, 43 Fla. 1, 29 So. 442; Lee v. Patten, 34 Fla. 149, 15 So. 775; 12 Ency. & Pr. 187, 196; 21 C.J. 166; People ex rel. Gaynor v. McKane, 78 Hun, 154, 28 N.Y.S. 981; Williams v. Wetmore, 51 Fla. 6......
  • Klinger v. Milton Holding Co.
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    • March 10, 1938
    ... ... render, the presumptions are all in favor of its regularity ... and validity until vacated by some proper proceeding ... instituted directly for the purpose of correcting errors ... therein and cannot be attacked collaterally. Lee v ... Patten, 34 Fla. 149, 15 So. 775; Finley v ... Chamberlin, [136 Fla. 73] 46 Fla. 581, 35 So. 1. A decree ... that is absolutely null and void, however, may be ... collaterally assailed. But the decree that is voidable only, ... because irregular or erroneous, must be moved against in time ... by ... ...
  • Johnson v. Mckinnon
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    ... ... render, the presumptions are all in favor of its regularity ... and validity until vacated by some proper proceeding ... instituted directly for the purpose of correcting errors ... therein, and cannot be attacked collaterally. Lee v ... Patten, 34 Fla. 149, 15 So. 775; Finley v ... Chamberlin, 46 Fla. 581, 35 So. 1. A decree that is ... absolutely null and void, however, may be collaterally ... assailed. But the decree that is voidable only, because ... irregular or erroneous, must be moved against in time by ... motion to ... ...
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