Telluride Power Transmission Company v. Rio Grande Western Railway Company (187 U.S. 569)/Opinion of the Court
|Telluride Power Transmission Company v. Rio Grande Western Railway Company (187 U.S. 569) by
Opinion of the Court
United States Supreme Court
TELLURIDE POWER TRANSMISSION COMPANY v. RIO GRANDE WESTERN RAILWAY COMPANY
Argued: November 10, 1902. --- Decided: January 5, 1903
The defendant in error has moved to dismiss the case for want of jurisdiction in this court. The essential issues of fact were decided against the plaintiffs in error,
'2. Said Barrett stated to said Tyler & brought within the ruling in Telluride Power Transmission Co. v. Rio Grande Western R. Co. 175 U.S. 639, 44 L. ed. 305, 20 Sup. Ct. Rep. 245. The corporations in this case were parties in that case, and so were Nunn and Holbrook. The same public interests were in opposition, and the power company relied for rights in Provo ca non on § 2339 of the Revised Statutes of the United States [U.S.C.omp. Stat. 1901, p. 1437], as the company does in this case, and the rulings on those interests and rights constituted the vital questions in that case as they do in this. It was pointed out there that, 'in order to establish any rights
'3. This condition was accepted by said the defendants to prove their priority of possession, or at least to disprove priority on the part of the plaintiff.' And it was
'4. A short time thereafter, to wit, on this priority of possession was not a Federal question, but a pure question of fact, upon which the decision of the state court was conclusive. No construction was put upon the statute; no question arose under it; but a preliminary question was to be decided before the statute became material, and that was whether defendants were first in possession of the land. Even if priority of possession had been shown, it would still have been necessary to prove that defendants' right to the use of the water was recognized and acknowledged by the local customs, laws, and decisions, all of which were questions of state law.'
After discussion it was also observed: 'But the difficulty in this case is that, before it could be said that any right or title under a statute of the United States had been denied, it was necessary to establish as a question of fact priority of possession on the part of the Telluride Company, as
'5. The said Barrett sent three times to and decisions. These were local, and not Federal, questions. The jurisdiction of this court in this class of cases does not extend to questions of fact or of local law, which are merely preliminary to or the possible basis of, a Federal question.'
'6. Said Barrett was taken sick and did no rights under § 2339 [U.S.C.omp. Stat. 1901, p. 1437], none could be taken from them. But a violation of the 14[[|[[|th Amendment]]]] of the Constitution of the United States is claimed by both the power company and by Nunn, and the latter claims,
'7. On the 1st day of May ensuing the which he was entitled as a citizen of the United States.
The deprivation of the rights of the plaintiffs in error under the 14[[|[[|th Amendment]]]] was accomplished, it is said, by the court's assuming to try without the assistance of
'8. The existence of the two policies was those rights depended. In other words, that the district court assumed to determine, and did determine, all conflicting or adverse claims to the property, and submitted only to the jury the questions of compensation and damages. This action, it is asserted, was contrary to the meaning of the statute of the state, or, if not so, the statute is void.
With the latter objection we only are concerned, and it is enough to say in answer to it that the invalidity of the statute was
'9. The two policies had been overlooked as a ground of error on the appeal taken to the supreme court of the state. It appears for the first time in the petition for the writ of error from this court. Nor did the supreme court of the state pass upon the action of the district court in view of its unconstitutionality. Indeed, it found it unnecessary to pass upon that action except in the most general way. The court said:
'10. Tyler & Rutherford had found great the refusal of the court to instruct the jury as requested, upon the instructions given to the jury, and upon the facts found by the court. Under the view taken these questions become unimportant, as neither of the appellants were injured in their rights; nor were either entitled to any damages under the facts shown in this case. The instructions were, at least, as favorable to the appellants as they had a right to expect.'
It is further urged that the decision of the supreme court deprived plaintiffs in error of their rights under the Constitution of the United States, and under § 2339 of the Revised Statutes [U.S.C.omp. Stat. 1901, p. 1437], in holding, as it is claimed, that neither the power company nor Nunn had any authority or right to locate and appropriate public land of the United States upon the Provo river for the purpose of maintaining a dam to store water with which to generate power to create electricity.
'11. On the 16th of May, 1895, a clerk of the parties, 16 Utah, 125, 51 Pac. 146; 175 U.S. 639, 44 L. ed. 305, 20 Sup. Ct. Rep. 245, not, however, as conclusive, but 'as authority and as determining the law in this case, in so far as it decided the same questions involved in the present case,' and the court stated that it had been decided in that case, among other things, 'that the defendants (plaintiffs in error here) had not appropriated the land in dispute, and that neither of the defendants was in actual possession of the land when the plaintiff located his right of way, took possession, and engaged in grading it.'
Then passing upon the rights of the power company and Nunn, the court said:
'The record shows that the San Miguel
'12. On the morning of May 17, after the February 7, 1891, with a capital of $15,000,000, and was authorized to acquire by purchase, lease, or otherwise, mining property, together with water rights, power, ways, mills, and mill sites; to develop, mine work, and utilize the same, and to carry on a general mining business. Its principal office is in Telluride, Colorado, and its principal business is to be done in Colorado, and its articles provide that part of its business may be done in Boston, Mass., and its principal office kept there. The stock is non-assessable, and no requirements for payments of subscription are incorporated in it. In February, 1896, an amendment of its articles was made and filed with the secretary of state in Colorado changing the name of the company to the Telluride Power Transmission Company. Appellant Nunn was its
'Of this request and answer by the telephone
'Section 427, p. 614, 1 Colo. Stat. 1893, among other matters, provides that, 'when said corporation shall be created under the laws of this state for the purpose of carrying on part of its business beyond the limits thereof, such certificate shall state that fact.' Subdivision 2 of this section provides that the object for which the company is created shall be stated. Section 498 authorizes Colorado corporations authorized to do business out of the state to accept the laws of the other states, and there exercise its franchise.
'So it appears that the appellant company is a mining corporation organized in Colorado, without complying with the statute, and with no other powers to do business as such in this state. Without complying with the Constitution and laws of this state with respect to foreign corporations, it unlawfully assumes to appropriate both land
The policies, which are alike, contained so, because under § 2, art. 12, of the Constitution
No. 20,229. $1,000.
By this policy of insurance the Hartford without filing with the secretary of state an acceptance of the provisions of the Constitution; and under § 6, no corporation organized out of the state shall be allowed to transact business in this state on conditions more favorable than those prescribed by law for similar corporations organized under the laws of the state.
'Under § 9, no corporation is allowed to do business in this state without having one or more places of business therein, with an agent upon whom process may be served, nor without first filing a certified copy of its articles of incorporation with the secretary of state. Section 10 provides that no corporation shall engage in any business other than that expressly authorized in its charter or articles of incorporation.
'Section 2293, Utah Comp. Laws 1888, as amended in 1896, and §§ 351 and 352, Rev. Stat. 1898, expressly embody these provisions of the Constitution, and prohibit foreign corporations from doing business in this state, unless they have complied with these requirements of the law; and any corporation failing to so comply with the provisions of the law is not entitled to the benefits of the law of this state relating to corporations.
'The appellant corporation did not comply
Thos. F. Barrett, Agent. power to engage in its business of mining,
This policy shall be canceled at any time laws of this state. A corporation of Colorado coming into this state cannot bring with it powers with which it is not endowed in Colorado. It can only have an existence under the express laws of the state where it is created, and can exercise no power which is not granted by its charter or some legislative act. The appellant corporation never filed with the secretary of state of the state of Utah a copy of its articles of incorporation, by either name under which it was in corporated, and never accepted the laws or
This policy is made and accepted subject any agent or fixed any place of business within the state as required by law. The defendant corporation, therefore, is not entitled to the benefit of the laws of this state, with reference to corporations. State v. Southern P. Co. 52 La. Ann. 1822, 28 So. 372; Oregon R. & Nav. Co. v. Oregonian R. Co. 130 U.S. 1, 32 L. ed. 837, 9 Sup. Ct. Rep. 409; George R. Barse Live Stock Co. v. Range Valley Cattle Co. 16 Utah, 59, 50 Pac. 630.
'Under § 2339, Rev. Stat. [U.S.C.omp. Stat. 1901, p. 1437], even if priority of possession of the property in question was shown in the defendant corporation, still its right to locate and use the water or land is not recognized or acknowledged by the laws of this state, and it was not in a position to
In witness whereof, this company has executed premises.
'5. Appellant Nunn was a resident of
This policy shall not be valid until countersigned of the business of the defendant corporation, both in Colorado and Utah. The chief
Geo. L. Chase, President.
P. C. Royce, Secretary.
Chas. E. Chase,
2d Ass't Secretary.
Thos. F. Barrett, Agent. actually made, and no dam was constructed
Upon these facts, judgment was, on December board of the defendant corporation was the controlling authority for and with whom Nunn acted. If Nunn had any right, it was with reference to the smaller power located below. The dam at Hanging Rock was to be a larger power, and was talked about in the project, but it was not constructed, and the ownership, if in anyone, was in the defendant company, which was incapable of acquiring such ownership.
'While the testimony is very uncertain, it sufficiently appears that whatever was done by Nunn in the appropriation of water was done for the use and benefit of the defcndant company, and he cannot be treated as a personal claimant and owner of the easement and right of way in controversy as against the right of way acquired by respondent.'
From this excerpt it appears that the supreme court construed the statutes and Constitution of Utah, deciding that the power company had no existence as a corporation in the state, and could acquire, therefore, no rights as such, and 'was not in a position to question the right of the plaintiff [defendant in error] in the premises.' And no independent right was found in Nunn. What was done by him the court said was done 'for the use and benefit of the defendant company.' And it was decided that he was not 'a personal claimant and owner of the easement and right of way in controversy as against the right of way acquired by respondent [plaintiff in error].' These conclusions did not involve the decision of Federal questions. The first expressed the meaning and effect of local statutes. The second depended upon a finding of fact. Neither, therefore, is reviewable by us.
The whole controversy was and is as to the right to occupy Provo ca non, the defendant in error claiming that right for a railroad, the plaintiffs in error claiming that right for a reservoir site, and this latter right plaintiffs in error claimed and claims under § 2339 of the Revised Statutes of the United States [U.S.C.omp. Stat. 1901, p. 1437]. That section was and is their reliance. They say in their brief that they 'do not claim to hold the land in controversy 'under the alleged contract with Ferguson.
'They claim to have obtained title to it under § 2339 of the Revised Statutes of the United States by entering upon it and appropriating it as a reservoir site, and this contract (the contract with Ferguson) only amounted to a waiver of Ferguson's rights as a squatter in favor of plaintiffs in error.'
But their rights under that section depended upon questions of fact and questions of local law. The questions of fact were found against plaintiff in error, and the questions of local law we cannot review.
A Federal question is asserted because of the ruling of the district court refusing to remove the case to the United States circuit court upon the petition of plaintiffs in error. But upon the denial of the application to remove they filed the record in the circuit court of the United States, and that court remanded the cause, and a copy of its order was filed in the district court before the commencement of the trial. In substantially similar circumstances we held in Missouri P. R. Co. v. Fitzgerald, 160 U.S. 556, 40 L. ed. 536, 16 Sup. Ct. Rep. 389, that if error there had been in the ruling of the state court it became wholly immaterial.
Writ of error dismissed.
|This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).|