Morris v. Basnight

Decision Date10 March 1920
Docket Number182.
Citation102 S.E. 389,179 N.C. 298
CourtNorth Carolina Supreme Court

Appeal from Superior Court, Craven County; Kerr, Judge.

Action by S. L. Morris against J. S. Basnight and others. Judgment for plaintiff, and defendant Newbern Lumber Company appeals. Affirmed.

Equity will not do a vain thing and decree the making of a title when the defendant has no longer any title to convey where title has passed to a bona fide purchaser free from any and all equities arising to the plaintiff by reason of his claim and the suit brought by him to enforce it.

Where corporation, having contracted to convey land, conveyed it to its president and substantial owner, pending purchaser's specific performance action, but before filing of complaint therein, specific performance will be decreed notwithstanding president's title, since the president took the land with notice of purchaser's rights, and was not a bona fide purchaser, and his purchase will be held ineffective and fraudulent as to such specific performance decree and rights thereby established.

The action was to enforce performance of a written contract to convey land; the same being in terms as follows:

"We the undersigned, Newbern L. Company, hereby promise and agree with S. L. Morris that in the event we should bid off at the Adams sale the W. B. Morris (decedent) lands and become the sole owners of same according to the terms of such sale that we will sell or cause to be sold to the said S. L. Morris for the sum of ($100) the tract of land where he now resides, the same lands intended for him by his late father, W. B. Morris, containing about 14 acres, more or less.

In witness whereof we hereunto set our hands and seals this, the 22d day of November, 1904. Newbern Lumber Co. [ Seal] by J S. Basnight, Secretary."

The facts in evidence chiefly relevant to the controversy appear to be as follows:

"On or about November 21, 1904, the plaintiff, Southy L. Morris, was living on the small tract of land now in controversy and which his father had laid off for him and on which he had been living about 38 years. Plaintiff was tenant in common with his brothers and sisters in the lands of their father, W. B. Morris, deceased, which the administrator had begun a proceeding to sell. The defendant Newbern Lumber Company, was anxious to buy the lands on account of the timber growing thereon, and J. S. Basnight, director, secretary, and general manager, of said Newbern Lumber Company, and Geo. Anderson, its superintendent of lands, were seeking to buy the interests of the several heirs before the administrator's sale. The secretary and general manager of the Newbern Lumber Company testified that Southy L. Morris at and before the execution of the deed for his interest required said secretary and general manager to give him the contract by which the Newbern Lumber Company agreed to reconvey to Southy L. Morris for the sum of $100 the 14 acres of land on which he was then living.

The administrator conveyed the Morris lands to Herbert C. Turner and W. B. Blades, March 22, 1905, and Herbert C. Turner, president of the Newbern Lumber Company, paid the purchase money. The company was then owned by H. C. Turner, J. S. Basnight, and D. W. Basnight. On April 5, 1905, J. S. and D. W. Basnight sold their stock in said company, and at the meeting of the stockholders on the 4th day of April, 1905, J. S. Basnight resigned as director, secretary, and general manager, and D. W. Basnight resigned as director and vice president. H. C. Turner resigned as president, and was elected vice president, and Charles H. Turner was elected director and president of said company.

Some time after April 5, 1905, H. A. Marshall, surveyor, was employed by the Newbern Lumber Company to survey the land which it had agreed to reconvey to plaintiff, Morris, and sent Geo. Anderson, its agent who looked after its lands, to show the surveyor the little piece which was to be cut off for Morris, so it could make a deed to Morris, and the company paid the surveyor for doing the work. The surveyor made the survey, marked the land off, and sent the description of the land to the company and to the plaintiff. The plaintiff tried to get his deed. He went to Basnight and to Anderson and told them he had his $100 ready to pay for it. Basnight told him not to be in a hurry. Finally Basnight told him to go to Geo. Anderson; that Basnight and the company were at outs and not to come to him any more.

The plaintiff continued in possession of his little piece of land after it was surveyed and marked off for him by the defendant company's surveyor, built stables, outhouses, kept up the fences, and paid the taxes. Neither the Newbern Lumber Company nor Mr. Turner ever demanded rent or possession of the land.

October 25, 1908, Charles H. Turner, Mabel S. Turner, his wife, and Herbert C. Turner, his brother, owned the Newbern Lumber Company, and they continued to own all the stock until February 1, 1913, when Charles H. Turner was president, his son, R. G. Turner, was vice president, and C. H. Hall, an employé, was secretary. April 27, 1912, Herbert C. Turner for $10 executed a quitclaim deed to the Newbern Lumber Company for all of his right, title, and interest in the Morris lands.

The summons in this action was issued November 4, 1913, served November 6, 1913, and on November 28, 1913, the Newbern Lumber Company, by deed executed by Charles H. Turner president, purported to convey to Charles H. Turner all of its real and personal property of whatever kind, consisting in part of the lands, timber rights, and privileges, conveyed to said company by 28 deeds, conveyances, and contracts, from various and sundry grantors, including the quitclaim deed of Herbert C. Turner for his interest in the Morris lands. At the time of making this deed to himself Charles H. Turner was president, his son, R. G. Turner, vice president, and C. H. Hall, employé, were the only stockholders in said company. Said R. G. Turner thinks he had one share of stock, and does not know how much Hall had then, but he has not any now. The complaint was filed on ...

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12 cases
  • Tuttle v. Junior Bldg. Corp.
    • United States
    • North Carolina Supreme Court
    • February 25, 1948
    ... ... Bank v. Oil Co., 157 N.C. 302, 73 S.E. 93; ... Lumber Co. v. Lumber Co., 185 N.C. 237, 117 S.E. 10; ... Trust Co. v. Transit Lines, supra; Morris v ... Basnight, 179 N.C. 298, 102 S.E. 389 ...           Hence ... proof of the due execution of the deed for the locus with the ... ...
  • Kelley v. Citifinancial Serv. Inc
    • United States
    • North Carolina Court of Appeals
    • July 20, 2010
    ...will be held ineffective and fraudulent as to decree rendered in the cause and the rights thereby established.” Morris v. Basnight, 179 N.C. 298, 303, 102 S.E. 389, 392 (1920). Because Defendants fail to recognize the operation of the doctrine of lis pendens, their argument on appeal also f......
  • Respess v. Rex Spinning Co.
    • United States
    • North Carolina Supreme Court
    • May 27, 1926
    ... ... Railroad, 91 N.C. 33; Taylor v. Navigation Co., ... 105 N.C. 484, 10 S.E. 897; Starnes v. Railroad, 170 ... N.C. 222, 87 S.E. 43; Morris v. Basnight, 179 N.C ... 298, 102 S.E. 389. The absence of some of the stockholders ... did not impair the force of the resolution. We have held ... ...
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    • United States
    • North Carolina Supreme Court
    • April 28, 1937
    ... ... Proximity Mfg. Co., 147 N.C ... 469, 61 S.E. 273; Merchants' Nat. Bank v. Dunn Oil ... Mill Co., 157 N.C. 302, 73 S.E. 93; Morris v ... Basnight, 179 N.C. 298, 102 S.E. 389; Citizens ... Lumber Co. v. Elias, 199 N.C. 103, 154 S.E. 54; ... Warren v. Littleton Orange Crush ... ...
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