« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
to see that the defendants can be properly for its collection (see Harrington v. Glidregarded as a corporation of this character. den, 179 Mass. 486, 61 N. E. 54, 94 Am. St. No public duty is imposed upon them nor Rep. 613, and cases therein cited), still we are they charged with any public trust. see no reason why the statute may not be They are authorized to make and distribute broad enough to cover a case like this. gas for their own benefit and gain only. There are obvious public reasons why it They are not bound to sell and dispose of is better that questions like this should be it to any one either for public or private settled by the assessors upon petition for use or consumption.
Nor is any
abatement, not the least potent of which power conferred upon them to take private is that the applicant for an abatement must property, not previously appropriated to a
first make to the assessors a Sworn statepublic use, for the purpose of exercising ment of his property liable to taxation. and enjoying their franchise."
Again, it is more convenient for the apThe petitioner in this case is making a plicant that the question whether he is public use of property obtained by right of
liable at all, and, if so, to what extent, eminent domain. It cannot unreasonably
should be settled in one proceeding. In refuse to furnish water to an applicant.
view of the history of the legislation we Turner v. Revere Water Co., 171 Mass. 329, can have no doubt that it was the intention 50 N. E. 634, 40 L. R. A. 657, 68 Am. St.
of the Legislature by this proceeding to Rep. 432. It is administering a public trust
make provision for the settlement of the just as the town of Milford would be ad
question of the validity of the whole or ministering the same trust, should it exer
any portion of the tax. The petition follows cise its right to purchase the property.
the language of the statute, and is broad There is no express statute subjecting land
enough to justify any action proper under so used to taxation. Under the principles
the statute. laid down in the cases hereinbefore cited,
It is further argued that by including in
its list to the assessors this land as taxable the provisions of the general tax acts do not apply. The land is therefore exempt from
property the petitioner is now estopped to taxation, and that is so even if some or
set up the claim that it is not taxable. But all of the land was acquired by purchase.
this position is untenable. Dunnell Mfg. Co.
v. Pawtucket, 7 Gray, 277; Charlestown v. It is not material whether the land be taken under statutory proceedings.
County Com'rs, 109 Mass. 270; Moors V. If it
Street Com'rs, 134 Mass. 431. could have been so taken, and by an agree
It becomes unnecessary to discuss the ment between the corporation and the land
other exceptions raised upon this record. owner these proceedings are dispensed with
Exceptions sustained. and the title is conveyed by deed to the corporation, the land so far as material to the question before us is to be regarded as
(192 Mass. 244) if taken by right of eminent domain. It
MITCHELL y. BICKFORD et al. is true that under this decision the peti- (Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. tioner is left in a more favorable position
Suffolk. June 20, 1906.) as to taxation than that in which a town QUIETING TITLE-UNDISCHARGED MORTGAGEusing land for a similar purpose is left
SCOPE OF STATUTE. under Rev. Laws, C. 12, § 10, and more
Rev. Laws, C. 182, § 15, declaring that
if the record title to land is incumbered by an favorable also than that of an aqueduct undischarged mortgage, and the mortgagor or company, incorporated under the general his successors have been in uninterrupted poslaws, which cannot take property by right
session for 20 years after the expiration of the
time limited in the mortgage for the full perof eminent domain, If this rule of law
formance of the condition thereof, and no eviaffects the public interest unfavorably the dence is offered that there has been a payment Legislature can provide a remedy.
on account of the mortgage debt, or any other It is argued by the respondent that the
recognition of its existence within the 20 years,
the mortgagor may have a decree reciting these question whether the property is exempt is facts, which, when recorded within 30 days not open upon this petition. The petition after its entry, shall prevent the enforcement of is plainly brought under Rev. Laws, C.
the mortgage, is intended to provide for the re
moval of a cloud from a record title incumbered 12, § 73. This section provides that the by an undischarged mortgage, and if the conassessors, if they find that the applicant ditions stated in the statute are shown to exist for abatement is taxed "at more than his
the mortgagor is entitled to a decree which is just proportion or upon an assessment of
an absolute bar to all claims under the mort
gage. any of his property in excess of its fair cash value," may make a reasonable abate
Exceptions from Land Court, Suffolk ment. While it is true that the language
County; C. T. Davis, Judge. of this section gives some support to tlie
Petition by one Mitchell against one Bickidea that the assessors acting under it can
ford and others. There was a decree for not wholly abate a tax, and while the per
petitioner, and respondents bring exceptions. son taxed, upon paying the tax under pro
Exceptions overruled. test, may maintain an action of contract Benj. B. Dewing, for petitioner. Hamilton to recover it back, or perhaps successfully & Eaton, Herbert R. Morse, and Albin L, defend against any proceedings brought Richards, for defendants.
KNOWLTON, C. J. This is a petition brought under Rev. Laws, c. 182, § 15. This section, originally enacted as St. 1882, p. 185, c. 237, was entitled "An act relating to the settlement of titles to real estate." As it now appears with additions and amendments in the Revised Laws, it gives one whose record title to land is incumbered by an undischarged mortgage a right to have his title perfected if certain facts appear.
If he has been in interrupted possession of the land for 20 years after the expiration of the time limited in the mortgage for the full performance of the condition thereof, and if, at a hearing upon his petition, after due notice, this fact appears, and no evidence is offered of a payment on account of the debt secured by the mortgage within 20 years after the expiration of the time limited for the performance of the condition, or of any other act within said time in recognition of its existence as a valid mortgage, he may have a decree entered reciting these facts. This decree may be recorded in the registry of deeds within 30 days after its entry, and it then becomes a bar to the maintenance of an action to enforce a title under the mortgage. At the common law, possession of mortgaged premises by the mortgagor and those claiming under him for 20 years, without recognition of the mortgage or of a debt secured by it, is presumptive proof of payment of the mortgage. In Cheever v. Perley, 11 Allen, 584, it is said that, to rebut the presumption of payment, "some positive act of unequivocal recognition, like part payment, or a written admission, or at least a clear and well identified verbal promise or admission intelligently made within the period of 20 years, is required.” See Kellogg v. Dickinson, 147 Mass. 432, 18 N. E. 223, 1 L. R. A. 346. In Brintnall v. Graves, 168 Mass. 384-387, 47 N. E. 119, the question was raised whether under this statute the court could properly enter a decree for the petitioner in any case in which it appeared that there was a valid mortgage the condition of which had not been performed. Without deciding it, the court said: "There is much force in the argument that the object of the statute is merely to provide for the re. moval of a cloud from the record title of the real estate, when it is incumbered by an undischarged mortgage which is not shown to be in force, and which has not been recognized by the mortgagor, by payment or otherwise, within 20 years after the time limited in it for the full performance of the condition thereof."
We are of opinion that the object of the statute is to provide for the removal of such a cloud, and to make 20 years' possession by the mortgagor without recognition of the mortgage, if availed of in these proceedings, an absolute statutory bar to all claims under the mortgage. If the conditions stated in the statute are shown at the hearing the decree is to be entered. The statute has
been construed liberally whenever it has been before the court. Short v. Caldwell, 155 Mass. 57, 28 N. E. 1124; Tarbell, Petr., 160 Mass. 407, 36 N. E. 55; Brintnall v. Graves, 168 Mass. 384-387, 47 N. E. 119.
In the present case the petitioner showed his record title, the incumbrance by an undischarged mortgage, and his possession for 20 years without payment upon the mortgage or recognition of it in any way. These facts bring him within the statute and entitle him to a decree.
We do not intimate that, upon the facts appearing, he would not be entitled to have his estate relieved from the mortgage under other provisions of law. But it is enough for this case that it is within the statute relied on.
(192 Mass. 231) ROCHFORD Y. ROCHFORD et al. (Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts.
Middlesex. June 20, 1906.) 1. MECHANICS LIENS - ABANDONMENT
OF CONTRACT BY CONTRACTOR-EFFECT.
A contractor, under contract for the construction of a building, who abandons the contract without any excuse, cannot maintain a petition to enforce a lien for labor performed and materials furnished.
[Ed. Note.For cases in point, see vol. 34, Cent. Dig. Mechanics' Liens, § 124.] 2. SAME - ENFORCEMENT OF LIEN - ISSUES ANSWERS OF JURY.
Where, in a suit to enforce a mechanic's lien, the parties agreed to the answer of the jury as to the amount due the petitioner for labor and materials in response to the issue, “What amount
is due the petitioner for labor performed and materials furnished ?” a decree for petitioner was warranted, as against the claim that the petitioner abandoned his contract; the answer being inconsistent with an abandonment.
Exceptions from Superior Court, Middlesex County; Henry N. Sheldon, Judge.
Petition to enforce a mechanic's lien by one Rochford against one Rochford and others. There was a decree for petitioner, and certain of the defendants except. Exceptions overruled.
David Benshimol, for petitioner. Bert E. Kemp, for defendants.
MORTON, J. This is a petition to enforce a mechanic's lien for labor and materials under an entire contract. Issues were framed for a jury and the case was then sent to an auditor. After the auditor reported the case was submitted to a jury upon the issues which had been framed. By direction of the court the jury answered the first issue in the negative which was in the petitioner's favor. No question is raised, however, as to the correctness of that ruling. The parties agreed upon the answers to all the remaining issues, except nine and ten, the last two, and the case went to the jury on those two issues both of which were answered in the negative and in favor of
the petitioner. Thereafterwards a decree 2. JURY-DEMAND FOR JURY-WAIVER. was entered in favor of the petitioner. Ex
Plaintiff duly filed a claim for a jury. An
auditor was appointed. Subsequently plainceptions were taken by taken by the respondents
tiff filed a waiver of a jury trial. Ten days Atkins and Clark which were sustained. See
thereafter, defendant filed motions for the resRochford v. Rochford, 188 Mass. 108, 74 N. toration of the case to the jury list and for E. 299, which it is agreed in the exceptions
leave to file a claim for a jury. Held that, as
the court might have been of the opinion that may be referred to and where the issues
defenılant had no intention of claiming a jury that were framed appear. The case went trial originally and that his purpose in making back to the superior court and that court the motions was to delay and obstruct plaintiff,
the motions were properly denied, and the ques"upon consideration of the findings of the
tion as to the effect of a withdrawal by plainjury, the facts as reported by the auditor
tiff of a claim to a jury trial did not arise. so far as applicable to the issues raised by 3. SAME-SUFFICIENCY OF DEMAND. the pleadings which are not technically cov Where a defendant has defaulted and the ered by the findings of the jury, neither
cause is heard only on the question of the as
sessment of damages, it is necessary for defendparty offering any other evidence,” entered
ant, if desiring the assessment to be made by a a decree establishing the lien, subject to the jury, to make a motion specifically addressed mortgage, for the amount for which it had to the assessment of damages after the default. been previously established. The respond
[Ed. Note.--For cases in point, see vol. 31,
Cent. Dig. Jury, $$ 154–173.] ents Atkins and Clark objected to the entry of the decree, and contended that the Appeal from Superior Court, Middlesex plaintiff had abandoned his contract, but County. the court ruled that on the face of the record Action by one Clark and others against a decree could be entered for the plaintiff one Baker for damages for breach of a buildand entered the above decree. The case ing contract. There was a finding for plainis here on exceptions by the respondents tiffs and defendant appeals. Judgment on Atkins and Clark to the entry of the decree. finding. The respondents contend that the contract
Wm. H. Baker and Jos. G. Wright, fo: was abandoned by the petitioner. This
appellant. E. R. Thayer, and C. Hunneman, is their only contention, If the plaintiff for appellees. willfully abandoned his contract and broke it without any excuse he is not entitled to MORTON, J. This case comes here on aprecover and cannot maintain his petition. peal by the defendant from a ruling in the General Fire Extinguisher Co. v. Chaplin, 183 superior court allowing the auditor, on moMass. 375, 67 N. E. 321. But no issue was sul) tion of the plaintiff, to take a view, after he mitted to the jury on this point and it ap had reported to the court that in his opinion pears that the parties agreed to the answers a view was necessary to a just decision of by the jury to all of the issues except the the case, and that it should be taken before first and ninth and tenth. The fifth issue the evidence was introduced, and also on was “What amount if any thing is due the appeals from rulings denying her motion that petitioner for labor performed and materi the case should be restored to the jury list als furnished on the house on said prem after it had been stricken therefrom in conises under said contract?" and the answer sequence of a waiver by the plaintiff of his was $917.46. This answer was inconsistent claim for a jury trial, and denying another with an abandonment of the contract and motion that she should be allowed to file even if the question of abandonment was a claim for a jury trial. properly raised and the auditor's report con We have no doubt of the power of the court tained evidence in relation to it, it cannot to take a view, and in a proper case to be said in view of the answer of the jury to authorize an auditor to do so. the fifth issue that the decree in favor of Generally cases are to be heard and deterthe petitioner was unwarranted, and that the mined upon the evidence submitted in open ruling of the court that on the face of the court. But where the court is of opinion record he could give the plaintiff a decree that a view will tend to a better understandwas wrong.
ing and more satisfactory disposition of the Exceptions overruled.
case, it may in its discretion authorize one to be taken. See Com. v. Chance, 174 Mass.
245, 54 N. E. 551, 75 Am. St. Rep. 306; Tully (192 Mass. 226)
v. Fitchburg R. R. Co., 134 Mass. 499, 503. CLARK et al. v. BAKER.
The case was entered in June, 1900, and (Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. the plaintiff duly filed a claim for a jury. Middlesex. June 20, 1906.)
An auditor was appointed and his report was 1. REFERENCE-AUDITOR—VIEW DISCRETION filed September 30, 1905. On October 4th, OF CHURT.
the plaintiff filed a waiver of a jury trial. Where an auditor reported to the court that in his opinion a view was necessary to a
On the 14th of November, apparently just as decision of the case, and that it should be taken the case was about to be reached for trial, before the evidence was introduced, it was with the defendant filed the two motions referred in the discretion of the court to authorize the
to above. The grounds on which the court auditor to take a view.
overruled them do not appear, and nothing [Ed. Note.For cases in point, see vol. 42, Cent. Dig. Reference, $ 93.]
is before us except what the record discloses.
It is possible that the court may have been was sufficient, if unexplained, to justify an of the opinion that the only satisfactory
inference of defendants' negligence. explanation of the defendant's conduct in not
[Ed. Note.--For cases in point, see vol. 34, claiming a jury trial when the action was
Cent. Dig. Master and Servant, § 972.7
5. SAME-FELLOW SERVANTS. entered and in delaying from October 4th,
In an action for injuries to a servant by to November 14th, to file her motions was
falling through a trapdoor in the floor of the that she had no intention of claiming a jury hall in defendants' building which was unguard-trial originally and that her purpose was to
ed, it was proved that it was the custom to bardelay and obstruct the plaintiff in the prose
ricade the opening with a ladder or settee or
otherwise, which articles were kept in a room cution of his claim. If so, the presiding jus near by. The court charged that if barriers tice was justified, in the exercise of his dis were provided, and if, from the custom to use cretion, in denying the motions, and the
barriers, defendants knew that the janitor and
his assistant were using such articles as barquestion which the defendant seeks to raise
riers, then defendants had done all that the as to the effect of a withdrawal by the party law required of them, and the assistant janitor's making it of a claim to a jury trial on which failure to use barriers on the occasion in questhe other party has relied does not arise.
tion constituted the negligence of plaintiff's
fellow servant, for which defendants were not Stevens v. McDonald, 173 Mass. 382, 53 N.
liable. Held, that such instruction was correct. E. 885, 73 Am. St. Rep. 300. Further it is 6. SAME - DANGEROUS PREMISES - CARE REto be noted that the defendant was defaulted QUIRED. and the case was heard by the court only on
If defendants had made no provision for a the question of the assessment of the dam
barricade or warning of a trapdoor located in
the hall of their building, and had no knowledge ages. If the defendant had wished to have that ladders or settees were used as barriers the damages assessed by a jury it was neces by their servants, defendants would not be resary to make a motion specifically addressed
lieved from liability for injury to a servant by
falling through such trapdoor at a time when to the assessment of damages after the de
such articles were not used. fault. Gallagher v. Silberstein, 182 Mass. 20, 64 N. E. 402. Not having done so, she has
Exceptions from Superior Court, Suffolk no just ground for complaint.
County; Lloyd E. White, Judge. Judgment on the finding.
Action by William 0. Falardeau against D. Blakeley Hoar and others. A verdict was rendered in favor of plaintiff, and defendants
bring exceptions. Overruled. (192 Mass. 263)
C. E. Washburn, for plaintiff. Edward F. FALARDEAU V. HOAR et al.
McClennen, Harrison F. Lyman, and Bran(Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. deis, Dunbar & Nutter, for defendants.
Suffolk. June 20, 1906.) 1. MASTER AND SERVANT-INJURIES TO SERV KNOWLTON, C. J. The plaintiff, while ANT – DANGEROUS PREMISES – TRAPDOOR
temporarily employed in a building held and FAILURE TO SEE. Where a servant was injured by falling
managed by the defendants as lessees, fell through a trapdoor in the floor of one of the through a trapdoor in the floor of one of the halls of defendant's building, and testified that halls, and was injured. This trapdoor was he had often passed through the hall before
set in an opening in the floor, and could be and had never noticed the trapdoor, his failure to see the same did not establish negligence on
lifted out of the opening by a ring. There his part as a matter of law.
was much contradiction between the defend[Ed. Note.-For cases in point, see vol. 34, ants' witnesses and the plaintiff in regard to Cent. Dig. Master and Servant, 88 1089–1132.]
some of the material facts in the case; but as 2. SAME-CARE OF OWNER.
the jury presumably believed the plaintiff, Where the owners of a building maintained a trapdoor in the floor of a hall, which would
we must consider the exceptions in the aspect be opened by their servants only at intervals
of the testimony which is most favorable to for the performance of particular duties, defend him. ants owed to their servants the duty to give
He testified that he had often passed warning of the use of the trap.
through this hall but never had noticed the 3. SAME-PROVISION OF BARRIERS.
Where defendants maintained a trapdoor trapdoor. We cannot say as matter of law in the floor of the hall of their building which that his failure to notice it shows a lack of was used by their servants at irregular inter due care. Johnson v. Field-Thurber Com. vals, if defendants provided barriers or other means of protection for those walking in the
pany, 171 Mass. 481, 51 N. E. 18. According hall which barriers were to be used by their
to his account of the accident, he was passing servants whenever the door was lifted, the use through the hall in the performance of his of such barriers might be intrusted to the sery
duty walking in the usual way, when he met ants in connection with their work involving the opening of the door.
King, an assistant of the janitor, and went [Ed._Note.-For cases in point, see vol. 34,
on a little further, after which he rememberCent. Dig. Master and Servant, $8 228-231.] ed nothing more until he found himself in 4. SAME-INFERENCE OF NEGLIGENCE.
the hospital. The evidence showed that King In an action for injuries to a servant by had taken out the trapdoor to put some ash falling through a trapdoor in the floor of the
cans into the cellar, leaving an opening in hall of defendants' building, evidence that at the time of the accident no barriers were used
the floor four feet square, through which and no warning given that the door was open the plaintiff fell. There was nothing there
but the opening to indicate that the floor that when the door was opened it was the was not in its usual safe condition. There custom to barricade the opening by putting was testimony from a medical expert that across it "a ladder or settee, or anything a person receiving a severe blow on the that would go across there," and that such head as the plaintiff did, ordinarily loses the articles were kept in a room near by. The recollection of everything occurring immedi judge left to the jury the question whether ately before the blow. We are of opinion that the defendants had made provisions for a it was a question for the jury whether the barricade, by an instruction in these words: plaintiff, walking there in an ordinary way "Now, this is a question for you. in the performance of his duty, was in the were barriers provided, and if from the cusexercise of due care, even though he failed tom there to use those barriers the defendto notice an opening in the floor in a hall ants in the line of their supervision knew where he had always found the floor in per that those were being used for barriers, and fect condition, and where he had reason to that Wildes (the janitor) and King were usbelieve that it was absolutely safe. Thynging them as barriers, why then, they had done v. Fitchburg Railroad Company, 156 Mass. all that the law required of them, and the 13, 30 N. E. 169, 32 Am. St. Rep. 423; Ma act would become the negligent act of a felguire v. Fitchburg Railroad Company, 146 low workman, namely, King, in the failure Mass. 379, 15 N. E. 304. If, in looking for to use those things which were provided as ward the hall seemed in its usual condition, barriers, and which the defendants, in the we cannot say as a matter of law that he line of their supervision, knew were being was bound so to scrutinize the floor as to be used for that purpose." This instruction was sure that there was no opening in it. The correct. The defendants requested a simidanger that one might step into such an open lar instruction, which omitted in its hypoing without noticing it was recognized by thetical statement the element of intention on the janitor who testified as follows: "I had the part of the owners or persons in control always put a stepladder or settee there as a of the building that the articles which were protection when I opened the trapdoor. I did suitable for making a barricade should be not give King any instructions to do this on used for that purpose, and the element of the morning of the accident, and I did not knowledge that they were so used, and they look to see whether it had been done, be excepted to the refusal to give the instruction, cause he had always put something there, and to the instruction given So far as it and of course I supposed he knew enough to included knowledge on the part of the owners do it that time."
as a requisite. The defendants contend that there was no This exception must be overruled. If the evidence of negligence on their part. It was defendants had made no provision for a bartheir duty, in a general way, to have the ricade or warning, and had no knowledge building in a safe condition for those who were that ladders or settees were used as barriers, working in it. An opening in the floor of a and these things were sometimes so used hall rendered it unsafe for those who had without their knowledge, they would not be occasion to pass through the hall without relieved from liability for an accident at a knowledge of the opening. Such an opening time when they were not used, and when was in the nature of a trap for those who they had made no provision for erecting a were ignorant of it, and it was the duty of barrier or giving a warning. the defendants to give warning of it. This The jury must have found that the defendopening would be made only at intervals by ants made no proper provision for giving the defendants' servants for the performance warning. of particular duties. If the defendants pro Some evidence that the testimony of Wildes vided proper barriers or other means of pro and King should not be given the effect imtection for these walking there, which were to puted to it by the defendants is found in the be used by their servants whenever the door fact that the defendants, while seemingly was lifted up, the use of these barriers might stating in their answers to interrogatories the be intrusted to servants in connection with facts relied upon by them as a defense, did their work which involved the opening of the not refer to any provision of this kind. trapdoor. Moynihan v. Hills Company, 146 Exceptions overruled. Mass. 586, 16 N. E. 574, 4 Am. St. Rep. 348. At the time of this accident no barriers were
(192 Mass. 241) used and no warning was given. From these facts, unexplained, the jury might infer neg
MCMAHON V. MILLER et al. ligence on the part of the defendants. Grif (Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. fin v. Boston and Albany Railroad Company,
Norfolk. June 20, 1906.) 148 Mass. 143, 19 N. E. 166, 1 L. R. A. 698,
1. EXECUTORS AND ADMINISTRATORS—CLAIMS
-PROSECUTION-TIME-EQUITABLE RELIEF. 12 Am. St. Rep. 526; Savage v. Marlborough
Rev. Laws, C. 141, § 9, requires actions Street Railway Company, 186 Mass. 203, 71 against executors to be brought within two N. E. 531; Feital v. Middlesex Railroad, 109 years from their qualification, and section 10 Mass. 398, 12 Am. Rep. 720. By way of ex
authorizes relief by the Supreme Judicial Court
on a bill filed by a creditor whose claim was not planation the defendants offered evidence prosecuted within such time, if justice and