Patterson v. McKay

CourtSupreme Court of Arkansas
Citation134 S.W.2d 543,199 Ark. 140
Docket Number4-5628
PartiesPATTERSON v. MCKAY
Decision Date13 November 1939

Appeal from Poinsett Chancery Court; J. F. Gautney, Chancellor affirmed.

Decree affirmed.

C T. Carpenter, for appellant.

Claude F. Cooper and T. J. Crowder, for appellee.

OPINION

BAKER J.

The appellant challenges the soundness of the decree of the chancery court wherein a tax sale and donation certificate were held invalid, and title was confirmed in appellee.

No fault is found in the declaration that the sale for taxes was not in substantial conformity to law. But appellant relies upon a charge that the court was without jurisdiction. The defendant in this action was in possession, and, on account of his possession, he pleaded a lack of jurisdiction in the trial court to grant any relief to the plaintiff, by first filing a motion to dismiss, which being denied, he pleaded the same fact of his possession as an answer. Appellant insists that this suit is one to quiet title, and that since appellee is not in possession he may not invoke the jurisdiction of the chancery court. For the position taken the appellant insists the suit must be regarded as a statutory proceeding, provided for by § 10598, Pope's Digest, et seq. This is an erroneous conception of the intent and purpose of these statutes providing for the exercise of chancery jurisdiction to quiet title to real property. A recognition that such statutes (Chapter 136, Pope's Digest) do not grant jurisdiction, but only establish a statutory method of exercising a jurisdiction already existing, prior to the enactment of the statutes mentioned, will make clear and understandable many seeming inconsistencies in decisions of the courts.

Plaintiff had pleaded his title showing a deraignment thereof entitling him to question the validity of the tax sale.

The defendant relies principally upon the case of Jackson v. Frazier, 175 Ark. 421, 299 S.W. 738. The language employed in the opinion presented for our consideration follows: "That equity jurisdiction to quiet title, independent of statute, can only be invoked by a plaintiff in possession holding the legal title. The reason is that where the title is a purely legal one, and someone else is in possession, the remedy at law is plain, adequate, and complete, and an action by ejectment cannot be maintained under the guise of a suit to quiet title. In such case, the party in possession has a constitutional right to trial by jury."

It is asserted that the foregoing announcement is reaffirmed in Fisk v. Magness, 193 Ark. 231, 98 S.W.2d 958.

In the cited authorities the proceedings amounted to an ejectment action filed in chancery. In the Fisk case the defense was adverse possession for a period of sixteen years. Certainly, this might not be treated as a cloud upon the title of the plaintiff. We agree with appellant that in no case wherein the action is purely a possessory one may courts of chancery be invoked.

The statutes, Chapter 136, Pope's Digest, instead of creating a new tribunal or conferring jurisdiction or enlarging jurisdiction already in being, provides for proceedings and merely point out or declare a method of employing or using a remedy under jurisdiction that already existed. The chancery courts provided for by our Constitution, art. VII, § 15, has not been and cannot be enlarged or diminished by legislative action. Gladdish v. Lovewell, 95 Ark. 618, 130 S.W. 579; Hester v. Bourland, 80 Ark. 145, 95 S.W. 992; Walls v. Brundidge, 109 Ark. 250, 160 S.W. 230; Ann. Cas. 1915C, 980.

The last cited case is the best known to the public generally and arose out of the so-called Brundidge Primary Election Law, wherein it was provided that the results of primary elections might be contested in courts of chancery.

We do not offer a more extended discussion of this matter for the reason that we think the principle must be universally recognized.

We do not impair in any manner any announcement made in the cases cited, but the case at bar, and others of like kind, will be easily distinguishable from all those presented by appellant, as controlling authority on the propositions under consideration. The well-recognized principle that in any proceeding wherein a plaintiff seeks to gain possession of lands held by a defendant, the remedy is by ejectment, a purely legal method to obtain possession of the land in dispute, unless plaintiff's title is an equitable one, not cognizable in a law court.

If, however, the foregoing chapter on "quieting title" were repealed, jurisdiction would still exist and the power would remain in the chancery court to remove clouds upon titles.

In this case plaintiff has shown his chain of title, which authorizes him to invoke the aid of chancery to set aside or cancel a void tax sale as...

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15 cases
  • Titan Oil & Gas, Inc. v. Shipley, 74--115
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Arkansas
    • December 2, 1974
    ...Constitution and such cases as Nethercutt v. Pulaski County Special School District, 248 Ark. 143, 450 S.W.2d 777; Patterson v. McKay, 199 Ark. 140, 134 S.W.2d 543; Gladish v. Lovewell, 95 Ark. 618, 130 S.W. 579; Hester v. Bourland, 80 Ark. 145, 95 S.W. 992. For the most part these cases fa......
  • Ingram v. Luther, 5--4331
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Arkansas
    • March 4, 1968
    ...of one party as against that of the other. The doctrine that the statutes do not control was recognized and applied in Patterson v. McKay, 199 Ark. 140, 134 S.W.2d 543. There is was asserted that the court of equity had no jurisdiction to cancel a tax sale and donation certificate because t......
  • Lowe v. Cox, 4-7919.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Arkansas
    • June 3, 1946
    ...the defects of the original bill. Pearman v. Pearman, supra, and cases cited." Appellant also relies on the case of Patterson v. McKay, 199 Ark. 140, 134 S.W.2d 543. There the cases of Jackson v. Frazier, 175 Ark. 421, 299 S.W. 738, and Fisk v. Magness, 193 Ark. 231, 98 S.W.2d 958, which re......
  • Lowe v. Cox
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Arkansas
    • June 3, 1946
    ......Pearman v. Pearman, 144 Ark. 528, 222 S.W. 1064, and cases. cited.". . .          Appellant. also relies on the case of Patterson v. McKay, 199 Ark. 140, 134 S.W.2d 543. There the cases. of Jackson v. Frazier, 175 Ark. 421, 299. S.W. 738, and Fisk v. Magness, 193 Ark. 231, ......
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