Rogers v. Martin

Decision Date27 February 1924
PartiesROGERS v. MARTIN.
CourtFlorida Supreme Court

Error to Circuit Court, Hillsborough County; F. M. Robles, Judge.

Action by Deuty Rogers against O. E. Martin. Judgment for defendant. The court denied a motion in arrest of judgment and for a new trial, and plaintiff brings error.

Affirmed.

Syllabus by the Court

SYLLABUS

When plaintiff not entitled to recover on his evidence verdict may properly be directed for defendant. In the trial of any case at law in the several courts of this state after all the evidence for the plaintiff shall have been submitted, if it be apparent to the judge that no evidence has been produced on which the jury could lawfully find a verdict for the plaintiff, the judge may then direct the jury to find a verdict for the defendant.

Where relation established, tenant estopped to deny landlord's title. Where the relation of landlord and tenant is shown the tenant is estopped to deny his landlord's title. Winn v. Strickland, 34 Fla. 610, 16 So. 606; Jones v. Allen, 63 Fla. 204, 58 So. 784.

Ejectment will not lie for waste of leased premises and to recover damages therefor. Waste and abuse of leased premises may be stopped and damages therefor recovered for appropriate action, but ejectment will not serve that purpose.

Lessee holds leasehold estate during life of lease; lessor's estate limited to reversionary interest ripening into perfect title at expiration of lease. During the life of a lease, the lessee holds an outstanding leasehold estate in the premises which for all practical purposes is equivalent to absolute ownership. The estate of the lessor during such time is limited to his reversionary interest, which ripens into perfect title at the expiration of the lease.

COUNSEL

J. C. Poppell, of Plant City, and James B. Gibson Jr., of Tampa, for plaintiff in error.

Mabry, Reaves & Carlton, of Tampa, for defendant in error.

OPINION

TERRELL J.

The record here shows that Deuty Rogers, the plaintiff in error, on February 18, 1918, executed a deed to certain lands in Hillsborough county in favor of O. E. Martin, defendant in error. Martin seems to have been a friend of Rogers, and the deed was made on advice of counsel for the purpose of avoiding execution in a threatened suit.

April 1, 1919, Rogers executed a lease to Martin for five years of the identical premises described in the deed of February 18, 1918.

On March 14, 1919, Rogers executed a second deed to Martin, and Martin in turn executed his deed to Rogers, both deeds describing the lands described in the lease of April 1, 1919. The apparent reason for this second deed on the part of Rogers was that in February, 1918, when he executed the first deed, he had a lawful wife who did not join in it, while prior to March, 1919, his wife had been divorced; hence the second deed was on advice of counsel necessary to vest all his title in Martin.

In November, 1921, Rogers brought a suit in ejectment against Martin to recover the lands described in the lease and deeds herein. The case was tried in May, 1923, and at the conclusion of Rogers' testimony the jury returned an instructed verdict for Martin. From an order denying a motion in arrest of judgment and a motion for new trial, writ of error was taken to this court.

Was the trial court's instruction to the jury to return a verdict for the defendant Martin erroneous may be said to be the only question presented for our solution.

Section 2696, Revised General Statutes of Florida 1920, among other things, provides that in the trial of any case at law in the several courts of this state after all the evidence for the plaintiff shall have been submitted, if it be apparent to the judge that no evidence has been produced on which the jury could lawfully find a verdict for the plaintiff, the judge may then direct the jury to find a verdict for the defendant. Our statute seems to define the universal rule on this question. Bass v. Remos, 58 Fla. 161, 50 So. 945, 138 Am. St. Rep. 105; 9 R. C. L. 918, and cases therein cited.

The pleadings raised the issue of title and right of possession. The evidence was conclusive as to the execution of the deeds of February 18, 1918, and March 14, 1919, and the lease of April 1, 1919. The effect of all these deeds was to leave the title and right of possession to the lands in question in the plaintiff Rogers, but subsequent to said deeds he (Rogers) makes a five-year lease covering said lands to the defendant Martin, which under the terms thereof does not expire till April 1, 1924, during which time the right of possession is in Martin, subject of course to the provisions of said lease.

The contention of Rogers is that he is entitled to the possession of his lands leased to Martin because Martin, the lessee, has denied and repudiated his (Rogers) title to the said leased premises, and claims title therein.

The law is well settled, even from the days of feudal times that where the relation of landlord and tenant is shown the tenant is estopped to deny his landlord's title. Donald v McKinnon, 17 Fla. 746; McLean v. Spratt, 20 Fla. 515; Robertson v. Biddell, 32 Fla. 304, 13 So. 358; ...

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