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Opinion of the Court.
assignor after the assignment is made, or preceding it, but in contemplation of it, however fraudulent that act may be, shall divest the right of the creditors to have the trust administered for their benefit in accordance with the spirit of the statute; and that, therefore, the provision reserving the surplus to the debtor after payment of the debts to the consenting creditors, even though conceded to be not in conformity with the requirements of the statute, and therefore itself void, does not vitiate the assignment or prevent its execution for the benefit of the creditors, as provided in the statute.
These principles apply with controlling force to the assignment in the case at bar. The ingenious argument of the counsel has failed to point out any distinguishing features in the two cases.
The first ground upon which this deed is assailed is the following clause therein: “The said Fred. Muller and A. Jacobs are hereby authorized and directed to take possession at once of all the property above conveyed, and convert the same into cash as soon and upon the best terms possible for the best interest of our creditors;” which language the court below and the counsel for the defendants claim is an authority to the assignee to sell upon credit. We do not think that such is a correct or fair interpretation of the clause, taking the whole instrument together and construing it with reference to the purpose manifest in all its other provisions. A positive direction to “convert” the property assigned "into cash as soon and upon the best terms possible for the best interest of our creditors," can hardly be construed into a discretionary authority to sell on credit, without doing violence to the wellestablished rule that the power to sell on credit will not be inferred from language susceptible of a different construction. Burrill on Assignments, $ 224.
But even if we concede that the construction contended for be correct, and that the clause thus construed is in contravention of the statute, it will not, as this court has decided, operate to annul the assignment in which all the creditors may have an interest. In Kellogg & Co. v. Muller, 68 Texas, 182, 184, this very point we are now considering was presented and
Opinion of the Court.
decided by the court in the following language: “The first exception to the deed is that it authorized the assignee to sell the property assigned on a credit, and is, therefore, void. The provision to which we are cited in support of the exception is as follows: “That so soon as said inventory is complete, the said Frederick Muller, as such trustee aforesaid, shall thereafter, with all reasonable dispatch, proceed to sell and dispose of said goods, wares and merchandise and furniture, and collect said book accounts and bills receivable, converting the same into cash or its equivalent. It may be doubted if this can be construed to empower the assigned to sell for anything but money.
But, however this may be, even if a badge of fraud, it is not sufficient to authorize the court to hold the deed void upon its face;" citing Baldwin v. Peet, 22 Texas, 708.
In the assignment before us all the property conveyed by it is in terms devoted to the payment of the creditors of the insolvent debtor. The judgment of the court below adjudging it to be void upon its face, because it permitted a sale on credit, was erroneous.
The second objection, that the deed was not made to one assignee, does not require any extended comment. Under the common law an insolvent debtor was permitted to make an assignment to a single individual or to several. Burrill on Assignments, $ 91. It is true the act of March 24, 1879, speaks only of an assignee ; but the statutory rule of construction in force in Texas is: “The singular and plural number shall each include the other, unless otherwise expressly provided." Rev. Stat. of Texas (1879), Art. 3138, subdivision 4. Under this rule, and keeping in mind the policy of the statute of 1879, regulating assignments, we do not think the deed of assignment in this case void for the second reason assigned. For the reasons given the decree of the court below is reversed
and the case remanded, with directions to take such further proceedings as shall not be inconsistent with this opinion.
Counsel for Parties.
(DAHO AND OREGON LAND IMPROVEMENT COM
PANY V. BRADBURY.
ERROR TO AND APPEAL FROM THE SUPREME COURT OF THE TER
RITORY OF IDAHO.
No. 105. Submitted November 13, 1889. – Decided December 23, 1889.
Where the certificate of aụthentication of a record transmitted to this court
on appeal begins by setting out the name and office of the clerk of the court below as the maker of the certificate, and has appended to it the seal of the court, but lacks the signature of the clerk, this court has jurisdiction of the appeal; and, if no motion to dismiss is made until it is too late to take a new appeal, will permit the certificate to be amended
by adding the clerk's signature. Under the act of April 7, 1874, c. 80, $ 2, an appeal, and not a writ of error,
lies to this court from the decree of a territorial court in a proceeding in the nature of a suit in equity, although issues of fact have been sub
mitted to a jury. On appeal from the decree of a territorial court in a proceeding in the
nature of a suit in equity, this court cannot consider the weight or sufficiency of evidence, but only whether the facts found by the court below support the decree, and whether there is any error in rulings, duly ex
cepted to, on the admission or rejection of evidence. A suit to enforce a mechanic's lien under a territorial statute authorizing the
court to order the real estate subject to the lien to be sold, and any deficiency to be paid by the owner, as in suits for the foreclosure of
mortgages, is in the nature of a suit in equity. A court of equity need not formally set aside the verdict of a jury upon
issues submitted to it, before making a decree according to its own view
of the evidence. In a suit in the nature of a suit in equity, a territorial court, after a jury
has found upon special issues submitted to it, and has also returned a general verdict, may set aside the general verdict, and substitute its own findings of fact for the special findings of the jury.
The case is stated in the opinion.
Mr. C. W. Ilolcomb and Mr. J. II. McGowan for appellant.
Mr. Samuel Shellabarger and Mr. Jeremiah M. Wilson for appellees.
Opinion of the Court.
MR. JUSTICE Gray delivered the opinion of the court.
This suit was commenced by Bradbury and Reinhart against the Idaho and Oregon Land Improvement Company by a complaint filed in a district court of the Territory of Idaho on September 24, 1883, alleging, in substance, that on April 13, 1883, the parties made an agreement in writing, by which the plaintiffs agreed to construct, upon the defendant's land, and on a line designated by the defendant's engineer in charge of the work, a ditch four miles long, eight feet wide and two feet deep, and of a certain grade and slope, at certain prices by the cubic yard for the material moved, and on other terms expressed in the agreement (a copy of which was annexed); that on May 17, 1883, the parties made a supplemental agreement (a copy of which was also annexed) increasing the rate of compensation in some respects; that on June 1, 1883, after the ditch had been completed by the plaintiffs and accepted by the defendant, the parties came to a settlement, upon which it was ascertained and agreed that there was due from the defendant to the plaintiffs the sum of $16,774.49, of which $10,000 was paid, and for the rest of which the defendant gave its acceptance for the sum of $6774.49, payable in fifteen days, which was duly presented at maturity, but in no part paid, and on June 27, 1883, was protested for nonpayment, and that sum, with interest at the rate of one and a half per cent a month, was now due from the defendant to the plaintiffs; and that the plaintiffs, in order to perfect a lien on the ditch and adjoining land as security for the payment of that sum, on July 12, 1883, filed with the recorder of the county, as required by chapter 48 of the Code of Civil Procedure of Idaho Territory, a claim (a copy of which was annexed to the complaint) stating the substance of the original and supplemental contracts, and the balance due as aforesaid.
The complaint prayed for judgment directing a sale of the premises, and the application of the proceeds to the payment of the plaintiffs’ claim, with interest as aforesaid, and costs, and twenty per cent damages, as provided by the statutes of the Territory, and also to the payment of the holders of any
Opinion of the Court.
other liens who might come in; and that the plaintiffs might have judgment against the defendant for any deficiency in the proceeds of such sale to satisfy the amount due them, and for further relief.
The answer denied the completion of the ditch by the plaintiffs and its acceptance by the defendant, or that there was due from the defendant to the plaintiffs more than the sum of $500; and alleged that, if any settlement was made between the parties, it was under a misapprehension of facts caused by false and fraudulent statements of the plaintiffs that the ditch had been completed according to the contracts.
The court submitted several special issues to a jury, who found some of them in favor of the plaintiffs and failed to agree upon others, and returned a general verdict for the plaintiffs in the sum of $4274.49 and interest.
The court set aside the general verdict; and made and filed findings of fact, adopting as part thereof the findings of the jury as far as they went, and substantially supporting all the allegations of the complaint; and from the facts so found made the following conclusions of law:
“1st. That the plaintiffs are entitled to a judgment for the sum of $10,107.52, and for costs, which includes the sum found due, interest, and protest damages.
“2d. That the plaintiffs are entitled to a decree of foreclosure of the lien set forth in their complaint, and it is so ordered.”
By the final decree, rendered at a hearing upon the pleadings “and upon the proofs, records and evidence produced by the respective parties, and the court having heard the proofs necessary to enable it to render judgment herein, and it appearing to the court from the proofs herein that there is now due to the plaintiffs from the defendant the sum of $10,107.52, for principal, damages and interest upon the debt set forth in the complaint, and that all the allegations in the
complaint are true,” the court ordered a sale of the premises by public auction; the payment, out of the proceeds, to the plaintiffs, of the sum of $10,107.52, with costs, and interest at the rate of ten per cent from the date of the decree; and the amount of any deficiency to be paid by the defendant to the plaintiffs.