The contest in this case lies between the plaintiff and the firm of Corey Brothers & Company on the one hand and the Mortgage Trust Company on the other. The former demand priority of lien for their respective claims over that of the mortgage held by the Mortgage Trust Company upon the property of the Bear Lake Company.
It will be convenient to separately examine these claims.
First. As to the plaintiff's alleged lien. At the time when the plaintiff entered into his contract and commenced work under it the lien law of 1888 was in force, one of the sections of which, § 3810, s. 1061, provided that the lien mentioned in the act was to be preferred to any other which might attach subsequently to the time when the building, improvement, or structure was commenced, work done, or materials were commenced to be furnished. As the work of the plaintiff under his contract was commenced on the 31st of August, 1889, and continued up to December, 1890, while the mortgage to the Mortgage Trust Company was not executed until October, 1889, it is conceded by the counsel for the latter company that if the plaintiff had complied in all respects with the provisions
"SEC. 21. No lien claimed by virtue of this act shall hold the property longer than one year after filing the statement firstly described in section 10, unless an action be commenced within that time to enforce the same."
This action was commenced within one year after filing the statement of the plaintiff's claim, and he therefore insists that it was commenced in time, and that his lien should have priority. In that contention he is met by the claim of the Mortgage Company that the section referred to does not affect the plaintiff's case, as the contract between him and the Bear Lake Company was entered into and a large amount of the work was done under it prior to March, 1890, and while the act of 1888 was in force, and that by the express terms of the proviso in § 32 of the act of 1890 the repeal of the act of 1888 did not affect any right or remedy, nor abate any suit or proceeding existing, instituted or pending under the laws thereby repealed.
The terms of the act of 1890 are thus cited as a limitation of the plaintiff to the provisions of the act of 1888. If plaintiff be thus confined he cannot maintain this action, as he did not commence it until some time after the expiration of the ninety days from the date of filing his claim.
Upon comparing the two acts of 1888 and 1890 together, it is seen that they both legislate upon the same subject, and in many cases the provisions of the two statutes are similar and almost identical. Although there is a formal repeal of the old by the new statute, still there never has been a moment of time since the passage of the act of 1888 when these similar
It is true that the law in the Joliffe case did not contain any saving of or provision for the rights and remedies of the pilot, but the foundation of the reasoning by which the court concluded that the new should be treated as a continuation of the old statute, with modifications, did not rest alone upon this omission. It was chiefly based upon the facts above stated: the similarity of the subjects-matter of the two statutes, and that the effect was a continuation of the old statute as modified by the new, notwithstanding the use of language which formally repealed the old statute.
The omission to provide for the rights of the pilot does not, therefore, detract from the authority of the case for the purpose for which it is here cited.
The two acts in question here are of a similar nature, relating to the same general subject-matter, and making provisions for the creation and enforcement of mechanic's liens. The new act of 1890, although in terms repealing the earlier act, is yet in truth, and for the reasons already given, a continuation of that act with the modifications as provided in the new one. One of those modifications is the extension of the time in which to commence the action to foreclose the lien after the filing of the statement which claims it. Where at the time of
It may be asked what effect is given under this construction to the language of the proviso contained in § 32 of the act of 1890, already quoted. The answer is that the mere enlargement of the time in which to commence the action, at least in a case where the time had not yet arrived in which to file any statement of the plaintiff's claim for a lien, does not affect any right or remedy provided for in the old act. The right, as that term is used in the statute, consisted of the right of sale of the property in order, if necessary, to obtain payment of the money due the contractor. The remedy consisted of the taking of certain proceedings by which this sale was to be accomplished. Prior to the arrival of the time when one of these steps was to be taken an alteration of the statute by which the time to take that step might be enlarged was not an alteration of the right or of the remedy, as those terms are used in the statute, nor did it in any way affect either; it was simply an alteration of the mere procedure in the course of an employment of a remedy, the remedy itself remaining untouched or unaffected by such alteration. In this case such an enlargement of time to commence an action was given before the time had arrived in which the action could have been commenced under the old statute. The new statute was prospective in its operation, even as applied to this case. Of course, if the new act had curtailed the time in which to bring the action, after the time had commenced to run under the old statute, totally different considerations would spring up, and what was a mere alteration of procedure, having really nothing to do with a remedy in the one case, might, in the other, most seriously affect it, and hence come within the proviso in question. Under the facts of this case the right or remedy of the plaintiff was not touched, or, in the language of the proviso, was not "affected" by the enlargement of the time in
Under the construction given by us to the act of 1890, as a continuation of that of 1888, with modifications, the question as to which act the lien is claimed under is not specially material. In effect, it is one act, and those labors, etc., which were performed before the passage of the act of 1890 are added to those performed thereafter. The lien is really claimed by virtue of the fact that at the time when the contract was entered into the statute of Utah provided such a right or remedy, and although the action to foreclose the lien was commenced under the provisions of the act of 1890, yet the right itself commenced under the old act. That right is not affected by any provision of the new act, and although it is claimed that the right and the remedy must go together under the old act, as they are preserved by the same language, yet, for the reasons already given, the time in which to commence the action is no part of the remedy as that word is used in the proviso, and an extension of that time may be provided for in the new act without in any way affecting the right or remedy of the lienor where the facts are the same as in this case.
It may be assumed that where a statute creates a right not known to the common law, and provides a remedy for the enforcement of such right, and limits the time within which the remedy must be pursued, the remedy in such case forms a part of the right, and must be pursued within the time prescribed, or else the right and remedy are both lost; but it does not, therefore, follow that the plaintiff's right to a lien and to maintain this action must be based solely upon the act of 1888.
We must bear in mind the position of the plaintiff when the act of 1890 was passed. He had not then completed his contract and could not therefore file any statement of claim, nor could he commence any action. The particular time in which he would be allowed to commence his action (provided a sufficient time in fact were given) was, under such circumstances, mere matter of procedure as distinguished from remedy. The
We conclude that the lien of the plaintiff was valid and superior to the mortgage of the Mortgage Trust Company.
Second. We are of the opinion also that the claim of Corey Brothers & Company for a lien superior to that of the Mortgage Trust Company was properly allowed. That company claims a superiority of lien because of the clause in its mortgage by which the Bear Lake Company mortgaged to it, in addition to the property then owned by the Lake Company, all its after-acquired property.
A clause in a mortgage which subjects subsequently acquired property to the lien of the mortgage is a valid clause. Toledo, Delphos &c. Railroad v. Hamilton, 134 U.S. 296; Central Trust Co. v. Kneeland, 138 U.S. 414; Galveston Railroad v. Cowdrey, 11 Wall. 459, 481.
Such a mortgage, as against the mortgagor and subsequent incumbrancers, attaches itself to the after-acquired property as fast as it comes into existence, or as fast as the canal or railroad is built, and the lien of the mortgagee is held to be superior to that of the constructor. The lien of the mortgage extends also to an equitable as well as to a legal title to the property subsequently acquired. 134 and 138 U.S., supra.
The company claims that under the principles decided in these cases the lien of its mortgage is superior to the claim of Corey Brothers & Company.
On the contrary, the latter claim to bring their case within
Some further facts are material to this inquiry, and have been found by the court below. The work done by Corey Brothers & Company is set forth in findings 19 and 23 as made by the trial court. It consisted of work and labor and the furnishing of materials in the construction of the canal from May 1 to December 5, 1890. The canal was constructed on land over which the company had what is termed in the finding the right of way. The land is described in the nineteenth finding, and the manner in which the right of way was acquired is set forth in finding 29, which reads as follows:
"The right of way upon which the canal was constructed, which right of way is described in the finding 19, consisted largely of public land, and was obtained by the defendant, the Bear Lake and River Water Works and Irrigation Company, under and by virtue of the act of Congress of 1866, being section ____, Revised Statutes of the United States. A large portion of said right of way was obtained under contract with one Kerr, by which Kerr agreed, upon the construction of said canal through his land, to give said right of way. The other portions of said canals were purchased by the Bear Lake Company at various times from individual proprietors after May 1, 1890."
The section of the Revised Statutes above referred to is section 2339, and it is taken from the ninth section of the act of Congress, c. 262, approved July 26, 1866, 14 Stat. 253, which reads as follows:
"Whenever, by priority of possession, rights to the use of water for mining, agricultural, manufacturing or other purposes have vested and accrued and the same are recognized and acknowledged by the local customs, laws and the decisions
Congress subsequently passed another act, approved July 9, 1870, c. 235, entitled "An act to amend an act granting the right of way to ditch and canal owners over the public lands and for other purposes." 16 Stat. 217, 218.
Section 17 of that act is section 2340 of the Revised Statutes, and part of the section reads as follows:
"SEC. 17. None of the rights conferred by sections five, eight and nine of the act of which this is amendatory shall be abrogated by this act, and the same are hereby extended to all public lands affected by this act; and all patents granted or preëmption or homesteads allowed shall be subject to any vested and accrued water rights or rights to ditches and reservoirs used in connection with such water rights, as may have been acquired under or recognized by the ninth section of the act of which this act is amendatory."
The trial court made one other finding of fact, (the thirty-third,) by which it was found that the work done by Garland and by Corey Brothers & Company was done for the Bear Lake Company, which company, with the consent of the owners of the legal title, entered into possession of the land through which the canal ditches were dug, and then after so entering into possession the company consented to and permitted the plaintiff Garland and also Corey Brothers & Company to do the work under their contracts with the company in digging and excavating the canal.
The counsel for the Mortgage Company excepted to the twenty-ninth finding of the court, on the grounds, 1st, that there was no evidence upon which to base the finding; 2d, the evidence did not support the finding; 3d, there was no pleading
Upon appeal from the Supreme Court of a Territory this court is precluded under the statute from reviewing any question of fact, and the finding of the court below is conclusive upon this court as to all such questions. The jurisdiction of this court on such an appeal, apart from exceptions duly taken to rulings on the admission or rejection of evidence, is limited to determining whether the findings of fact support the judgment. Stringfellow v. Cain, 99 U.S. 610; Neslin v. Wells, 104 U.S. 428; Eilers v. Boatman, 111 U.S. 356; Idaho and Oregon Land Co. v. Bradbury, 132 U.S. 509; Mammoth Mining Co. v. Salt Lake Machine Co., 151 U.S. 447, 450.
The findings of the trial court are approved and adopted by the Supreme Court of the Territory by a general judgment of affirmance. Neslin v. Wells, supra.
We must, therefore, in the examination of the question now under consideration be confined to the facts as found by the trial court, approved as they have been by the general affirmance of the judgment by the Supreme Court of the Territory.
So far as the public land is concerned, over or through which these ditches for the canal were dug, the statutes above cited create no title, legal or equitable, in the individual or company that simply takes possession of such land. The government enacts that any one may go upon its public lands for the purpose of procuring water, digging ditches for canals, etc., and when rights have become vested and accrued which are recognized and acknowledged by the local customs, laws and decisions of courts, such rights are acknowledged and confirmed. Under this statute no right or title to the land, or to a right of way over or through it, or to the use of water from a well thereafter to be dug, vests, as against the government, in the party entering upon possession from the mere fact of such possession unaccompanied by the performance of any labor thereon.
Undoubtedly rights as against third persons are acquired
The Bear Lake Company, therefore, never had any legal or equitable title to the land over or through which the ditch for the canal was dug, as against the government, until the ditch was completed. As the ditch was completed by the labor of the contractor, and the very title of the mortgagor thereto was itself created by his labor, the lien attached to the property as it was created and came into being, and arose coincident with the ownership of the ditch by the mortgagor, and the property came into the hands of the mortgagor burdened
The material fact to remember is that the sole title to the land or the right of way, which the Bear Lake Company has, whether legal or equitable, is transferred to that company only by virtue of the work previously done upon the land by the constructors, who thereby fulfil the condition upon the performance of which such transfer or the right of such transfer depended. Under these circumstances it is proper to say that the title to the land was transferred subject to the constructors' lien for the work which made the transfer possible and by means of which it was accomplished. The claim is also urged that, even upon the theory of the appellees, the title to the portion of the land or right of way upon which Garland the plaintiff had worked had passed to the Bear Lake Company, and had come under the lien of the mortgage before any work was done by the Corey Brothers & Company firm, and as to that portion of the work the claim is made that the firm could have no lien prior to the mortgage. The fact is that at the time when the firm commenced work in May, 1890, the plaintiff Garland had not completed his work, and did not complete it until along in December following. The title had not therefore passed to the Bear Lake Company when Corey Brothers & Company commenced their work.
"All such liens shall relate back to the time of the commencement to do work or to furnish materials and shall have priority over any and every lien or incumbrance subsequently intervening, or which may have been created prior thereto, but which was not then recorded, and of which the lienor under this act had no notice. Nothing herein contained shall be construed as impairing any valid incumbrance upon any such land duly made and recorded before such work was commenced, or the first of such materials were furnished."
The very question in issue is whether the mortgage was a valid incumbrance upon any after-acquired land prior to these liens. Inasmuch as the title to the right of way did not pass until the completion of the work, we hold the mortgage was not a valid incumbrance upon such right of way until that time, and that the title came to the Bear Lake Company burdened with the lien claimed by the lienor which attached to the property at the very moment of and simultaneously with the vesting of such title in the company and in priority to the lien of the mortgage.
This principle is in entire harmony with that laid down in the already cited cases of Galveston Railroad v. Cowdrey, 11 Wall. and Toledo, Delphos &c. Railroad v. Hamilton, 134 U.S., and with the cases therein referred to. In neither of the above-mentioned cases did the title to the property come into the hands of the company burdened with any lien. Most of the property in the first above-cited case came to the company before any work was done, and a small portion only was purchased by it after the work was done, and it was held that the lien of the mortgage upon the property as after acquired was superior to that of the constructor who did the work. His work did not transfer the title or create the condition upon which the vesting of the title could take place in the mortgagor, and consequently there was no basis for the claim that the property came to the mortgagor burdened with the lien.
This case bears great similarity to that of Botsford v. New Haven, Middletown &c. Railroad, 41 Connecticut, 454, the principle of which case was approved in Toledo &c. Railroad v. Hamilton, supra. The mortgage executed by the company in the Connecticut case covered after-acquired property. After the execution of the mortgage it entered into an agreement with the owner of land by which the owner agreed to thereafter convey the land to the company upon condition that the depot of the company should be established thereon and other things done in connection therewith. The court held that the agreement amounted to a conditional sale, and that no title to the property passed to the railroad company unless and until it performed the conditions. Hence it was held that the lien acquired by the constructor of the depot, who was employed by the railroad company for that purpose, attached to the land, and that when the title subsequently came to the railroad company by reason of the performance
It is said that in any event the title which finally vested in the Bear Lake Company by virtue of the completion of the work, as claimed by the respondents, relates back to the time when possession of the land over which the right of way existed was first taken, and that such possession was taken by the Bear Lake Company prior to any work being done by either the plaintiff Garland or by the defendants Corey Brothers & Company, and the title thus became subject to the lien of the mortgage before the work was done by the lienors. This doctrine of relation, by which it is claimed that the lien of the mortgage attached to the right of way prior to the lien of the constructor, is a fiction only. It is indulged in for the purpose of thereby cutting off intervening adverse claims of third parties against the right or title set up and acquired by the first possessor. It will not be indulged in for the purpose of thereby effecting an injustice by subjecting the right of way to the prior lien of a mortgage, when the existence of the title to the right of way in the Bear Lake Company was made possible only after and by the labor of the lienors. In such case the actual fact will be considered and not the fiction.
It is also said that the mortgagee occupies a position superior in equity to that of the Corey firm because the mortgage was executed and on record a long time before the firm did any work upon the ditches, and it must have known, or at any rate notice from the record will be imputed to the firm, that the mortgage lien was in existence. The answer to this position is that under the law as above stated, the firm knew that prior to the completion of the work by it, the Bear Lake Company would have no title and the mortgage would not be a lien upon the property, and that when the work was completed the title would pass to the Bear Lake Company burdened with the lien of the firm, and such lien would be superior to that of the mortgage. To one occupying the position of these lienors, the mortgage was not in existence. Upon the same principle the mortgagee would know that it could acquire no lien on
The general principle upon which the lien of Corey Brothers & Company upon the right of way over the public lands is claimed as being prior to that of the mortgage, also applies to and covers the case of the land procured by the Bear Lake Company from Kerr, and mentioned in the foregoing twenty-ninth finding of fact. It was a conditional gift by Kerr to the company of the right of way, to take effect and be valid upon the construction of the canal through the lands of Kerr. As to the portion of the land which was obtained by purchase by the Bear Lake Company at various times from individual proprietors after May 1, 1890, the finding is too general upon which to predicate error calling for a reversal of the whole judgment. The party alleging error should clearly show it, and where it is of a kind that ought not to carry a reversal of the whole judgment because of it, he should in that case show the amount of the error and the extent to which it affected the judgment. Here the case is barren of any finding as to the extent of the purchase from private individuals and whether the purchases were made prior to the work being done or after the same had been performed. Interpreting the thirtieth finding of the court upon this subject as being one of fact, we should say the purchase was not fully accomplished nor was the title finally transferred until after the work had been done. The thirtieth finding is as follows: "All the right of way of the Bear Lake and River Company, as described in finding 19, was acquired by said Bear Lake and River Water Works and Irrigation Company after the mechanic's lien of the plaintiff William Garland and the mechanic's lien of the defendants Corey Brothers & Company attached to the same." The appellants criticise this finding as a conclusion of law. It is made by the court as one of fact, and it may be there is some matter of fact mixed with a legal conclusion. At any rate, the whole matter is left in some uncertainty as to the
They may have been made under such circumstances as to bring them directly within the principle of the case last cited. If so, the lands would be subject to a lien to the same extent as the lands otherwise acquired.
We will not in such case indulge in any presumptions unfavorable to the judgment and for the purpose of reversing it, unless they are natural and probable and such as ought to be drawn from the facts actually found by the court below. We do not find this to be the case here.
As another answer to the claim of Corey Brothers & Company, the appellants assert that if the Bear Lake Company were not the owner of the right of way over or through the public lands or lands of Kerr, or of the other individuals, until after the completion of the work, then of course it was not owner thereof at the time when the contract with Corey Brothers & Company was entered into, and in that case they would be entitled to no lien under the act of March 12, 1890.
The first section of that act provides "that whoever shall do work or furnish materials by contract, express or implied, with the owner of any land, to any amount," shall be entitled to a lien. The same section also provides that for the purposes of the act "any person having an assignable, transferable or conveyable interest or claim in or to any land, building, structure, or other property mentioned in this act, shall be deemed an owner."
We think the Bear Lake Company was such an owner as comes within the meaning of the statute of 1890, providing for a lien. Although without a legal or an equitable title until the work was done, yet the Bear Lake Company, when the work was completed, became such owner, and in the mean time and after the execution of the contract with Corey Brothers & Company and with the plaintiff Garland it occupied such a position with regard to the property as brings it within the equity of the statute for the purpose of the lien for
Our conclusion is that the whole judgment should be