United States v. Hickey/Opinion of the Court
By not appealing, the claimant has declared himself to be content with the disposition of the case by the Court of Claims. The appeal brings up only the claim allowed. The rejected items, therefore, will receive no consideration, except so far as may be necessary for a proper understanding of the item allowed.
It is said that the transaction with Hickey was an assignment to him by the United States, and not an underletting. It was not an assignment, as the terms between the United States and Hickey were different from those between Eldredge and the United States. The United States agreed to pay $6000 per month, and had a privilege of an appraisement at their option. Hickey agreed to pay $500 per month only for the first two months, was to have in substance a deduction of $250 for every month thereafter by the United States, and no rent after May 1st was fixed unless an appraisal should be made. [*] It is difficult, however, to see the importance of the difference in this proceeding, whether it was an assignment or subletting. The short answer to the counter-claim is that the United States had assigned to Eldredge all their claim and demand for the rent upon this lease, and therefore could have no claim against Hickey by virtue of it. The rent was paid by Hickey to May 1st, 1856. After that time he refused to pay rent, on the ground that there was no appraisal fixing the amount. No appraisal has ever been made. No evidence was given before the Court of Claims of the rental value of the premises, and I see not how more than nominal value could in any event be claimed. But beyond this, the United States, on the 13th of April, 1857, transferred and assigned to Eldredge all their right, title, and interest in and to the lease, and authorized him to sue for and recover the rents reserved to the United States as fully as they could do. It was added, 'it being distinctly understood that it is the object and purpose of this agreement to put the said Eldredge in the place and stead of the United States, so far as concerns the rights of the United States under the lease aforesaid.' It was by virtue of the ownership of the lease acquired under this assignment that Eldredge took proceedings in the California courts, which resulted in the eviction and dispossession of Hickey from the premises described in the lease. This assignment, in the terms stated, carried all the interest in the rents already accrued as well as rents thereafter to accrue. It was broad and comprehensive, carrying every interest in or connected with or arising out of the lease. There was no claim or demand against Hickey existing in the United States under this lease, and consequently there was no counter-claim to be interposed against his demand for storage allowed by the judgment appealed from. The decision of the Court of Claims was right and must be