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SPRINGER LAND ASSOCIATION v. FORD.

decided: December 13, 1897.

SPRINGER LAND ASSOCIATION
v.
FORD.



APPEAL FROM THE SUPREME COURT OF THE TERRITORY OF NEW MEXICO.

Author: Fuller

[ 168 U.S. Page 524]

 MR. CHIEF JUSTICE FULLER, after stating the case, delivered the opinion of the court. Although mechanics' liens are the creation of statute, the legislation being remedial should be so construed as to effectuate its object. Davis v. Alvord, 94 U.S. 545; Mining Co. v. Cullins, 104 U.S. 176.

Substantial compliance, in good faith, with the requirements of the particular law is sufficient, and the test of such compliance is to be found in the statute itself.

These enactments vary in the different States and Teritories, and to the variance in their terms, judicial decisions necessarily conform.

Section 1524 of the Compiled Laws of New Mexico required the contractor, in order to obtain the benefit of the act, to file for record "a claim containing a statement of his demands, after deducting all just credit and offset, with the name of the owner of reputed owner, if known, and also the name of the person by whom he was employed, or to whom he furnished the materials."

The claim duly filed by Ford was preceded by a title describing the Springer Land Association and others and the Maxwell Land Grant Company and others, as "owners or reputed owners;" and stated a demand for the sum of $17,634.27, as "the balance due and owning to the said Patrick P. Ford, by the aforesaid owners, or reputed owners, after deducting all just credits and offsets for excavating and embankments done and performed by him under a certain contract entered into by the said Springer Land Association, a copy of which contract is hereto annexed and made a part of this claim of lien. As also for the further sum of three hundred and ninety dollars ($390) for excavating and hauling, ordered by the engineer in charge of said ditch, and allowed by him in pursuance of the provisions of said contract;" and

[ 168 U.S. Page 525]

     it stated when the work was commenced and when it was finished, and that on the last date it was "completed and accepted." It gave the names of the reputed owners of the land as the Maxwell Land Grant Company and others, enumerating them, trustees of that company; and alleged that claimant "was employed to do the said work by the Springer Land Association, C.N. Barnes, general manager, approved by C.C. Strawn as president." And it added that "the terms, time given and conditions of said contract are those that fully appear in the copy of the said contract which is attached hereto and made a part hereof."

We entirely agree with the Supreme Court of the Territory that this claim of lien was sufficient under the statute in respect of all these particulars. It is attacked by counsel for appellants because containing "no statement of the amount of work done; nor of the payments made; nor the estimate or acceptance by the engineer;" and also because "erroneous as to the party from whom due." But this statute did not require, as many such statutes do, "a just and true account," or "a full and true account" of the details of the transaction, and this work was done under a special contract, at so much per cubic yard, to be paid for on engineer's certificates. In our judgment Ford's statement of his demands, with the copy of the contract and specifications annexed, was in reasonable and adequate compliance with the statute.

As to the name of the person by whom Ford was employed, the claim was specific; and the names of the owners or reputed owners of the lands, and their connection with the transaction, were also given with sufficient clearness. With reference to similar statutory provisions, the Supreme Court of California in Davies Henderson Lumber Co v. Gottschalk, 81 California, 641, 646, said: "There is nothing in the section, or any other, that requires the material-man to state in his claim of lien what relation the person to whom he furnished the material bore to the owner, whether contractor or agent; nor does the burden of determining whether any contract made, or attempted to be made, between the owner and contractor, was valid or not, rest on him when the comes to file

[ 168 U.S. Page 526]

     his lien. He must state the facts required by the statute. Whether the person to whom he furnished the material had authority to bind the owner, and entitle the material-man to a lien, is a matter of pleading and proof at the trial." And in Jewell v. McKay, 82 California, 144, it was held that it was not even necessary that the notice of lien should state that the owner of the land had knowledge of the work.

By section 1520 of this statute a lien is given for work or labor done at the instance of the owner of the improvement "or his agent;" by section 1529 it is provided that every improvement "constructed upon any lands with the knowledge of the owner or the person having or claiming any interest therein, shall be held to have been constructed at the instance os such owner or person having or claiming any interest therein," unless he shall give notice that he will not be responsible for the same; and by section 1522, the land upon which any improvement is constructed, "together with a convenient ...


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