Marguerite Coal Co. S. v. The Meadow River Lumber Co..

Decision Date14 April 1925
Docket Number(No. 5346.)
Citation98 W.Va. 698
PartiesMarguerite Coal Company et als. v. The Meadow River Lumber Company et al.
CourtWest Virginia Supreme Court

1. Courts Judgment ''Res Adjuclicata" and "Stare Decisis"

Distinguished.

Res adjudicata binds parties and privies; while stare decisis governs the decision of the same question in the same way in an action between strangers to the record. (p. 702.)

(Courts, 15 C. J. § 301; Judgment, 31 C. J. § 1391.)

2. Same After Decision of Question, Relying on Which Parties Have Transacted Important Affairs Which Would be Seriously Affected by Change of Rule, Former Decision Will be Adhered to.

Where a question has been decided by this Court, and parties relying on the decision, have transacted important affairs which would be seriously affected by a change of rule announced in said decision, this Court will adhere to it in subsequent cases, however it might be inclined to hold if the question were res Integra. (p. 703).

(Courts, 15 C. J. § 342.)

3. Syllabi in Prior Case Approved and Applied.

Points 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 of tire syllabus in Sun Lumber Company v. Nelson Fuel Company et al., 88 W. Va 61, approved and applied. (p. 703).

Hatcher, Judge, absent. (Courts, 15 C. J. § 842.)

(Note: Parenthetical references by Editors. C. J. Cyc. Not part of syllabi.)

Appeal from Circuit Court, Greenbrier County.

Suit by the Marguerite Coal Company and others against the Meadow River Lumber Company and others. From a decree for defendants, plaintiffs appeal.

Affirmed.

C. M. Ward, S. M. Austin, and Sanders, Crockett, Fox & Sanders, for appellants.

Charles S. Dice and Harold A. JRitz, for appellee.

Woods, Judge:

This suit was instituted for the purpose of enjoining the defendant, Meadow River Lumber Company, from cutting and removing the timber from a certain tract of land situated in Greenbrier County, known as the C. L. McClung land, it being the contention of the plaintiffs that they are entitled to have partition of said timber before any of the same is cut from said land, on account of an alleged undivided interest claimed by them therein. The subject matter of this litigation was before this Court in the case of Sun Lumber Company v. Nelson Fuel Company et al., decided February 22, 1921, and reported in 88 W. Va. 61. We deem it unnecessary to re-state all the facts so well and clearly stated in that opinion. We adopt them in their entirety, and will add only such additional facts as are necessary to a decision of the questions to be determined here.

As in the former case, so again in this, an interpretation of the reservation in the mineral deeds of C. L. McClung to the Gauley Coal Land Association, trustees, in 1890; the effect of the deed of said McClung to Amanda Shawver, in 1897; and the deed of said McClung to J. 0. and L. E. McClung, for the timber on said land, in 1909, are sought. Since the determination of the former suit the Sun Lumber Company conveyed the timber, under the aforesaid timber deed, to the Meadow River Lumber Company, defendant here, who is now the successor to all the rights of the said J. 0. and L. E. McClung under said deed. This sale was made, as appears from the answer of the defendant, in reliance upon the decision in the suit above referred to. Soon after this defendant acquired said timber it made preparations to cut and remove the same from said land, and the present suit was then instituted for the purpose already stated. The title acquired by the said G-auley Coal Land Association, trustees, to the minerals under the said mineral deeds passed by sundry mesne conveyances and is now vested in the Gauley Coal Land Company, a corporation. This company has divided this land, along with other lands owned by it, into tracts for the purpose of leasing the same for the mining of coal, and among the lessees are the Marguerite Coal Company, Francis Coal Company, Imperial Smokeless Coal Company, plaintiffs in this suit. The Nelson Fuel Company, defendant in the former litigation, is a defendant here. In these leases executed by the said Gauley Coal Land Company, its lessees were given all of the mining rights possessed by it under said mineral deeds. These lessee coal companies are now claiming the right to cut all of the timber on said lands for mining purposes, making the further claim that it will eventually require all of said timber in the mining of said coal. The lessee plaintiffs maintain that under the grant to them to use so much of the timber and stone on said land as might be required for the mining and removal of said minerals" that, if there was not conveyed to them any of the body of said timber, the grantor burdened the surface estate, which he retained wdth these rights which he granted to the mineral estate. That this grant is an incorporeal hereditament attached to and in favor of said mineral estate so granted and cannot be separated from it. That it is an easement appurtenant thereto. That equity wdll protect, by injunction, the threatened destruction or impairment of the use of this easement, Citing: Ilagan Co., Inc. v. Norton Coal Company, 119 S. E. (Va.) 153. In that case the coal company having the privilege of "using timber and stone as may be necessary for its mining purposes, '' sought an injunction to keep the owner of the land from selling the surface to prevent disturbance of an existing easement. In all the cases cited in their brief the point in issue is the protection of an easement. Outside of the plaintiff Margaret N. Laing, the appellee claims that as lessees of the Gauley Coal Land Company, the other plaintiffs are concluded by the said former adjudication. It appears that in the former suit the Nelson Fuel Company filed an answer in the nature of a cross-bill asking that the children and grandchildren of C. L. McClung and Amanda Shawwer and the Gauley Coal Land Company be made parties defendant, and process directed to be issued. It appears that the said company appeared by counsel at the submission of the case in this Court, and filed a brief in conjunction wdth the Nelson Fuel Company. Following the final decree the Gauley Coal Land Company, by counsel, along with the Nelson Fuel Company, moved the Court to modify and amend the decree, to the extent that the title to the timber be limited to the size on the date of the said timber deed. This relief was granted. The other plaintiff, Margaret N. Laing, claims under a deed dated March 29, 1924, from the Nelson Fuel Company, which attempted to convey to her the rights to it conveyed by Piney McClung and Ollie McClung Price, children of C. L. McClung. By this conveyance she claims a two-seventeenths interest in the timber. Whatever interest that Piney McClung and Ollie McClung Price attempted to convey, they received under the Amanda Shawver deed, the validity of which was determined in the former suit. It will be seen that whatever title she may have to the said timber, was obtained from the Nelson Fuel Company, who was a party defendant in the former suit. The Gauley Coal Land Company also claims a one-seventeenth interest in said timber obtained from a conveyance from Charles E. McClung, another child of C. L. McClung, whose interest is likewise dependent for its existence upon the effect given to the Amanda Shawver deed. The right of the Gauley Coal Land Company to have this one-seventeenth undivided interest in said timber allotted to it by partition is asserted by the plaintiffs in this suit. In view of this state of facts the appellee contends that the Amanda Shawver deed having been determined in the former suit to be only effective as an executory contract to convey a life estate, and as conveying no interest to the children or nephews and nieces of C. L. McClung, that Margaret N. Laing and the Gauley Coal Land Company and its lessees, plaintiffs here, have no interest under said deed. It further contends that the title now relied upon by Margaret N. Laing was in the Nelson Fuel Company at the time of the adjudication in the former suit, and the validity of that title was there involved, by the Nelson Fuel Company, and Margaret N. Laing, its successor, was in privity with it and bound by that adjudication. Gerber v. Thompson, 84 W. Va. 721. The Supreme Court of Virginia, in Steinman v. Clinchfield Coal Co., 121 Va. 611, states the rule: "One who has succeeded to the right, title or interest of another in real estate is a privy in estate, and is bound by judgments and decrees against his grantor. The judgment disposes of the rights of the parties and is a matter of public record. Its effect cannot be impaired...

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