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McCormick v. Gray et al.

the submission, and which constituted a limitation on his authority

It is said that, by the terms of the agreement between the parties contained in the assignment, these debts were to be paid as they should become due, and that to support the award the court will intend, they were all payable at the time it was made. But if this were intended, the agreement would nevertheless remain, by force of which McCormick's patent fees were to be first paid, out of the proceeds of that particular part of the property assigned.

The partners agreed in the assignment, that, after paying McCormick the sum of $14,610, and discharging the legal liabilities of the firm, the balance of the assets assigned, as fast as collected, should be paid, one half to McCormick, one fourth to Gray, and the remaining fourth to certain assignees of Gray, but that each partner should have a lien on the share of the other, for any balance found due to him by the arbitrator: and that McCormick should have a lien on Gray's share, in the hands of the assignee, for a specific claim of twenty-five hundired dollars, together with any further amount which might prove to be due to himn according to an account therein agreed to be rendered.

Upon the face of the award we are unable, by any fair intendment, to reconcile it with these stipulations. The radical error of the arbitrator seems to have been, that he disregarded these arrangements of the parties, by which they had finally bound so much of their assets as were in the hands of the assignee. It was his duty to assume that their contract, in respect to this part of the partnership property, was to be specifically executed, and then proceed to consider the equities of the parties in consequence of such an appropriation of those funds, as well as in consequence of the other facts. But each partner had a right to the specific performance of the trusts declared in the assignment, and the submission gave no power to the arbitrator to make an award inconsistent with their execution. But this award is so. In one aspect of this bill, it is a bill for the execution of those trusts, and no reason appears why they should not be executed, except the award. If the award is valid, the court below rightly decided that the bill must be dismissed, for it not only bars the general account of the partnership transactions, but destroys the particular trusts created by the assignment in favor of each partner, in respect to the proceeds of the choses in action assigned. Yet it was expressly agreed that the arbitrator should do nothing which could have that effect, and so far as the award is relied on as a defence to the bill against Gray and Ogden, the trustee, to have these trusts

McCormick v. Gray et al.

performed, it is in direct conflict with the express words of the submission.

It is suggested that the award may be held valid in part, and so far as it does pursue the submission. There are cases in which, after rejecting part of an award, the residue is sufficiently final, certain, and in conformity with the submission, to stand ; but it is indispensable that the part thus allowed to stand should appear to be in no way affected by the departure from the submission. In the present case this does not appear. On the contrary, the basis of this whole award is erroneous, resting on the assumption that the disposal of the entire assets of the partnership was the subject of the award, and it is certain the arbi. trator could prop::rly have made no part of this award, as it stands, if he had assumed that the trusts declared in the assignment were to be executed.

It is objected that the amount in controversy is not sufficient to justify an appeal to this court; but this is a suit for an account involving very large sums of money, the complainant claiming sums greatly exceeding two thousand dollars, by force of the assignment and otherwise, and the defendant Gray insisting on the award, as a bar to the whole claim. It is no answer to say that, if this suit should be defeated, the complainant may have some other title, which will not be worth two thousand dollars less than the value of what he now claims. The question is, whether the matter in dispute in this suit is of the value of two thousand dollars. Besides, this matter is a claim for an ac. count far exceeding that amount, and it does not appear that the defendant conccdes to the complainant his whole claim, except some sum less than two thousand dollars. There remains, therefore, a dispute concerning this large claim, not narrowed by any concession of the defendant, so as to be reduced below the sum which is required by law for an appeal. It is urged, also, that the appeal is not well taken, because the complainant obtained leave to amend, after the decree dismissing the bill was entered. But it appears from the record that this decree to dismiss the bill was regularly stricken out before the leave to amend was granted, and afterwards, when the complainant elected not to amend, the bill was ordered to be dismissed by reason of the demurrer. From this last-mentioned decree the appeal was taken, and it was regularly and properly allowed.

The decree of the Circuit Court must be reversed, and the case remanded with directions to that court to overrule the demurrer, and order the defendants to answer the bill.

The United States o. Ferreira.


This cause came on to be heard on the transcript of the record from the Circuit Court of the United States for the Distriet of Illinois, and was argued by counsel. On consideration whereof, it is now bere ordered, adjudged, and decreed by this court, that the decree of the said Circuit Court in this cause be, and the same is hereby reversed with costs, and that this cause be, and the same is hereby remanded to the said Circuit Court, with directions to overrule the demurrer, and order the defendants to answer the bill.

The United States, APPELLANTS, v. Francis P. FERREIRA,


The treaty of 1819, between the United States and Spain, contains the following

stipulation, viz.:“The United States shall cause satisfaction to be made for the injuries, if any, which

by process of law shall be established to have been suffered by the Spanish officers and individual Spanish inhabitants by the late operations of the American army

in Florida." Congress, by two acts passed in 1823 and 1834, (3 Stat. at Large 768, and 6 Stat. at

Large 569,) directed the judge of the Territorial Court of Florida to receive, examine, and adjudge all cases of claims for losses, and report his decisions, if in favor of the claimants, together with the evidence upon which they were founded, to the Secre tary of the Treasury, who, on being satisfied that the same was just and equitable, within the provisions of the treaty, should pay the amount thereof; and by an act of 1849, (9 Stat. at Large p. 788,) Congress directed the judge of the District Court of the United States for the Northern District of Florida, to receive and adjudicate

certain claims in the manner directed by the preceding acts. From the award of the district judge, an appeal does not lic to this court. As the treaty itself designated no tribunal to assess the damages, it remained for

Congress to do so by referring the claims to a commissioner according to the established practice of the government in such cases. His decision was not the judge ment of a court, but a mere award, with a power to review it, conferred upon the Secretary of the Treasury.

(Mr. Justice WAYNE did not sit in this cause.)

This was an appeal from the District Court of the United. States for the Northern District of Florida.

The facts of the case are stated in the opinion of the court.

It was argued by Mr. Crittenden, who placed the case upon the ground which will be presently stated, and by Mr. Johnson for the appellee. There were also briefs filed on the same side by Mr. Sherman, Mr. W. Cost Johnson, and Mr. Ewing.

Mr. Crittenden, after giving a history. of the cause and the laws, proceeded.

The United States v. Ferreira.

The District Judge, being satisfied with the causes assigned why this claim was not presented under the act of 1834, adjudicated to the petitioner, upon his claim and proof, as the amount or value of his losses, $6,080, and for interest thereon at the rate of 5 per cent. from the tenth of May, 1813, to the 26th June, 1835, $6,726.83, making in all $12,806.83.

From this decision the District Attorney prayed an appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States, “ to the end, that he might, if the laws allowed it, prosecute such appeal if instructed to do so." I know nothing more of this proceeding than that, upon this appeal, the case has been brought to this court; and being here, it would be quite agreeable to me if the court would, by its high authority, settle and determine all the questions that arise out of this case, and which are presented before the Treasury Department in many others of a like character, and especi. ally the question respecting the allowance of interest on the amount of the losses or injuries sustained by the claimants.

These questions have from the first been subjects of controversy between the claimants and the Secretary of the Treasury, and are likely to continue so till some higher authority shall interpose. It would be conducive to the public interest, and certainly desirable to the government, to obtain the judgment and directions of this enlightened court on this vexed subject.

In the adjustment or adjudication of these Florida claims by the Florida judges, interest was allowed, except in a few in. stances. The first of these adjudications were presented to the Secretary of the Treasury for payment in the year 1825, and others have been constantly and successively presented from that time to the present. The number of claims thus presented is about two hundred, and the amount paid has exceeded one million of dollars. But from the first, and in every case where interest had been allowed by the Florida judge, the principal only was paid, and the interest disallowed and rejected by the Secretary of the Treasury. For the period of the last twenty-five years this has been the unvaried and uniform course of decision and action by every successive Secretary of the Treasury, who has acted on the subject, sustained by the official opinions of several attorneysgeneral, and without the expressed dissent of any one of them officially declared.

It is respectfully insisted on the part of the United States that such a uniform and long continued series and course of decision has made the disallowance of interest, in whatever form awarded, a res adjudicata.

Congress had power to create a special tribunal, with jurisdiction to examine and adjust or adjudge these claims arising under the treaty with Spain. Their power in this respect was The Uniied States ». Ferreira.

plenary and discretionary. By the acts above referred to they exercised that power, and created such a tribunal. It was a judicatory tribunal which they established, consisting of two parts or members, namely, one of the territorial judges of Flo. rida to act and decide in the first instance; and secondly, the Secretary to exercise a revisory power or jurisdiction over the decisions of the Florida judge, paying the amount of them only “ on being satisfied that the same is just and equitable within the provisions of the treaty." To this tribunal, thus constituted, Congress gave authority to decide on these claims; the decision of the Secretary of the Treasury being revisory and final. His decision was in its nature judicial, and made of the matter decided, a res adjudicata, in every rational and legitimate sense of those terms. The decision of a special or limited tribunal upon a subject within its jurisdiction is just as conclusive and binding as the judgments of courts of the highest and most unlimited jurisdiction.

The present case is, in its origin, and in respect tự the question of interest, identical with the other Florida cases above alluded to.

I take it for granted that the substitution of the judge of the District Court of the United States, &c., in place of the territorial judge, as the person to adjust or adjudge these claims, can in no respect make any material difference. The authority of the one and the other is exactly the same, and the effect of their acts the same, whether they bu called judges, or commissioners as in the above-cited act of Congress of 22d February, 1847. The act of Congress is the measure of their authority and. of the effect of their proceedings under that authority.

Mr. Johnson was the only counsel who argued the case orally, for the appellee; the other counsel filed briefs. It is proper to say, that a motion had been made by the counsel for the appellee to dismiss the case for want of jurisdiction. This may serve to explain the preliminary remarks of Mr. Johnson, which were as follows:

It is our carnest wish, in behalf of the appellee, that this court should take jurisdiction of the case, and hear and decide it upon the merits, that if the decision of the court below be wrong, its errors may be corrected, and we may know the limits of our rights; and if the decision be correct, that it may be so pronounced by the authoritative voice of this high tribunal.

Nevertheless, in order to raise such questions as may be thus raised, we have found : necessary to move to dismiss the appeal. In the consideration of that motion, however, we do not feel bound to use such arguments only as will tend to show that

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