Trustees v. Greenough

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtBRADLEY
Citation26 L.Ed. 1157,105 U.S. 527
Decision Date01 October 1881
PartiesTRUSTEES v. GREENOUGH

105 U.S. 527
105 U.S. 527
26 L.Ed. 1157
TRUSTEES
v.
GREENOUGH.
October Term, 1881

APPEAL from the Circuit Court of the United States for the Northern District of Florida.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the court.

The case was argued by Mr. Charles W. Jones for the appellants, and by Mr. Jefferson Chandler, with whom was Mr. C. D. Willard, for the appellee.

MR. JUSTICE BRADLEY delivered the opinion of the court.

The question is this case is one of costs, expenses, and allowances awarded to the complainant below out of a trust fund under the control of the court. Ordinarily a decree will not be reviewed by this court on a question of costs merely in a suit in equity, although the court has entire control of the matter of costs, as wl l as the merits, when it has possession of

Page 528

the cause on appeal from the final decree. But it was held by Lord Cottenham, in Angell v. Davis (4 Myl. & Craig, 360), that when the case is not one of personal costs, in which the court has ordered one party to pay them, but a case in which the court has directed them to be paid out of a particular fund, an appeal lies on the part of those interested in the fund. Lord Cottenham, indeed, suggested other cases in which an appeal might lie from a decree for costs, as where the costs are part of the specific relief prayed; and where the whole of the facts distinctly appear upon the face of the proceedings themselves, so that it is not necessary, in determining the question, to enter into any investigation of the merits. But these suggestions have not met with subsequent approval; and in the case of Taylor v. Dowlen (Law Rep. 4 Ch. App. 697), the court declared that they were not disposed to extend the case of Angell v. Davis; and dismissed an appeal brought by parties ordered to pay costs, which they claimed should be payable out of a fund.

But these discussions in the English courts arose under a system in which appeals from interlocutory orders are allowed. We can only entertain an appeal from a final decree; and supposing the objection to the appeal on the ground of its being from a decree for costs only is untenable, as we think it is, then arises another question, whether the orders appealed from amount to a final decree.

The principal suit was commenced in 1870, by a bill filed by Francis Vose, a large holder of bonds of the Florida Railroad Company, on behalf of himself and the other bondholders, against Harrison Reed and others, trustees of the Internal Improvement Fund of Florida, and against the former members of the same board, and against the board itself as a corporation, and sundry other corporations alleged to be in complicity with them. That fund consisted of ten or eleven million acres of lands belonging to the State, including certain proceeds of the sale of some of them, and was pledged for the payment of the interest accruing on the bonds and instalments of the sinking fund for meeting the principal, which were largely in arrear. The charge of the bill is to the effect that the trustees were wasting and destroying the fund by selling at nominal

Page 529

prices the lands by the hundred thousand and even million acres, and failed and refused to provide for the payment of interest or sinking fund on the bonds. The bill prayed that the fraudulent conveyances be set aside, and the trustees enjoined from selling more lands, and that a receiver be appointed to take care of the fund.

The litigation was carried on with great vigor and at much expense, and in fact a large amount of the trust fund was secured and saved; the management of the fund was taken out of the hands of the trustees; agents were appointed by the court to make sales of the land, and made a large number the court to make sales of the land, and made a large number of sales; a considerable amount of money was realized, and dividends have been made amongst the bondholders, most of whom came in and took the benefit of the litigation. Vose, the complainant, bore the whole burden of this litigation, and advanced most of the expenses which were necessary for the purpose of rendering it effective and successful. In 1875 he filed a petition, setting forth these advances and the efforts made by him, and prayed an allowance out of the fund for his expenses and services. In December, 1876, an order was made by the court referring it to a master to ascertain: 1. What and by whom the necessary expenditures have been incurred in bringing the moneys already received into court. 2. What necessary expenditures have been made, and by whom, in protecting the landed and sinking fund from which this money has been and will be realized. 3. What personal services have been rendered, and by whom, in said work, and the value thereof. 4. What amount of same have been charged toF rancis Vose by the receiver, instead of being paid out of the common fund in his hands.

Vose presented his account and vouchers before the master, and testimony was taken on the subject. In 1877 the master made a report, in which, amongst other things, he stated as follows:——

'First, After consideration of the proofs as submitted to me, I find and report that the moneys which have already been received, whether upon account of the internal improvement fund or of the sinking fund, have been brought into court at the instance and the suit and by the sole efforts of

Page 530

Francis Vose, the petitioner, through himself, his solicitors and his agents, and by the instrumentality more directly and especially of his proceeding in equity against the Trustees of the Internal Improvement Fund et al., as they appear in the records which are made evidence in this case.'

The master further reported a statement of expenditures made by Vose in the cause, and declared that they were necessary expenditures, being for fees of solicitors and counsel, costs of court, and sundry small incidental items for copying records and the like, the whole amounting to $34,192.62. He also stated and allowed sundry fees paid in maintaining other suits in New York, and on appeal to this court, attorneys' fees for resisting fraudulent coupons, and expenses paid to attorneys and agents to investigate fraudulent grants of the trust lands, amounting in all to $19,745.68. He also reported in favor of an allowance to Vose for his personal services and expenditures, as follows:——

'I further find and report that peculiar and great personal services have been rendered by the petitioner, Francis Vose, in the work of protecting the internal improvement and the sinking funds; those services extending over a period of more than eleven years. By the instrumentality of the suits already mentioned as having been instituted by him, by the agencies he employed and sustained, and by his own vigiliance and personal efforts he has saved from spoliation and subjected to the decrees of this court a vast domain of over ten millions of acres of land; and has brought into this court large sums of money, which, from time to time, have been distributed by its orders.

'I consider and report that the charge embraced in his itemized account, and numbered forty-two (42), for $25,000 principal, and $9,625 interest, is reasonable and just.

'I also find that the charge in his itemized account, numbered forty-one (41), for personal expenditures of $15,003.35, is reasonable and just. Total $40,003.35.'

The first of these items consisted of an allowance of $2,500 a year for ten years of personal services; the second was for railroad fares and hotel bills paid by the complainant.

The proceedings before the master were opposed; but, on a hearing upon the report and the evidence submitted therewith,

Page 531

the court confirmed it to the extent of $27,835.34, allowing generally the fees of the officers of the court, and those of the attorneys and solicitors employed in the cause, including charges as between attorney and client; at the same time disallowing certain fees paid to advisory counsel and other items not directly connected with the suit, and referring the remainder of the report for further evidence and hearing. In December, 1879, after additional evidence had been taken, a final order was made, allowing sundry expenses for looking after and reclaiming the trust lands, and also allowing for the personal expenses and services of Vose embraced in the two items before referred to; the total amount allowed...

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903 practice notes
  • In re Unisys Corp. Retiree Med. Bene. ERISA Lit., MDL No. 969.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
    • 20 Marzo 1995
    ...S.Ct. at 749. This doctrine has been justified by basic equity: in terms of its prevention of unjust enrichment, Trustees v. Greenough, 105 U.S. 527, 532, 26 L.Ed. 1157 (1882); Sprague v. Ticonic Nat'l Bank, 307 U.S. 161, 166, 59 S.Ct. 777, 780, 83 L.Ed. 1184 (1939); Van Gemert, 444 U.S. at......
  • Edmonds v. US, Civ. A. No. 75-1624-8
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • 24 Marzo 1987
    ...in such cases in this country for more than a century, since the early cases such as Trustees v. Greenough, 105 U.S. (15 Otto) 527, 26 L.Ed. 1157 (1882), and Central Railroad & Banking Co. v. Pettus, 113 U.S. 116, 5 S.Ct. 387, 28 L.Ed. 915 (1885). As the Supreme Court summarized the doctrin......
  • Lealao v. Beneficial California, Inc., No. A085992.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • 10 Julio 2000
    ...cases. The common fund or "fund-in-court" doctrine, first articulated by the United States Supreme Court in Trustees v. Greenough (1881) 105 U.S. 527, 26 L.Ed. 1157, is a venerable exception to the general American rule disfavoring attorney fees in the absence of statutory or contractual au......
  • Lealao v. Beneficial Calif.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • 10 Julio 2000
    ...fund or "fund-in-court" doctrine, first articulated by the United States Supreme Court in Internal Imp. Fund Trustees v. Greenough (1881) 105 U.S. 527, is a venerable exception to the general American rule disfavoring attorney fees in the absence of statutory or contractual authorization. (......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
893 cases
  • In re Unisys Corp. Retiree Med. Bene. ERISA Lit., MDL No. 969.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
    • 20 Marzo 1995
    ...S.Ct. at 749. This doctrine has been justified by basic equity: in terms of its prevention of unjust enrichment, Trustees v. Greenough, 105 U.S. 527, 532, 26 L.Ed. 1157 (1882); Sprague v. Ticonic Nat'l Bank, 307 U.S. 161, 166, 59 S.Ct. 777, 780, 83 L.Ed. 1184 (1939); Van Gemert, 444 U.S. at......
  • Edmonds v. US, Civ. A. No. 75-1624-8
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • 24 Marzo 1987
    ...in such cases in this country for more than a century, since the early cases such as Trustees v. Greenough, 105 U.S. (15 Otto) 527, 26 L.Ed. 1157 (1882), and Central Railroad & Banking Co. v. Pettus, 113 U.S. 116, 5 S.Ct. 387, 28 L.Ed. 915 (1885). As the Supreme Court summarized the doctrin......
  • Lealao v. Beneficial California, Inc., No. A085992.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • 10 Julio 2000
    ...cases. The common fund or "fund-in-court" doctrine, first articulated by the United States Supreme Court in Trustees v. Greenough (1881) 105 U.S. 527, 26 L.Ed. 1157, is a venerable exception to the general American rule disfavoring attorney fees in the absence of statutory or contractual au......
  • Lealao v. Beneficial Calif.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • 10 Julio 2000
    ...fund or "fund-in-court" doctrine, first articulated by the United States Supreme Court in Internal Imp. Fund Trustees v. Greenough (1881) 105 U.S. 527, is a venerable exception to the general American rule disfavoring attorney fees in the absence of statutory or contractual authorization. (......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
9 firm's commentaries
  • Eleventh Circuit Denies En Banc Request, Confirms Holding that Class Action Incentive Payments are Improper
    • United States
    • LexBlog United States
    • 15 Agosto 2022
    ...on the Eleventh Circuit held a named plaintiff in a class action lawsuit could not recover an incentive award under Trustees v. Greenough, 105 U.S. 527 (1882), and Central Railroad & Banking Co. v. Pettus, 113 U.S. 116 (1885). See Johnson v. NPAS Sols., LLC, 975 F.3d 1244, 1260 (11th Cir. 2......
  • Eleventh Circuit Confirms Circuit Split Over Class Representative Incentive Awards
    • United States
    • LexBlog United States
    • 8 Agosto 2022
    ...in class action settlements. Johnson v. NPAS Sols., LLC (Johnson I), 975 F.3d 1244, 1255 (11th Cir. 2020) (citing Trustees v. Greenough, 105 U.S. 527 (1881), and Cent. R.R. & Banking Co. v. Pettus, 113 U.S. 116 (1885)). This is a significant development. As Judge Pryor pointed out in her di......
  • Eleventh Circuit Stands Firm ' No Incentive Awards For Class Representatives
    • United States
    • Mondaq United States
    • 15 Agosto 2022
    ...a "salary and a bounty," which were explicitly prohibited by very old Supreme Court case law in Internal Imp. Fund Trustees v. Greenough, 105 U.S. 527 (1881) (Greenough) and Cent. R.R. & Banking Co. v. Pettus, 113 U.S. 116 (1885) (Pettus). While the court acknowledged the ubiquitous nature ......
  • Eleventh Circuit Stands Firm – No Incentive Awards for Class Representatives
    • United States
    • LexBlog United States
    • 12 Agosto 2022
    ...a “salary and a bounty,” which were explicitly prohibited by very old Supreme Court case law in Internal Imp. Fund Trustees v. Greenough, 105 U.S. 527 (1881) (Greenough) and Cent. R.R. & Banking Co. v. Pettus, 113 U.S. 116 (1885) (Pettus). While the court acknowledged the ubiquitous nature ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
2 books & journal articles
  • Fee-Shifting in Bankruptcy.
    • United States
    • American Bankruptcy Law Journal Vol. 95 Nbr. 4, December 2021
    • 22 Diciembre 2021
    ...fund for the benefit of others as well as himself. Cen. R.R. & Banking Co. v. Pettus, 113 U. S. 116 (1885); Trustees v. Greenough, 105 U. S. 527 (1881). Sprague itself involved a variation of the common fund situation where, although the plaintiff had not in a technical sense sued for t......
  • EQUITY'S ATROPHY.
    • United States
    • Notre Dame Law Review Vol. 97 Nbr. 5, May 2022
    • 1 Mayo 2022
    ...of compensation for class-action attorneys, was created out of the whole cloth by the Supreme Court itself in Trustees v. Greenough, 105 U.S. 527, 537-38 (1881). Such innovations require a self-confidence about the purpose and powers of equity jurisdiction that today's judges (35) See eBay ......

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