Patterson Land Co. v. Lynn

Decision Date28 July 1924
Citation51 N.D. 329,199 N.W. 766
PartiesPATTERSON LAND CO. et al. v. LYNN.
CourtNorth Dakota Supreme Court
Syllabus by the Court.

Where, on appeal in an equity case, and a trial de novo is had, and a mandate is issued to the district court directing it to enter judgment which will dispose of all matters in controversy, the district court has no discretion, but must enter a judgment in compliance with the decree of this court.

However, where this court does not put an end to the litigation, or does not finally determine all questions involved, and leaves certain matters open for the lower court to consider and decide, the fact that the district court departed from the mandate of this court does not render the judgment void but only erroneous.

The instant case was remanded to the trial court for certain further proceedings. It was set for hearing; both parties appeared, and evidence was adduced. The trial court made findings, conclusions, and order for judgment. No appeal was taken from the judgment, and no other proceedings had for the purpose of reviewing or correcting the same until more than six years after service of notice of entry thereof, when defendant moved the district court to vacate the judgment. For reasons stated in the opinion, it is held that the district court was correct in denying such motion.

Appeal from District Court, Emmons County; Geo. M. McKenna, Judge.

Action by the Patterson Land Company and others against George W. Lynn. From an order denying a motion to vacate judgments, defendant appeals. Affirmed.Lynn & Lynn, of Linton, for appellant.

Young, Conmy & Young, of Fargo, for respondents.

ENGLERT, District Judge.

On the 25th day of June, 1910, in Emmons county, Patterson Land Company, Joseph M. Hackney, William G. Hoerr, and Carlos N. Boynton each commenced an action against George W. Lynn to recover title to several hundred acres of land. On July 19, 1912, the trial court found in each case in favor of the defendant. Appeals were taken to this court. On March 6, 1914, in Patterson Land Co. v. Lynn, 27 N. D. 391, 147 N. W. 256, this court reversed the lower court in all of said cases, and ordered “a decree entered ordering the defendant Lynn to transfer the lands in controversy to the Patterson Land Company upon their paying to him the several amounts which he has expended therefor, including a reasonable sum to be allowed by the trial court to cover his expenses incident to obtaining the titles aforesaid, and such taxes as he has paid thereon, and any improvements which he may have placed upon the premises; and that upon a failure of defendant to execute such deed, to make and file a decree operating to transfer such title.”

On July 10, 1914, the district court entered an order for judgment, pursuant to the order of this court, but reserving therein the right, in case transfers were not voluntarily made and their respective rights thereunder not adjusted, to determine, after hearing, the amount due the defendant, and to make any further decree necessary in the premises to carry out the mandate of this court.

Apparently it was impossible for the parties to reach an agreement as to their respective claims and demands in conformity with the decree of this court. Some of the land involved had also been conveyed by the defendant to his brother, sister, and son. So, on notice, a hearing was thereafter ordered by the district court to determine the matters in controversy and to carry out the order of this court.

On that hearing both sides presented their evidence, and thereafter both sides presented findings of fact to the court, and, after considering the same, the court made its own findings as to the amount due the defendant, and deducted therefrom the plaintiffs' cost judgments, and also found that defendant had transferred his title as to a portion of the land in controversy to third parties, and as to that the court found the value thereof, and, after assessing the values against the defendant and making offsets, directed, among other things, money judgments to be entered against the defendant as to the difference between the amount due him and the value of the lands transferred by him. Judgment was entered thereon February 21, 1917. Notice of entry of judgment was given, and no appeal taken.

On June 21, 1923, defendant made a motion in each of the four cases to vacate the judgments entered on July 10, 1914, and on February 21, 1917. The matters were considered, heard, and decided as one motion. Hearing was had thereon on September 17, 1923. On October 27, 1923, the district court denied the same.

The case comes here on appeal on a denial of this motion.

Before taking up the merits of this appeal, it might not be out of place to give a little of the history of this litigation before this court.

The main decision was written in Patterson Land Co. v. Lynn, 27 N. D. 391, 147 N. W. 256, and filed March 6, 1914, rehearing denied April 11, 1914. Per curiam decisions in Hoerr v. Lynn, 27 N. D. 449, 147 N. W. 263;Hackney v. Lynn, 27 N. D. 458, 147 N. W. 263;Boynton v. Lynn, 27 N. D. 457, 147 N. W. 263, all disposed of on the governing opinion in 27 N. D. 391, 147 N. W. 256, supra.

In 1917 a motion was made by the defendant to recall the remittitur and reinstate the appeal in the foregoing cases. This motion was denied in Patterson Land Co. v. Lynn, 36 N. D. 341, 162 N. W. 702, on April 28, 1917.

In 1919 the defendant made application to this court, on motion, “to vacate the determination, order, judgment, and decree of this court, made in the above-entitled cause on the 6th day of March, 1914, and to direct the district court of Emmons county to vacate any and all judgments, decrees, and acts done under the direction of this said judgment of this court, on the ground that this court had no jurisdiction to grant the relief pretended by said judgment and decree to be granted, and said judgment and decree is absolutely void and of no effect.”

The motion was denied in Patterson Land Co. v. Lynn, 44 N. D. 251, 175 N. W. 211, on June 21, 1919.

In 1923 another case growing out of the judgments involved in the present appeal came before this court, and was decided in Lenhart v. Lynn (N. D.) 194 N. W. 937, on July 7, 1923, and rehearing denied on September 10, 1923.

In legal strategy, number of legal battles, and judicial decisions rendered, these cases have long surpassed the judicial history of the now famous Jones Calf Case from the state of Iowa. These cases, like Banquo's ghost, will not down. Thirteen years have come and gone since these actions were first commenced on July 25, 1910, and they, in one form or another, are still in court. Since that time the original trial judge and chief counsel for the plaintiffs have been called by death, and the personnel of this court has been entirely changed.

It is now contended that it affirmatively appears, from the records in each case, “that none of the seven judgments as entered in the district court are in accordance with the new judgment rendered by the Supreme Court, and directed to be entered, and that each of them should be vacated, and judgments entered that do comply with the judgment or mandate of the Supreme Court.”

[1] 1. It is well established that a lower court, on reversal, must comply with the mandate of the appellate court. This sufficiently appears from the authorities hereinafter cited.

But parties may consent to the entry of a decree in a lower court different from that directed by the mandate or judgment of a higher court.” Spring Lake Drainage & Levy District v. Stead et al., 263 Ill. 247, 104 N. E. 1014.

Since all parties appeared on the hearing in 1917, submitted evidence, prepared findings of fact, and submitted them to the court, and judgment was entered by the court on its own findings on February 21, 1917, and notice thereof given, and no appeal taken, consent and waiver might well be implied. But we shall not rest our decision there.

In his supplemental brief counsel says:

“As to making an offset by Judge Nuessle we will be frank to say that, while he did not have authority to offset under the mandate of the Supreme Court, yet we are not so certain but he would have the authority under the general law permitting offsets to be made in matters of this kind, and we are not urging a correction in this respect.”

He further says:

We are complaining as to the money judgments that have been entered against us for the value of certain tracts of lands, and should be vacated for the reason that Judge Nuessle was without jurisdiction to render such judgment, and being without jurisdiction, his attempt to render judgment is absolutely void.”

Under the decree of this court the lower court was to determine a reasonable sum to be allowed to defendant for obtaining titles, and such taxes as he had paid, and for any improvements he had placed on the premises. This is virtually the language of a part of the...

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6 cases
  • Collins v. Simms, 30
    • United States
    • North Carolina Supreme Court
    • May 2, 1962
    ...on appeal * * *.' See also: In re Waters of Doan Creek in Walla Walla County, 162 Wash. 695, 299 P. 383 (1931); Patterson Land Co. v. Lynn, 51 N.D. 329, 199 N.W. 766 (1924); Gayheart v. Childers, 137 Ky. 472, 125 S.W. 1085 (1910). Fischer v. Blank, 81 Hun. 579, 31 N.Y.S. 10 (1894) is very s......
  • Radermacher v. Sutphen, 6720
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court
    • July 20, 1939
    ... ... the appellate court does not make the lower court's ... judgment void but erroneous." (Patterson Land Co. v ... Lynn, 51 N.D. 329, 199 N.W. 766.) ... See, ... also, State v. Huston, ... ...
  • Wallace v. Workmen's Comp. Bureau
    • United States
    • North Dakota Supreme Court
    • July 8, 1940
    ...court had no discretion; but was required to enter a judgment in compliance with the decree of this court. See Patterson Land Company et al. v. Lynn, 51 N.D. 329, 199 N.W. 766. In State ex rel. Wehe, etc., v. Frazier, etc. 48 N.D. 381, 184 N.W. 874, we show, “It is the duty of the lower cou......
  • The Northern Trust Company, a Corp. v. Havelock Equity Exchange, a Corp.
    • United States
    • North Dakota Supreme Court
    • July 28, 1924
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