Trust Savings Co v. Hill, BRINKERHOFF-FARIS

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtBRANDEIS
Citation50 S.Ct. 451,74 L.Ed. 1107,281 U.S. 673
Docket NumberNo. 464,BRINKERHOFF-FARIS
Decision Date02 June 1930
PartiesTRUST & SAVINGS CO. v. HILL, County Treasurer

281 U.S. 673
50 S.Ct. 451
74 L.Ed. 1107
BRINKERHOFF-FARIS TRUST & SAVINGS CO.

v.

HILL, County Treasurer.

No. 464.
Argued May 1, 1930.
Decided June 2, 1930.

Page 674

Mr. Roy W. Rucker, of Sedalia, Mo., for petitioner.

Mr. Lieutellus Cunningham, of Jefferson City, Mo., for respondent.

Mr. Justice BRANDEIS delivered the opinion of the Court.

In 1928, the Brinkerhoff-Faris Trust & Savings Company, acting as trustee for its shareholders, brought this suit in a Missouri court against the treasurer of Henry county, Mo., to enjoin him from collecting or attempting to collect a certain part of the taxes assessed against them for the year 1927 on the shares of its stock; and, pending decision in this suit, to restrain the prosecution of an action already brought by him against the plaintiff for that purpose.

The bill alleged that the township assessor had intentionally and systematically discriminated against the shareholders by assessing bank stock at full value, while intentionally and systematically omitting to assess certain classes of property and assessing all other classes of property at 75 per cent. or less of their value. It asserted that, to the extent of 25 per cent., the assessments were void because such discrimination violated the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. And it recited that the plaintiff had tendered, and was continuing to tender, payment of the 75 per cent. of the taxes assessed, which amount it conceded was due. As grounds for equity jurisdiction, the bill charged that relief could not be had at law, either by way of defense in the pending action brought by the treasurer or by paying the tax in full under protest and suing for a refund of 25 per cent. thereof; and that no administrative remedy for the relief

Page 675

sought was, or ever had been, provided by law either by appeal or otherwise to or from the county board of equalization or the state board of equalization.

The defendant's answer denied all the allegations of discrimination and further opposed relief in equity on the grounds that the plaintiff had not pursued remedies before the county or state board of equalization pursuant to articles 3 and 5 of chapter 119 of the Missouri Revised Statutes of 1919 (sections 12820-12827, 12853-12857), and that the plaintiff was guilty of laches in not so doing. The trial court refused the injunction and dismissed the bill, without opinion or findings of fact.

The Supreme Court of Missouri held, on appeal, that relief from the alleged discriminatory assessment could not be had in any suit at law; that his bill in equity was the appropriate and only remedy, unless relief could have been had by timely application to some administrative board; and that neither of the boards of equalization was charged with the power and duty to grant such relief. But, without passing definitely upon the question of discrimination, it concluded that if the plaintiff had 'at any time before the tax books were delivered to the collector, filed complaint with the state tax commission, that body, in the proper exercise of its jurisdiction. would have granted a hearing, and would have heard evidence with respect to the valuations complained of, and, if the charges contained in the complaint had been found to be true, the valuations placed on its property would have been lowered, or that on other property raised, the property omitted from the assessment roll would have been placed thereon, and the discrimination complained of thereby removed. The remedy provided by statute is adequate, certain, and complete.' Compare First National Bank of Greeley v. Weld County, 264 U. S. 450, 44 S. Ct. 385, 68 L. Ed. 784. The court held, therefore, that, because plaintiff had this ade-

Page 676

quate legal remedy, it was not entitled to equitable relief, and because plaintiff had not complained to the tax commission, 'it was clearly guilty of laches in not so doing.' On these grounds, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court. 19 S.W.(2d) 746.

The powers and duties of the state tax commission are prescribed by article 4 of chapter 119 of the Revised Statutes of 1919 (sections 12828-12852). Six years before this suit was begun, those provisions had been construed by the Supreme Court of Missouri in Laclede Land & Improvement Co. v. State Tax Commission, 295 Mo. 298, 243 S. W. 887. There, the court had been required to determine whether the commission had power to grant relief of the character here sought. The commission had refused, on the ground of lack of power, an application for relief from discrimination similar to that here alleged. The Laclede Company petitioned for a mandamus to compel the commission to hear its complaint. The Supreme Court denied the petition, saying that it was 'preposterous' and 'unthinkable' that the statute conferred such power on the commission; and that if the statute were thus construed, it would violate section 10 of article 10 of the Constitution of Missouri. That decision was thereafter consistently acted upon by the commission; and it was followed by the Supreme Court itself in later cases.1

Page 677

No one doubted the authority of the Laclede Case until it was expressly overruled in the case at bar.2 While the defendant's answer asserted that the plaintiff had not availed itself of the administrative remedies under articles 3 and 5 of chapter 119 by application to the boards of equalization and was guilty of laches in not so doing (contentions which the state court held to be unsound), the answer significantly omitted any contention that there had been a remedy by application to the state tax commission, whose powers are dealt with in the intervening article 4. The possibility of relief before the tax commission was not suggested by any one in the entire litigation until the Supreme Court filed its opinion on June 29, 1929. Then it was too late for the plaintiff to avail itself of the newly found remedy. For, under that decision, the application to the tax commission could not be made after the tax books were delivered to the collector; and this had been done about October 1, 1927.

The plaintiff seasonably filed a petition for a rehearing in which it recited the above facts and asserted, in addition to its claims on the merits, that, in applying the new construction of article 4 of chapter 119 to the case at bar, and in refusing relief because of the newly found powers of the commission, the court transgressed the due

Page 678

process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The additional federal claim thus made was timely, since it was raised at the first opportunity. Missouri ex rel. Missouri Ins. Co. v. Gehner, 281 U. S. 313, 50 S. Ct. 326, 74 L. Ed. —. The petition was denied without opinion. This court granted certiorari. 280 U. S. 550, 50 S. Ct. 152, 74 L. Ed. —. We are of opinion that the judgment of the Supreme Court of Missouri must be reversed, because it has denied to the plaintiff 'due process of law'-using that term in its primary sense of an opportunity to be heard and to defend its substantive right.

First. It is plain that the practical effect of the judgment of the Missouri court is to deprive the plaintiff of property without affording it at any time an opportunity to be heard in its defense. The plaintiff asserted an invasion of its substantive right under the federal Constitution to equality of treatment. Greene v. Louisville & Interurban R. R. Co., 244 U. S. 499, 37 S. Ct. 673, 61 L. Ed. 1280, Ann. Cas. 1917E, 88; Sioux City Bridge Co. v. Dakota County, 260 U. S. 441, 43 S. Ct. 190, 67 L. Ed. 340, 28 A. L. R. 979. If the allegations of the complaint could be established,...

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210 practice notes
  • Smith v. Travis County Educ. Dist., Civ. No. A-92-CA-75
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Western District of Texas
    • May 1, 1992
    ...the plaintiff of property without affording the plaintiff any opportunity to be heard. Brinkerhoff-Faris Trust & Savings Co. v. Hill, 281 U.S. 673, 678, 50 S.Ct. 451, 453, 74 L.Ed. 1107 (1930). Although the state courts determine the adjective and substantive law of the state, the state cou......
  • Jointrefugee Committee v. Grath National Council Offriendship v. Grath International Workers Order v. Grath, ANTI-FASCIST
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • April 30, 1951
    ...Clause of the Fifth Amendment. Fairness of procedure is 'due process in the primary sense.' Brinkerhoff-Faris Trust & Savings Co. v. Hill, 281 U.S. 673, 681, 50 S.Ct. 451, 454, 74 L.Ed. 1107. It is ingrained in our national traditions and is designed to maintain them. In a variety of situat......
  • McArthur v. Maryland Casvalts Co., 33441
    • United States
    • Mississippi Supreme Court
    • February 6, 1939
    ...172 Miss. 46, 159 So. 99; Hendrickson v. Apperson, 245 U.S. 105, 62 L.Ed. 178; Brinkerhoff-Faris Trust & Say. Co. v. Hill, 281 U.S. 675, 74 L.Ed. 1107; Herbert v. Louisiana, 272 U.S. 312, 71 L.Ed. 270; Hartford Acc. & Ind. Co. v. Delta Pine Land Co., 292 U.S. 143, 78 L.Ed. 1178, 98 A.L.R. 9......
  • Hartford Accident & Indeminity Co. v. Delta & Pine Land Co, 33674
    • United States
    • Mississippi Supreme Court
    • April 29, 1940
    ...[189 Miss. 514] amended, 28 U.S.C. A. sec. 344, Simkins' Federal Practice (3 Ed.), section 953, page 283, Brinkerhoff, etc., Co. v. Hill, 281 U.S. 673, 680, 50 S.Ct. 451, 74 L.Ed. 1107, 1113. Most assuredly, the issue of whether a provision in a contract of indemnity requiring a claim of lo......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
210 cases
  • Smith v. Travis County Educ. Dist., Civ. No. A-92-CA-75
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Western District of Texas
    • May 1, 1992
    ...the plaintiff of property without affording the plaintiff any opportunity to be heard. Brinkerhoff-Faris Trust & Savings Co. v. Hill, 281 U.S. 673, 678, 50 S.Ct. 451, 453, 74 L.Ed. 1107 (1930). Although the state courts determine the adjective and substantive law of the state, the state cou......
  • Jointrefugee Committee v. Grath National Council Offriendship v. Grath International Workers Order v. Grath, ANTI-FASCIST
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • April 30, 1951
    ...Clause of the Fifth Amendment. Fairness of procedure is 'due process in the primary sense.' Brinkerhoff-Faris Trust & Savings Co. v. Hill, 281 U.S. 673, 681, 50 S.Ct. 451, 454, 74 L.Ed. 1107. It is ingrained in our national traditions and is designed to maintain them. In a variety of situat......
  • McArthur v. Maryland Casvalts Co., 33441
    • United States
    • Mississippi Supreme Court
    • February 6, 1939
    ...172 Miss. 46, 159 So. 99; Hendrickson v. Apperson, 245 U.S. 105, 62 L.Ed. 178; Brinkerhoff-Faris Trust & Say. Co. v. Hill, 281 U.S. 675, 74 L.Ed. 1107; Herbert v. Louisiana, 272 U.S. 312, 71 L.Ed. 270; Hartford Acc. & Ind. Co. v. Delta Pine Land Co., 292 U.S. 143, 78 L.Ed. 1178, 98 A.L.R. 9......
  • Hartford Accident & Indeminity Co. v. Delta & Pine Land Co, 33674
    • United States
    • Mississippi Supreme Court
    • April 29, 1940
    ...[189 Miss. 514] amended, 28 U.S.C. A. sec. 344, Simkins' Federal Practice (3 Ed.), section 953, page 283, Brinkerhoff, etc., Co. v. Hill, 281 U.S. 673, 680, 50 S.Ct. 451, 74 L.Ed. 1107, 1113. Most assuredly, the issue of whether a provision in a contract of indemnity requiring a claim of lo......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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