St. Louis, Iron Mountain & Southern Ry. Co. v. Anthony

Decision Date30 April 1881
CourtMissouri Supreme Court
PartiesTHE ST. LOUIS, IRON MOUNTAIN & SOUTHERN RAILWAY COMPANY, Appellant, v. ANTHONY.

Appeal from Washington Circuit Court.--HON. J. B. ROBINSON, Judge.

REVERSED.

Thoroughman & Pike and Wm. R. Donaldson for appellant.

The compromise agreement having been executed and acted upon, was valid and binding upon respondent as collector. (1) The right to sue and be sued gives to a corporation the right to compromise claims. Dillon on Munic. Corp., (2 Ed.) p. 488; Petersburg v. Mappin, 14 Ill. 193 Supervisors v. Bowen, 4 Lansing 24; Chenango v. Birdsall, 4 Wend. 453. (2) Each county in this State is a body corporate, or quasi corporate, having, among others, the power to sue and be sued. The powers of a county as a body politic can only be exercised by the county court; they are the managing agents of the corporation; they have the control and management of the property, real and personal, belonging to the county. 1 Wag. Stat., 441, § 9. (3) If it be claimed that the county court undertook to give away property belonging to the county and that it had no power to do this, we answer, there was no gift in any proper sense of the term. “It was a gift in the same sense that every party to a controversy gives when he relinquishes a portion of a claim he makes against an adversary to effect a settlement and avoid further litigation.” 4 Lansing 24, supra. (4) Respondent is estopped from denying the validity of the compromise so long as the county retains the fruits. By entering into the contract, the railway company was deprived of the power to make a full and legal defense to the action on the merits, and the sustaining of the verdict of the court below would result in depriving it of all remedy whatsoever. (5) The collector is the agent of the county for the collecting of taxes due the county. His principal has compromised the taxes sued for, and this compromise was a sufficient and valid release to him for any claim to the enforcement of their collection. The collector, however, ignores the contract of his principal and seeks to thwart its will.

Carr & Reynolds and Wm. S. Relfe for respondent.

The agreement, which was made July 19th, 1875, was void. No power was ever conferred on the county courts to compromise claims for taxes till the Back Tax Act of April 12th, 1877. This is not a case for injunction. It is not alleged that the county or its court are insolvent. Fallon v. R. R. Co., 1 Dill. C. C. 121. No facts are alleged, and none are proven, which show that irreparable injury will result. Much less will a court of equity restrain a third party, who is not alleged to be privy to the contract or to the parties thereto, from violating or rendering nugatory the contract. If the county court was defendant, there might be some foundation for the bill. Rubey v. Shain, 54 Mo. 207; High on Injunctions, chap. 17, § 695; Kerr on Injunctions, § 494; State v. Sanderson, 54 Mo. 203; Barton Co. v. Harrington, 71 Mo. 118.

HENRY, J.

This is a proceeding by injunction to restrain the defendant, as collector of Washington county, from collecting certain taxes levied by the county court of said county upon the property of plaintiff, including its railroad, road-bed, etc., plaintiff alleging that there had been an agreement of settlement and compromise of said claim for taxes between the plaintiff and county, which had been strictly complied with on plaintiff's part. A temporary injunction was granted, which, on final hearing, was dissolved and the cause dismissed.

The county had sued plaintiff for taxes, and recovered a judgment in the circuit court of Washington county, which this court reversed and remanded, and, thereupon, a compromise was agreed upon between the parties, by the terms of which plaintiff was to pay a given sum in settlement, and has so far complied with the agreement, and the collector, in disregard of that agreement, was proceeding to collect the original amount and interest and penalties.

It is now contended that the county had no...

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