Rose City Mercantile Co. v. Miller

Decision Date11 October 1926
Docket Number(No. 177.)
CourtArkansas Supreme Court

Suit by Lizzie U. Miller and another against the Rose City Mercantile Company. Decree for plaintiffs, and defendant appeals. Affirmed.

Wills & Strangways, of North Little Rock, for appellant.

J. C. Marshall, of Little Rock, for appellees.


Certain preliminary pleadings and motions were filed in this cause and are discussed in the briefs, but a stipulation filed upon the submission of the case in the court below renders it unnecessary to consider them. In this stipulation it was agreed "that this cause shall be tried as a suit brought for the purpose of enforcing the rent lien of plaintiffs against defendant for cotton appropriated by it on which the rent had not been paid."

In support of this cause of action, the plaintiffs offered testimony to the following effect: Mrs. H. T. Urquhart, by written contract, leased her farm to two tenants. One portion of the farm was leased to Son Lewis and another portion to Crawford Romus. The rent of one tenant was $1,750, and the rent of the other was $1,250. After executing these lease contracts Mrs. Urquhart conveyed the farm to her two daughters, Mrs. Miller and Mrs. Ragland, who are the plaintiffs in this suit. W. H. Miller, the husband of one of the plaintiffs, was agent for both the plaintiffs in the collection of the rents. The Rose City Mercantile Company, hereinafter referred to as the company, a corporation of which J. L. Atkins was president, made advances of money and supplies to share croppers of Lewis and Romus to enable them to make a crop during the year 1923, and to secure these advances took a mortgage on the crop of these share croppers.

Miller testified that Atkins stated to him that he would like to handle the crop to protect the interest of the store, which both understood to mean the Rose City Mercantile Company, and that pursuant to this conversation he wrote Atkins the following note:

                      "Little Rock, Ark., August 7, 1923

"Mr. John L. Atkins, North Little Rock, Arkansas — Dear Sir: Referring to our conversation, please find below memo of various rent notes maturing on or before November 1, 1923.

                Crawford Remus..............................$1,250 00
                Son Lewis................................... 1,750 00
                Wm. Holman..................................   250 00

"You are authorized to collect the above rent notes out of the first cotton, when picked, ginned and sold. You to furnish the Union Trust Company of Little Rock, Arkansas, each Monday morning weekly with statement showing amount of cotton ginned and sold and to whom sold, and to deliver the proceeds as collected to the Union Trust Company to be credited on the above notes until final payment is made."

Miller further testified that he later went away on a trip, assuming that the cotton would be sold by Atkins and the proceeds applied to the payment of the rent, but upon his return he found that after selling the cotton Atkins had applied only one half the proceeds of the crop of the share croppers to the accounts of the plaintiffs at the bank. The other half had been credited to the accounts of the share croppers with the company. This suit was brought against the company to recover the proceeds of the sale of the share croppers' cotton.

There are but few questions of fact in the case, the principal one being the capacity in which Atkins acted in selling the cotton, it being one of the contentions of the company that Atkins was a mere trustee, whose actions herein set out did not render it liable for the proceeds of the share croppers' cotton, although this money was received and applied by it to the credit of the share croppers' accounts.

Another statement of this contention is that the company had nothing to do with the cotton or proceeds of the sale except that Atkins placed cash in the hands of the company as trustee to hold and pay out on the order of Atkins, who bought cotton for the Lesser-Goldman Cotton Company, when Atkins made out tickets showing the sum due for cotton purchased and to whom the money should be paid, and that in selling the cotton pursuant to the authority conferred in the note from Miller, set out above, Atkins was not the agent of the company, and the company, is not, therefore, liable for the destruction of the plaintiffs' landlord's lien.

It is also contended that the plaintiffs did not show such ownership of the land as authorized them to maintain this suit for conversion, there being no relation of landlord and tenant between the plaintiffs and the company, and further, that it was not shown that the plaintiffs had not been paid their rent.

It is finally insisted that as the cotton had been sold to a...

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