« ForrigeFortsett »
plainant's own averment, the estate is largely solvent. There is no endeavor to discover assets and no ground for jurisdiction in equity, simply because one of the defendants is an executrix. The proposition of the complainant would confer jurisdiction in equity in every case of a legal cause of action for unliquidated
a damages for a tort, where one of the wrongdoers had died and an administratrix had been appointed, and the existence of assets was alleged by complainant, largely in excess of the complainant's demand, and the other defendants remained parties. This has never been so held in any case to which our attention has been called, and we are unable to find any principle of equity jurisdiction upon which to permit the maintenance of this suit on the special ground here asserted.
But it is averred there was a fiduciary relationship existing on account of the permits or licenses to cut timber, which, it is alleged, were given the defendant, Bitter Root Delevopment Company, and that in such permits there was set forth an obligation on the part of that company, and others acting for it, to make under oath monthly returns of the amounts and kinds of timber cut, with a description of the particular tract or tracts from which it was cut, how much was disposed of, and to whom, and that a failure to do so was a failure in a fiduciary capacity on the part of the defendant company, and therefore there is jurisdiction in equity. The Government contends that by reason of the duty of the Bitter Root Development Company to keep true and accurate accounts and to monthly submit statements to the officers of the Government, and by reason of its failure so to do, the proceeds of the lumber retained by it became in its hands a trust fund belonging to the complainant; that there was a breach of this trust; its extent is in the defendants' knowledge; and in such cases choice of remedy is with the party aggrieved, and he may proceed in equity for an accounting and pursue the fund. It is doubtful, to say the least, whether an obligation to report as to timber cut on the permitted lands constitutes any fiduciary relationship between the licensees and the Government,
Opinion of the Court.
with regard to an alleged wrongful cutting of timber on other and separate lands. It is not, in truth, alleged that the returns called for by the permit were not made. Safford v. Ensign Manufacturing Co., 120 Fed. Rep. 480 (Circuit Court of Appeals). However that may be, there is no such obligation (to render monthly accounts) set forth in the bill as being part of the permit or license referred to therein. The bill simply avers that Daly did, at certain times, during the several years of said depredations, apply to and obtain from the lawful agents of the Government licenses to cut upon certain small portions of the tracts above described, and under cover of such permits the conspirators not only cut, carried away and manufactured timber growing on the said lands included in such licenses, but, well knowing that such permits gave them no right or authority to enter upon other lands, they willfully and fraudulently entered upon large tracts of land adjacent thereto and cut the timber therefrom. There is no mention of an obligation to render monthly accounts. The fact that the defendants had permission to cut timber on certain tracts of land described did not make their cutting of timber on other tracts the act of trustees ex maleficio. When they went outside of the tracts for which license was given, they committed a trespass for which they were liable at law. And, again, as the contents of the permits are not set forth, we cannot take judicial notice of such contents in any particular case. Different conditions may be contained in different permits, and they are the subject of the discretion of the department giving the permits.
It is also argued that a court of equity has jurisdiction in such a case as this on the ground of an accounting. We do not think that this is any such case as gives a court of equity jurisdiction because of an accounting being necessary. There are no accounts between the parties. The cause of action is one arising in tort and cannot be converted into one for an account. The case made is a plain trespass, for which the defendants are liable in damages. Or it might be termed an
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action in trover, as stated. Whatever books, if any, defendants may have kept, showing the amount and location of the timber cut and its value, can be perfectly well obtained by an inspection of these books in an action at law. No discovery is alleged to be necessary in aid of any action at law, although the bill shows that several such actions have in fact been commenced. The facts averred do not show jurisdiction for the general purpose of discovery.
Nor do we see that there is any jurisdiction on the ground of prevention of a multiplicity of suits. Those persons who were guilty of the wrong must be made parties in either court, in order to bind them. Such alleged multiplicity is not avoided in one court more than in the other. It is not a case where a few defendants may be made parties as representatives of a class holding under or claiming the same title or right, and so that a judgment against the representative defendants may bind all others of the class. There is no class and there can be no representatives.
We fail to see any fact alleged in this bill which constitutes a proper foundation for the jurisdiction of a court of equity. The Government counsel, however, assert that since the filing of this bill new and material facts have been discovered by the Government, which in the judgment of counsel would furnish foundation for a bill in equity, even though this bill is defective. In order to permit of the filing of such a bill, if counsel should be so advised, and so as not to run against a plea of res odjudicata, the judgment of dismissal is
Affirmed, without prejudice, etc.
MR. JUSTICE WHITE and MR. JUSTICE MCKENNA took no part in the decision of this case.
Opinion of the Court.
LOONEY v. METROPOLITAN RAILROAD COMPANY.
ERROR TO THE COURT OF APPEALS OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.
No. 173. Argued December 14, 15, 1905.-Decided February 19, 1906.
In an action for damages for personal injuries while the defendant has the
burden of proof of contributory negligence, the plaintiff must establish the grounds of defendant's liability; and to hold a master responsible a servant must show by substantive proof that the appliances furnished were defective, and knowledge of the defect or some omission in regard thereto. Negligence of defendant will not be inferred from the mere fact that the injury occurred, or from the presumption of care on the part of the plaintiff. There is equally a presumption that the defendant performed his duty.
The facts are stated in the opinion.
Mr. Maurice D. Rosenberg and Mr. Alexander Wolf, with whom Mr. Simon Lyon was on the brief, for plaintiff in error.
Mr. J.J. Darlington for defendants in error.
MR. JUSTICE MCKENNA delivered the opinion of the court.
Action brought by plaintiff as administratrix of the estate of James F. Looney, deceased, against the defendants, for damages for the death of her intestate, alleged to have been caused by defendants. Judgment went against plaintiff in the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia, which was affirmed by the Court of Appeals.
After the plaintiff had rested her case the court directed the jury to return a verdict for the defendants. The correctness of this ruling is the question in the case. The declaration consists of four counts. The first three
. allege the employment of the deceased by each of defendant
Opinion of the Court.
companies respectively. In the fourth the allegation is that he was rightfully and lawfully in the discharge of his duties.
Looney was employed as a "pitman" by the Washington and Great Falls Railroad Company (now the Washington and Electric Company), and was on the day of his death, July 28, 1901, in one of the "plow pits" located on the lines of the company, near its terminus, at Thirty-sixth street and Prospect avenue northwest.
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The Metropolitan Company's line connects at this point with that of the Great Falls line. The latter company uses the overhead system. By this system the power is conveyed to the car by means of a "trolley pole" attached to the top of the car and made to touch the trolley wire when used to propel the car. The Metropolitan Company uses the underground system by means of a "plow," so called, projecting through a slot in the tracks to an underground current. The two companies have a trackage arrangement, whereby the cars of the Metropolitan Company run over the line of the other company. The cars of the Metropolitan Company, therefore, are equipped not only with a "plow" and mechanism for the underground system, but with a trolley-pole and mechanism for an overhead system. To attach these mechanisms to their respective systems it is necessary to run a car over an excavation on the line of the Great Falls Company known as the "pit." The "pitman" is thus enabled to remove the "plow" from a car to be transferred from the Metropolitan line to the Great Falls line, and adjust or attach the wires or "leads" necessary for the operation of the car over the Great Falls line. While doing this Looney was killed, the plaintiff contends, through the negligence of the conductor of the car in permitting the trolley pole to come in contact with the trolley wire, whereby a current of electricity was transmitted to the motive machinery. And this is the ground of negligence charged in the declaration. In every count it is alleged "before said intestate entered said plow pit it became the duty of the defendants, and each of them, to keep, or cause to be kept, the electric current so cut VOL. CC-31