Pierson v. Borough of Haddonfield

Citation66 N.J.E. 180,57 A. 471
PartiesPIERSON v. BOROUGH OF HADDONFIELD et al. WILLITS COAL & LUMBER CO. v. BOROUGH OF HADDONFIELD et al.
Decision Date23 February 1904
CourtNew Jersey Court of Chancery

(Syllabus by the Court.)

Bills by Arthur N. Plerson against the borough of Haddonfield and others and Willits Coal & Lumber Company against the same defendants. Decrees for complainants.

The bill of complaint in the first of these cases was filed on July 14, 1902, by Arthur N. Plerson, a lien claimant under the statute of 1802 (Gen. St. p. 2078), and makes defendants the borough of Haddonfield (a municipality of this state), which had contracted for the construction of a system of sewer and sewer disposal, and also John Quinlan, the contractor for the work and material: the City Trust, Safe Deposit & Surety Company of Philadelphia, surety for Quinlan's performance of the contract; and other parties who assert rights as lien claimants against the portion of the contract price remaining in the hands of the borough of Haddonfield. For convenience of reference the defendant the City Trust, Safe Deposit & Surety Company of Philadelphia will hereinafter be referred to as the "City Trust Company." The bill sets forth a copy of the contract with Quinlan, and of the bill of items of the goods furnished to him by the complainants, together with the credits for payments made thereon, and of the notice served upon the borough of Haddonfield to retain for the complainant, Pierson, the balance due him, which is alleged to be $3, 191.58. It alleges that Quinlan began to work on the contract shortly after September, 1901, and continued to work thereunder until the month of April, 1902, at which time there was due to him under the contract the sum of $5,825, which sum the bill alleges is still owing by the borough of Haddonfield to Quinlan, and that it is subject to the lien of the complainant; that Quinlan is indebted to the complainant in the sum of $3, 191.58 for material furnished to him in the execution of the contract; that on the 17th day of April, 1902, pursuant to a statute of this state passed to secure the payment to laborers, traders, etc., furnishing materials, etc., towards the performance of any public Improvement, approved March 30, 1902 (Gen. St p. 2078), the complainant filed the proper statutory notice with the borough, claiming a lien upon the moneys remaining in its control. The complainant charges that the City Trust Company claims to be entitled to the moneys in question, and the complainant insists that, if it has any lien thereon, it is subject to the complainant's rights therein. The bill also sets forth that the Willits Coal & Lumber Company filed on April 23, 1902, a notice of lien, for materials furnished to the amount of $881.16; that the City Line Lumber Company filed on the 19th of April, 1902, a like notice for materials to the amount of $75.78; that Albert Speth filed on the 29th of April, 1902, a like notice for labor done to the amount of $14.76; that on June 24, 1902, James C. Dobbs filed a like notice for material furnished to the amount of $53.00; that H. Fred Lauer, on the 14th of July, 1902, filed a like notice for material furnished to the amount of $30. The bill prays a decree that its claim is a valid lien upon the funds in the hands of the borough of Haddonfield, precedent to all other claims except that of Albert Speth, and that the borough of Haddonfield may be decreed to pay out of the funds due or to grow due on the contract the amount claimed by the complainants, and for further and other relief, etc.

The borough of Haddonfield, by its answer, alleges that Quinian in the month of April, 1902, having at that time been paid all the money then due him under the terms of his contract, abandoned his work thereunder, and left the borough; that thereupon the City Trust Company (which was the surety to the borough for the faithful performance of Quinlan's contract) began the completion of the contract after its abandonment by Quinian. The borough admits that it holds the moneys falling due on the contract after the default of Quinian, and stands ready to make such payment of the same to such person or persons as the court may in this cause deem to be thereto entitled.

The City Trust Company answers, admitting that Quinian entered upon the performance of the contract, and continued to perform it until the month of April, 1902, and denies that the sum of $5,825 was then due Quinian from the borough. It alleges that Quinian abandoned the work before the contract was completed, and that thereunder whatever moneys remained due on the work done or to be done were held by the borough of Haddonfield to be first applied for the completing of the contract leaving to the credit of Quinian only such balance (if in fact any there were) as might remain after meeting all costs, charges, and expenses incurred in completing the portion of the contract left unperformed by Quinian. The City Trust Company further alleges that on the 9th of September, 1901, it executed a bond for the suretyship in the sum of $16, 000 to the borough of Haddonfield for the faithful performance by Quinian of the said contract, and upon the abandonment of the contract by Quinian the City Trust Company did, with the consent and approval of the borough of Haddonfield, undertake to prosecute the work of completing the contract which Quinian had abandoned, and is presently engaged in completing the work required by the contract to be done which Quinian had left undone. The defendant the City Trust Company insists that as surety for Quinian to the borough of Haddonfield it is entitled to be subrogated to all the moneys in the hands of the borough of Haddonfield; and that the defaulting contractor, Quinian, and the complainant and those creditors of Quinian who claim liens against the contract price for materials furnished or work done for Quinian before he abandoned the contract, are entitled only to such balance of the contract price as may remain after the contract work has been faithfully completed and paid for by applying thereto the portion of the contract price earned by Quinian before he abandoned the work; that the right of the defendant the City Trust Company, as surety for Quinian, to have the contract price applied to the completion of the work, is superior to any right or privilege of the complainant or other lien claimants upon the moneys due Quinian. The defendant further claims that a portion of the pipe furnished by the complainant during the prosecution of the work by the defendant the City Trust Company was unfit for use; that the amount due therefor cannot be ascertained until the completion of the work; that the defendant the Willits Coal & Lumber Company removed material from the work after it had delivered the same. The City Trust Company also denies that any of the statutory lien claimants have a valid claim to the funds remaining in the hands of the borough, and insists that the whole of that fund should be applied to satisfy the moneys expended by the City Trust Company as surety in the completion of the work.

The defendants Albert Speth and the City Line Lumber Company answer, setting up their several rights under the statutory notice served upon the borough officers, insisting that the complainant Pierson did not serve a lawful notice of his claim, and that he has no lien on the fund, and as to the City Trust Company insisting that its claim, if any it has, is subject to the liens of the said defendants.

The Willits Coal & Lumber Company also filed its bill of complaint in this court on July 18, 1902, against the borough of Haddonfield, for the payment of the fund. The bill is of substantially the same character as that above set forth. Answers to the same effect as those above recited have been filed thereto by the City Trust Company and other defendant litigants. The same counsel appear in both causes.

At the hearing it was agreed by stipulation that both of said causes should be tried together. Under the pleadings and the above stipulation, the two causes have come to a hearing at the same time.

William D. Lippincott and Thomas E. French, for complainants.

David O. Watkins and Lincoln L. Eyre, for City Trust & Safe Deposit & Surety Co., defendant.

William T. Boyle and Henry S. Scovel, for the borough of Haddonfield, defendant .

Francis D. Weaver, for City Line Lumber Company, defendant.

GREY, V. C. (after stating the facts). The bill in this case is filed under the mechanic's Hen statute of this state to secure the payment of laborers and other persons who furnish work and materials for public improvements in municipalities of this state, approved March 30, 1802 (Gen. St p. 2078). The proofs show that a notice was, in accordance with the statute, filed against the fund remaining in the custody of the borough of Haddonfield, by the complainants, on the 17th day of April in the year 1002, with the proper officer of the borough, claiming the sum of $3,101.58 from the portion of the contract price due or to grow due to John Quinlan, who had contracted with the borough to construct a system of sewers and sewer disposal for a named price. The borough of Haddonfield is a municipality of this state. The contract with Quinlan was made on the 8th day of September, 1901, and required that he should furnish both the work and material for the system of sewage and sewage disposal projected within that borough. The defendant the City Trust Company, by a bond which accompanied Quinlan's contract, became surety for his...

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3 cases
  • Buskirk v. State-Planters' Bank & Trust Co.
    • United States
    • West Virginia Supreme Court
    • June 6, 1933
    ... ... creditor may enforce at will. Pierson v ... Haddonfield, 66 N.J.Eq. 180, 192, 57 A. 471. The right ... is "a pure equity" and will be ... ...
  • In re Fagan
    • United States
    • New Jersey Supreme Court
    • March 18, 1904
  • Johnson v. Fred L. Emmons, Inc.
    • United States
    • New Jersey Court of Chancery
    • February 16, 1934
    ...It may be conceded that the lien claim attached to this sum (this retained 15 per cent.); indeed, it is so held in Pierson v. Haddonfield, 66 N. J. Eq. 180, 57 A. 471 (decided under the statute of 1892, the terms of which are essentially the same as those of the present statute, in this reg......

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