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Statement of the Case.
SCOTLAND COUNTY v. HILL.
ERROR TO THE CIRCUIT COURT
OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI.
No. 29. Argued April 16, 17, 1889. — Decided November 4, 1889.
The negotiable security of a municipal corporation, invalid in the hands of
the original holder by reason of an irregularity in its issue to which he was a party, but which becomes valid in the hands of an innocent purchaser for value without knowledge or notice of the irregularity, remains valid when acquired by another purchaser for value, who was no party to the irregularity, but who, at the time of his purchase, has knowledge of the infirmity, and of a pending suit against the original holder
and others to have the whole issue declared invalid by reason thereof. The litigations respecting the Scotland County bonds in the state courts
and in the courts of the United States reviewed. In the absence of a provision to the contrary, overdue coupons bear interest
at the legal rate in the place where they are payable.
This action was commenced in the year 1876 to recover on coupons issued by the county of Scotland, in Missouri, in payment of a subscription to the stock of the Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska Railway Company. Answer was made. In 1879 an amended complaint was filed, and, issue being joined, such proceedings were had in the cause that judgment was entered : for the plaintiff. To this judgment the defendant sued out a writ of error. Argument on this was had at October term 1884, which resulted in the remand of the cause for a new trial (112 U. S. 183). After the remand an amended answer was filed. Issue was joined and trial had, which resulted in a verdict for the plaintiff for $46,944, and judgment on the verdict. To this judgment the defendant sued out this writ
The case is stated as follows by the court in its opinion :
This writ of error brings up for review a judgment against the county of Scotland, in the State of Missouri, for the amount of certain coupons of bonds, bearing date September 1, 1870, and purporting to have been issued by that county to the Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska Railway Company, a cor
Statement of the Case.
poration created by the consolidation of the Alexandria and Nebraska City Railroad Company, of Missouri, (formerly known as the Alexandria and Bloomfield Railroad Company,) with the Iowa Southern Railway Company, of Iowa. The coupons are payable to bearer, at the Farmers' Loan and Trust Company, New York, while the bonds are payable to the above consolidated company, or bearer, at the same place, on the 31st of December, 1895, with interest thereon from December 31, 1870, payable annually in that city, at the rate of eight per cent per annum. Each bond recites that it is issued under and pursuant to an order of the county court, for subscription to the stock of the Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska Railway Company, “as authorized by an act of the General Assembly of the State of Missouri, entitled An act to incorporate the Alexandria and Bloomfield Railroad Company,' approved February 9, 1857.”
It appeared in proof that the county court, in conformity with the petition of taxpayers and residents, made an order, on the 9th of August, 1870, for the subscription of $200,000 to the stock of the Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska Railway Company, payable in coupon bonds of the above kind, and at the same time designated an agent with authority to make the subscription upon the books of the company, to represent the county at the meetings of stockholders, and to receive dividends on its stock. The order stated that the subscription was upon certain specified terms and conditions, among which was one providing for the delivery to the railway company of $100,000 of the bonds when the road was “graded, bridged and tied, the track laid, and the cars running thereon from Alexandria, Missouri, to a permanent depot, located within one-half mile of the court-house in Memphis," and for the delivery of the remaining $100,000 of bonds when the road was completed from Memphis to the west or north line of the county and the cars were running over it. By the same order the county attorney was directed to have the bonds printed, the presiding justice of the county to sign them, and the clerk to make proper attestation of his signature.
At the same time Charles Mety was appointed trustee for
Statement of the Case.
the county, and charged, in that capacity, with the duty of receiving the bonds from the county clerk as soon as they were issued, and of delivering them to the railway company, in exchange for stock, upon its complying with the conditions specified in the order for the subscription. The trustee was required to give bond in the sum of three hundred thousand dollars, for the faithful performance of his trust.
On the 11th of September, 1871 — the road being then nearly completed to Memphis, the county seat — Levi Wagner and other taxpayers and citizens brought a suit in the Circuit Court of Scotland County to perpetually enjoin Mety from delivering the bonds or coupons to the railway company. It was alleged, as a principal ground for such relief, that the subscription made by the county, to pay which the bonds had been executed, was without proper legal authority, and, therefore, null and void. The defendants in that suit were Mety, the county trustee and custodian of the bonds; Fullerton, county treasurer; Dawson, Cooper and Marguis, justices of the county, and sitting as the county court at the time the subscription was made; and the Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska Railway company. A few days prior to September 20, 1871, Mety went to Warsaw, Illinois, taking with him $100,000 of the bonds, to be there delivered to the railway company, upon the completion of the road to Memphis. He and the justices of the county court had then heard of the institution of the Wagner suit, and he went to Warsaw, under the direction of the members of that body, in order to evade the service upon him of the proposed injunction. While there he received from Dawson and Cooper, a majority of the justices composing the county court, an official communication, under date of September 20, 1871, in these words: “The iron is laid on the Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska Railway to the depot and the building is up. The company having complied with all the requirements, you will please deliver them the first hundred thousand dollars of the county's subscription and receive stock for the same.” He complied with this order by delivering the bonds, at Warsaw, on the same day, taking from the company, as suggested by the justices, its bond
Counsel for Plaintiff in Error.
indemnifying him against all damages, costs, expenses, etc., which he, as trustee for the county, might incur “by reason of certain injunction suits now pending in the Scotland County Circuit Court.” On the 11th of December, 1871, the county court, by an order entered upon its record, so modified the previous order of August 9, 1870, as to authorize Mety to deliver to the company the second instalment of $100,000 of bonds, upon the execution to him, as trustee, and to the county, of an indemnifying bond containing certain specified provisions. Such an obligation was immediately executed by the company, and the second instalment of bonds was thereupon delivered to it by the court while in session at the county seat.
The Wagner suit was taken, by change of venue, to the Circuit Court of Shelby County, Missouri, by which a final decree was rendered on the 2d of June, 1874, declaring the bonds void for the want of legal authority in the Scotland County Court to make the subscription of stock in the Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska Railway Company, and ordering them to be surrendered for cancellation. This decree was affirmed by the Supreme Court of Missouri, at its October term, 1878. That judgment of affirmance proceeded, mainly, upon the ground that, as the privilege given, by its charter of 1857, to the Alexandria and Bloomfield Railroad Company, afterwards the Alexandria and Nebraska City Railroad Company, (Laws of Missouri, 1865–6, 222,) of having municipal subscriptions without a previous vote of the people, was not exercised prior to the formation, by consolidation, in 1870, of the Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska Railway Company, such privilege passed, if at all, to the consolidated company, subject to the prohibition in the state constitution of 1865 against municipal subscriptions to corporations or companies, except upon the previous sanction of two-thirds of the qualified voters at a regular or special election for that purpose. ner v. Mety, 69 Missouri, 150. That ruling, the court said, was in harmony with its previous decision in State ex rel. Wilson v. Garroutte, 67 Missouri, 445.
Mr. Henry A. Cunningham for plaintiff in error.
Opinion of the Court.
Mr. J. H. Over
Mr. F. T. Hughes for defendant in error. all was with him on the brief.
MR. JUSTICE HARLAN delivered the opinion of the court. After stating the case as above reported, he continued:
The question of power in the county court to subscribe to the stock of the Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska Railway Company, without a previous vote of the people, and to issue bonds in payment of its subscription, was directly presented and determined, upon full consideration, in County of Scotland v. Thomas, 94 U. S. 682, decided in 1876. The coupons there in suit were of the same issue of bonds as those from which the coupons in the present suit were detached. It is true that that case was determined upon demurrer to the complaint. But that fact does not weaken the force of the decision, so far as it bears upon the question of legal authority in the county court to make the subscription. The record and opinion in that case show that it was stipulated between the parties that the question of subscribing to the stock of the Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska Railway Company had never been submitted to a vote of the qualified voters of Scotland County, and that, in determining the demurrer, the court should consider that fact, as if it had been averred in the complaint. It was also agreed that the court should consider as facts admitted the articles of consolidation between the Iowa Southern Railway Company and the Alexandria and Nebraska City Railroad Company, and the above orders of the county court of Scotland County. It was held that the privilege given to the Alexandria and Bloomfield Railroad Company, by its charter of 1857, of receiving county subscriptions, was not extinguished by the subsequent consolidation in 1870 of that company with other companies, but passed with its other rights and privileges into the new condition of existence arising from such consolidation; that, in making the subscription in that case, which is the identical subscription here in question, the county court acted “as the representative authority of the county itself, officially invested with all the discretion necessary to be exercised under