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in accordance with the terms thereof. The agreement was not to be-
part thereof to the plaintiff. For a further and separate defense, and by way of counterclaim, it is alleged that in the spring of 1908, and before the irrigation season of that year, the plaintiff by its officers and agents in charge and control of the irrigation system wrongfully and unlawfully demanded of the defendants the sum of $1,500 in advance for the year 1908 as a pretended charge for maintenance and operation at the rate of $1.50 per acre, and contrary to the terms and conditions of the contracts between the plaintiff and the defendants; that the defendant refused to pay such sum, whereupon the plaintiff, by its agents and officers, wrongfully and unlawfully and contrary to the terms and conditions of the contracts, shut off the water from the lands of the defendants, and refused to permit them to use water from such system to irrigate their lands for the season of 1908, unless they would pay in advance the sum of $1,500 for said pretended claim for expenses and cost of maintenance, and thereupon, in order to save their crops, they were forced to yield to said demand, and did on or about the – day of May, 1908, pay the fiscal agent of the plaintiff the said sum of $1,500 under protest, in advance, for the pretended claim for expenses of maintenance and operation for the year 1908; that said sum was wrongfully and unlawfully extorted from defendants, and paid by them under protest, for which they demand judgment against the plaintiff, together with interest at the rate of 6 per cent. per annum from the date of the filing of the answer until paid. The plaintiff moved to strike out that portion of the answer in which the statements and representations of Humphreys are set out, and demurred to the second defense on the ground that the facts therein stated constitute no defense or set-off to this action. When the matter came on for hearing, the defendants challenged the sufficiency of the complaint on the ground that it does not state facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action, for the reason that in the contracts sued on it is stipulated that the defendant shall only pay the charges duly levied against them for the maintenance and operation of the system, and that, under the national reclamation act, the Secretary of the Interior has no power or authority to levy or collect such charges during the time the system is in process of construction, and before its management passes to the owners of the lands irrigated thereby. This presents the first question for consideration. By section 4 of the national reclamation act (32 St. at Large, 389) it is provided: “That upon the determination by the Secretary of the Interior that any irrigation project is practicable, he may cause to be let contracts for the construction of the same, in such portions or sections as it may be practicable to construct and complete as parts of the whole project, providing the necessary funds for such portions or sections are available in the Reclamation fund, and thereupon he shall give public notice of the lands irrigable under such project, and limit of area per entry, which limit shall represent the acreage, which, in the opinion of the Secretary, may be reasonably required for the support of a family upon the lands in question; also of the charges which shall be made per acre, upon the said entries and upon lands in private ownership which may
| irrigated by the waters of the said irrigation project, and the number of annual installments, not exceeding ten, in which such charges shall be paid,
and the time when such payments shall commence. The said charges shall be determined with a view of returning to the reclamation fund the estimated cost of construction of the project, and shall be proportioned equitably.”
By section 6 the Secretary is—
“authorized and directed to use the reclamation fund for the operation and maintenance of all reservoirs and irrigation works constructed under the provisions of this act: Provided that when the payments required by this act are made for the major portion of the lands irrigated from the waters of any of the works herein provided for, then the management and operation of such irrigation works shall pass to the owners of the lands irrigated thereby, to be maintained at their expense under such form of organization and under such rules and regulations as may be acceptable to the Secretary Of the Interior: Provided, that the title to and the management and operation of the reservoirs and works necessary for their protection and operation shall remain in the government until otherwise provided by Congress.”
The argument is that section 6 requires the cost of the maintenance and operation of all reservoirs and irrigation works constructed under the provisions of the act to be paid from the reclamation fund, until the management thereof shall pass to the owners of the lands irrigated thereby, and that the Secretary is not authorized to make any charge against the land irrigated for the maintenance and operation of any portion of the system which may be completed and used for irrigation purposes prior to that time. This I take to be an unwarranted interpretation of the act. It provides that, after a contract is made for the construction of the irrigation system or some portion thereof, the Secretary of the Interior shall give public notice of the lands irrigable under the system, the limit of the area per entry, and the charges which shall be made upon such entries, and the lands in private ownership which may be irrigated therefrom.
There is no express restriction upon the authority of the Secretary in making such charges upon entries and lands in private ownership within the meaning of the law, except that they shall be determined with a view of returning to the “reclamation fund the entire cost of construction,” and that they “shall be apportioned equitably.” The matter is left entirely to the judgment of that officer, and he may fix the charges at such reasonable sums as he may deem advisable and necessary to carry out the provisions of the act, and to return to the reclamation fund the estimated cost of the project; the object being to keep the fund intact, and to make each project pay for itself. It is manifest that Congress did not intend that a completed portion of the system should not be used for irrigation prior to the time the required payments are made for the major portions of the lands within the project, or that water should be furnished by the government free of cost to the settlers. The purpose of the act is to encourage the settlement and cultivation of arid public lands, and it contemplates that such lands may be entered upon as soon as the irrigation system is so far completed that water may be furnished thereby for irrigation purposes. When, therefore, it empowered the Secretary of the Interior to fix and determine the charges against the land, it must have intended that he should thereby cover the cost of maintenance and operation while in control of the United States, as well as construction. I cannot find anything in the language which makes it unlawful for the Secretary to divide the charges made by him against the land into two parts, one for construction and the other for maintenance and operation. It is true he is authorized by section 6 to use the reclamation fund for the operation and maintenance of the system until the management thereof passes to the landowners, but he is at the same time required by section 4 to levy such a charge against the land as will return to the fund the estimated cost thereof. Unless, therefore, he has authority to cover the cost of operation and maintenance by charge upon the lands, the system must lie dormant and unused until the major portion of the entrymen shall pay the charges for cost of construction in full, or in time the fund will be exhausted and depleted, a result evidently not intended by Congress. Such a construction of the act is not required by its language, and would be inconsistent with its general intent and purposes. The objection to the complaint is not well taken. It does not follow, however, that the maintenance charges fixed by the Secretary of the Interior are conclusive as against the defendants. This action is on an express contract entered into between them and the government. The liability and duty of both parties to the agreement are measured by the terms of the contract. By it the defendants agreed to pay to the United States the charges duly levied against their lands for the purposes stated. This necessarily means charges which the government is authorized to collect, and such as are reasonable, and the proportionate share of the cost of maintaining and operating the system, properly chargeable to their lands, and not such as may be arbitrarily fixed in advance by the other contracting party. The motion to strike out parts of the answer should be sustained. It is a rule of law that all oral negotiations preceding a written contract are conclusively presumed to be embodied in the writing itself, and especially is this true in this case where the contract shows on its face that it was not to become binding until approved by the Secretary of the Interior. It was the agreement as finally approved by that officer that embodied the terms of the contract between the government and the defendants, and any statements or representations made by the local engineer as to its construction, or as to the liability of the defendants thereunder, were a mere matter of opinion, and not binding upon the complainant. The demurrer to the second separate defense must also be sustained. It will be noted that the matter therein set out is pleaded in the form of a set-off or counterclaim, with demand for judgment against the United States. Section 951, Rev. St. (U. S. Comp. St. 1901, p. 695), provides that: o
“In suits brought by the United States against individuals, no claim for a credit shall be admitted, upon trial except such as appear, to have been presented to the accounting officers of the treasury, for their examination, and to have been by them disallowed, in whole or in part, unless it is proved to the satisfaction of the court that the defendant is at the time of the trial, in possession of vouchers not before in his power to procure, and that he was prevented from exhibiting a claim for such credit at the treasury by absence from the United States or by some unavoidable accident.”
A set-off is a creation of the statute, and did not exist at common law. In an action brought by the United States, if it exists at all,
it is conferred by St., § 951, and, before it can be asserted in a court, it must appear that the claim has been presented to an accounting officer of the Treasury and disallowed, or the pleadings must bring the case within some of the exceptions specified in the statute. Schaumburg v. U. S., 103 U. S. 667, 26 L. Ed. 599; U. S. v. Eckford, 73 U. S. 484, 18 L. Ed. 920; Reeside v. Secy. Treasury of U. S., 11 Howard, 272, 13 L. Ed. 693; U. S. v. Patterson (C. C.) 91 Fed. 854; Yates v. U. S., 90 Fed. 57, 32 C. C. A. 507.
In re CLARK et al.
1. JUDGMENT (§ 72*)—STIPULATroN–Scope.
2. JUDGMENT (§ 91*)—ScoPE—STIPULATION. Where, in a suit to set aside a mortgage for fraud, the parties stipulated that, the court having directed findings and judgment for plaintiff, and the parties having agreed on a settlement, formal judgment should be entered, adjudging the mortgage void, and that defendants were estopped in equity from asserting as against plaintiff the mortgage mentioned in their answer, and that plaintiff was entitled to the surplus moneys in the hands of the county treasurer; the property having been sold under a prior mortgage. Held, that a judgment entered on such stipulation adjudicated only that the mortgage was void, and that the mortgagees were estopped in equity to assert the same and to claim the surplus moneys as against plaintiff, and did not determine that the mortgagees' claim, or any part of it, which the mortgage was given to secure, was invalid. [Ed. Note.—For other cases, see Judgment, Dec. Dig. § 91.*]
3. BANKRUPTCY (§ 32S*)—CLAIMs—FILING-TIME. Mortgagors were adjudged bankrupts September 21, 1907. On October 28, 1908, the trustee sued to set aside the mortgage as in fraud of creditors, resulting in a judgment for plaintiff entered October 7, 1909, on a decision on a stipulation dated September 27, 1909. On October 2, 1909, the mortgagees filed their claim as a debt against the bankrupt's estate, which was amended on December 15th. Held, that the proof of claim should be deemed to have been filed October 2, 1909, though perfected at a later date, and, having been filed within 60 days after the stipulation was made and the right to enter judgment perfected, it was in time. [Ed. Note—For other cases, see Bankruptcy, Cent. Dig. § 518; Dec. Dig. § 328.*] 4. BANkruptcy (§ 311*)—PREFERENTIAL MoRTGAGE–WACATION of PREFERENCE —FILING CLAIMs. If a preferential mortgage is annulled in bankruptcy proceedings, the creditor preferred may thereafter prove his claim to secure which the mortgage was given, and have it allowed. [Ed. Note—For other cases, see Bankruptcy, Cent. Dig. §§ 497–500; Dec. Dig. § 311.*] 5. BANkruptcy (§ 32S*)–CIAIMs—FILING-TIME-LIQUIDATION. Bankr. Act July 1, 1898, c. 541, § 57n, 30 Stat. 544 (U. S. Comp. St. 1901, p. 3444), provides that claims shall not be proved against, a bankrupt's estate subsequent to one year after adjudication, or, if they are liquidated by litigation, and the final judgment therein is rendered within 30 days before or after the expiration of such time, then within 60 days
•For other cases see same topic & 5 NUMBER in Dec. & Am. Digs. 1907 to date, & Rep'r Indexes