Waddell v. Bd. of Dirs. of Aurelia Consol. Indep. Sch. Dist., No. 32374.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Writing for the CourtEVANS
Citation175 N.W. 65,190 Iowa 400
PartiesWADDELL ET AL. v. BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF AURELIA CONSOLIDATED INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DIST. ET AL.
Docket NumberNo. 32374.
Decision Date13 December 1919

190 Iowa 400
175 N.W. 65

WADDELL ET AL.
v.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF AURELIA CONSOLIDATED INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DIST.
ET AL.

No. 32374.

Supreme Court of Iowa.

Dec. 13, 1919.


Appeal from District Court, Cherokee County; Wm. Hutchinson, Judge.

Suit in equity by five plaintiffs to enjoin the board of directors of a rural school district from selling to others than the plaintiffs five certain schoolhouse sites in violation of the rights of the respective plaintiffs under the provisions of section 2816 of the Code. The general nature of the defense was that the school district held an absolute fee title to its school sites, and that therefore, section 2816 and its parent statute were not applicable. There was a decree for the plaintiffs. The defendant appeals. Affirmed.

Salinger, J., dissenting.

[175 N.W. 65]

F. F. Faville, of Ft. Dodge, for appellant.

Molyneux & Maher, of Cherokee, for appellees.


EVANS, J.

The facts in the case were all stipulated. The defendant district had abandoned five rural schoolhouse sites. The plaintiffs are the several owners respectively of the farms from which said sites were respectively taken. The plaintiffs claim the right, therefore, under the provisions of section 2816 of the present Code, to accept the option provided in such section and to take the respective sites on the conditions therein specified. The defendant denies the applicability

[175 N.W. 66]

of such section. One ground of such denial is that the school sites were acquired before the enactment of the present statute; that, in any event, only the statute in force at the time of such acquisition could be held applicable. This was the parent statute, chapter 124, 13th G. A., later incorporated in the Code of 1873 as sections 1825, 1826, 1827, and 1828. It denies the application also of this statute on the broad ground that it was not intended to apply to a case where the school district held the absolute fee-simple title of the school site.

[1] The trial court followed our holding in Hopkins v. School District, 173 Iowa, 43, 151 N. W. 443, 155 N. W. 168. In that case we held that the provisions of section 2816 were applicable to “any real estate” held by a rural school district for schoolhouse purposes regardless of the method of acquiring title. It is urged by appellant that to so construe section 2816 would render it unconstitutional, in that it impairs the property rights of defendant. It is further urged that such holding was not necessary to the result in the Hopkins Case, and that therefore the holding was dictum. It is true that the result in the Hopkins Case was based upon two grounds either one of which would have been sufficient. Does that fact render one of the grounds a dictum? If so, which one? While it is true that the result in the Hopkins Case could have been made to rest upon the other ground alone, so it could have been made to rest upon this ground alone. If the first ground is open to challenge in this case as mere dictum, the second ground is likewise open to challenge in some other case as mere dictum. We must therefore face the question whether this particular ground of holding in the Hopkins Case should be overruled. We pass then to the real merits of the contention.

The argument for appellant takes a broad scope and is very helpful to us to a reconsideration of the opinion in the cited case.

For convenience of reference, we set out here so far as necessary the sections of the statute under consideration, being sections 2814-2816 of the present Code:

“Sec. 2814. Schoolhouse Sites; Acquisition.--Any school corporation may take and hold so much real estate as may be required for schoolhouse sites, for the location or construction thereon of schoolhouses and the convenient use thereof, but not to exceed one acre, except in a city or incorporated town it may include one block exclusive of the street or highway, as the case may be, for any one site, unless by the owner's consent, which site must be upon some public road already established or procured by the board of directors, and shall, except in cities, incorporated towns or villages, be at least forty rods from the residence of any owner who objects to its being placed nearer, and not in any orchard, garden or public park.

Sec. 2815. Condemnation.--If the owner of the real estate desired for a schoolhouse site, or a public road thereto, refuses or neglects to convey the same, or is unknown or cannot be found, the county superintendent of the proper county, upon the application of either party in interest, shall appoint three disinterested referees; * * * such referees shall inspect the grounds proposed to be taken, fix the damages sustained as near as may be on the basis of the value of the real estate so appropriated. * * *

Sec. 2816. Reversion.--In the case of nonuser for school purposes for two years continuously of any real estate acquired for a schoolhouse site it shall revert, with improvements thereon, to the owner of the tract from which it was taken, upon repayment of the purchase price without interest, together with the value of the improvements, to be determined by arbitration, but during its use the owner of the right of reversion shall have no interest in or control over the premises.”

The parent statute enacted in 1870 was incorporated substantially in the Code of 1873 as sections 1825-1828 as follows:

“Sec. 1825. It shall be lawful for any district township, or independent district, to take and hold under the provisions contained in this chapter, so much real estate as may be necessary for the location and construction of a schoolhouse and convenient use of the school; provided, that the real estate so taken, otherwise than by the consent of the owner or owners, shall not exceed one acre.

Sec. 1826. The site so taken must be on some public highway, at least forty rods from any residence, the owner whereof objects to its being placed nearer, and not in any orchard, garden, or public park. But this section shall not apply to any incorporated town.

Sec. 1827. If the owner of any such real estate refuse or neglect to grant the site on his premises, or if such owner cannot be found, the county superintendent of the county in which said real estate may be situated, shall, upon application of either party, appoint three disinterested persons of said county, * * * who shall, * * * inspect said real estate and assess the damages. * * *

Sec. 1828. The title acquired by said school districts in and to said real property, shall be for school purposes only, and in case the same should cease to be used for said purpose for the space of two years, then the title shall revert to the owner of the fee, upon the repayment by him of the principal amount paid for said land by said districts, without interest, together with the value of any improvements thereon erected by said districts; provided, that during the time said site is used for school purposes, the owners of the fee shall not injure or remove the timber standing and growing thereon.”

The school sites in controversy were acquired at various dates from 1871 to 1886 when the sections of the Code of 1873 were in force and before the enactment of the present sections of the statute. These sites were acquired by warranty deeds with full covenants of warranty. No reservations to the

[175 N.W. 67]

grantor of any kind were included therein. The argument for the appellant may be briefly summarized as follows:

(1) That by its warranty deeds the defendant took an absolute and indefeasible fee title.

(2) That if either statute is applicable to the case, it must be the one which was in force at the time the property was acquired; that to apply the subsequent statute would be to take away the defendant's property with out due process of law in violation of both federal and state Constitutions.

(3) That the statutes in question can be deemed only to apply to school sites acquired by condemnation or to easements acquired by grant.

(4) That section 2749 of the present Code and 1717 of the Code of 1873 expressly conferred upon the electors the power of directing sale of schoolhouse property, and that to apply section 2816 or its parent statute to this case would be to violate the provisions of section 2749. We shall consider briefly each of the foregoing propositions.

[2] I. There is no real occasion that we deal with the first proposition. There is no question but that this rural school district acquired by its warranty deeds as absolute a title as was in the power of the grantor to convey and in the corporate capacity of the grantee to take. The difference, if any, between a fee-simple title acquired by an individual grantee for private uses, and the fee-simple title acquired by a public corporation for public uses sometimes involves nice distinctions. That such a distinction is frequently recognized is indicated in the following authorities: Hill v. R. R. Co., 32 Vt. 74;N. Y. C. & H. R. R. Co. v. Aldridge, 135 N. Y. 95, 32 N. E. 50, 17 L. R. A. 516; Norton v. Railroad, L. R. 9 Ch. Div. 623.

Whether the limitation in such case is upon the “title” conveyed to the public corporation, or whether it is a limitation upon the “right and capacity of the corporation to continue” in the exercise of the grant after its public uses have ceased, is a fair field of debate, and we need not enter upon it.

Without passing affirmatively or negatively upon appellant's first proposition, we will assume its correctness for the purpose of this discussion.

[3][4] II. Which statute, if either, must be deemed applicable herein? It will be noted that the principal difference between these statutes, in their reversion provisions as we have above set them forth, is that under the first one the so-called reversion went to the “owner of the fee,” whereas under the present statute the reversion goes to the “owner of the tract” from which the site was taken. Both the parent statute and the present statute appear by their terms to be...

To continue reading

Request your trial
21 practice notes
  • Brown v. Weare, No. 37273.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • April 18, 1941
    ...338; Smith v. Hall, 103 Iowa, 95, 72 N.W. 427; Barton v. Jarvis, 218 Ky. 239, 291 S.W. 38; Waddell v. Board of Directors, 190 Iowa, 400, 175 N.W. 65; Grant v. Moon, 128 Mo. 43, 30 S.W. 328; Neil v. Independent Realty Co., 317 Mo. 1235, 298 S.W. 363; Hall v. Wabash Ry. Co., 133 Iowa, 714, 11......
  • In re Finch's Estate, No. 47182.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • June 15, 1948
    ...194, Iowa 523, 530, 187 N.W. 32;Galvin v. Citizens' Bank of Pleasantville, 217 Iowa 494, 498, 250 N.W. 729;Waddell v. Board of Directors, 190 Iowa 400, 402, 175 N.W. 65. III. Appellants assign error because the court sustained objections to their offer of certain parts of the fact stipulati......
  • Jacobs v. Miller, No. 50366
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • November 14, 1961
    ...doubt is cast on its constitutionality. Biltmore Village v. Royal, Fla., 71 So.2d 727, 41 A.L.R.2d 1380; Waddell v. Board of Directors, 190 Iowa 400, 175 N.W. 65; Watkins v. Iowa Central Ry. Co., 123 Iowa 390, 98 N.W. 910; and Annotation, 41 A.L.R.2d 1384. Statutes are construed, if fairly ......
  • City of Bloomfield v. Davis County Community School Dist., No. 50872
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • February 12, 1963
    ...Community School Dist. v. City of Cedar Rapids, 252 Iowa 205, 208, 106 N.W.2d 655, 657, and citations; Waddell v. Board of Directors, 190 Iowa 400, 406, 175 N.W. 65; Nehrbas v. Lloyd Harbor, supra, 2 N.Y.2d 190, 159 N.Y.S.2d 145, 140 N.E.2d 241, 61 A.L.R.2d 965, 968; 78 C.J.S., Schools and ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
21 cases
  • Brown v. Weare, No. 37273.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • April 18, 1941
    ...338; Smith v. Hall, 103 Iowa, 95, 72 N.W. 427; Barton v. Jarvis, 218 Ky. 239, 291 S.W. 38; Waddell v. Board of Directors, 190 Iowa, 400, 175 N.W. 65; Grant v. Moon, 128 Mo. 43, 30 S.W. 328; Neil v. Independent Realty Co., 317 Mo. 1235, 298 S.W. 363; Hall v. Wabash Ry. Co., 133 Iowa, 714, 11......
  • In re Finch's Estate, No. 47182.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • June 15, 1948
    ...194, Iowa 523, 530, 187 N.W. 32;Galvin v. Citizens' Bank of Pleasantville, 217 Iowa 494, 498, 250 N.W. 729;Waddell v. Board of Directors, 190 Iowa 400, 402, 175 N.W. 65. III. Appellants assign error because the court sustained objections to their offer of certain parts of the fact stipulati......
  • Jacobs v. Miller, No. 50366
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • November 14, 1961
    ...doubt is cast on its constitutionality. Biltmore Village v. Royal, Fla., 71 So.2d 727, 41 A.L.R.2d 1380; Waddell v. Board of Directors, 190 Iowa 400, 175 N.W. 65; Watkins v. Iowa Central Ry. Co., 123 Iowa 390, 98 N.W. 910; and Annotation, 41 A.L.R.2d 1384. Statutes are construed, if fairly ......
  • City of Bloomfield v. Davis County Community School Dist., No. 50872
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • February 12, 1963
    ...Community School Dist. v. City of Cedar Rapids, 252 Iowa 205, 208, 106 N.W.2d 655, 657, and citations; Waddell v. Board of Directors, 190 Iowa 400, 406, 175 N.W. 65; Nehrbas v. Lloyd Harbor, supra, 2 N.Y.2d 190, 159 N.Y.S.2d 145, 140 N.E.2d 241, 61 A.L.R.2d 965, 968; 78 C.J.S., Schools and ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT