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DISTRICT COLUMBIA v. MCBLAIR.

decided: January 23, 1888.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
v.
MCBLAIR.



APPEAL FROM THE SUPREME COURT OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.

Author: Matthews

[ 124 U.S. Page 330]

 MR. JUSTICE MATTHEWS, after stating the case, delivered the opinion of the court.

An objection is taken by counsel for the appellees to the consideration of the merits of the present appeal, on the ground that the matter involved therein had been previously and finally adjudged against the District of Columbia by the decree of the general term of February 4, 1876, reversing the decree of the special term directing a conveyance of the title of the premises in controversy to the appellant. It is alleged that this decree was final against the District of Columbia upon the right claimed in its petition, from which no appeal having been taken, it has thereby become conclusive. The point, however, is not well taken. The decree in question reversed the decree of the special term of August 7, 1875, and remanded the cause to the special term to be further proceeded with as the parties might be advised. It did not direct a dismissal of the petition of the District of Columbia, and was, therefore, not a final adjudication upon its right to some relief in accordance with the prayer of the petition.

Proceeding to consider the appeal upon its merits, we find that it involves but a single question, to wit, whether, because the District of Columbia has not fully paid the consideration for the conveyance made by McBlair and wife of the title to the premises in controversy, it has lost all right to obtain from the trustee, by order of the court, a conveyance of the title. The auditor, to whom the matter had been referred, reported that the market-stock bonds delivered by the District of Columbia to McBlair as the consideration for his deed produced only $22,700. It seems to be assumed in this report and elsewhere throughout the case that the cash proceeds of these bonds were applied by McBlair to the repair and improvement of the buildings upon the remaining lots, to the benefit of the estate and the beneficiaries under the will, in the same manner and to the

[ 124 U.S. Page 331]

     same extent as if those proceeds had gone into the hands of the trustee and been directly applied by him according to the order of the court. This certainly constitutes an equity in favor of the appellant to the extent of these payments, entitling it to have them credited upon McBlair's notes in the hands of the trustee, in satisfaction of that much of the original amount due on account of the sale. The appellant also has a further equity, on payment to the trustee of the additional amount necessary to make good the whole amount of the agreed price of the property sold, to have the McBlair notes cancelled and a conveyance of the title by the trustee, discharged of all lien, on account of unpaid purchase money. This amount is the difference between $24,521.50, for which the property was sold to McBlair, and $22,700, the amount of cash actually received from the proceeds of the bonds, being $1821.50, with interest thereon from the time of the sale to McBlair. It is, indeed, contended on the part of the District of Columbia that the consideration agreed upon between it and McBlair has been fully satisfied by the delivery of the bonds, the guaranty that they should produce ninety-seven cents on the dollar being denied as a matter of fact. The auditor, however, has reported otherwise upon the fact, and the record does not furnish us with a means of testing the accuracy of his conclusion. We are of opinion, however, independently of that controversy, that the District of Columbia cannot avail itself of any agreement with McBlair to accept bonds instead of cash. Its obligation as the assignee of his bid is to pay his notes in full in money according to their tenor, and it is, therefore, bound to make good the difference between what McBlair actually received from it in money and the amount called for by his notes. Any resale of the property ordered by the court should be only in case of a default on the part of the appellant in making this additional payment within some reasonable time to be fixed by the court. The decree ordering a resale, without regard to the previous payments, and the right to make such additional payments as should be ascertained to be due and required to be paid, was therefore erroneous.

Counsel for the appellees contend in argument that the

[ 124 U.S. Page 332]

     application of the proceeds of the sale to repair and improve the buildings upon the unsold portions of the real estate, was not a legitimate investment of such proceeds within the purview of the third section of the act of Congress of August 18, 1856, which requires that the proceeds of such sale shall be held under the control and subject to the order of the court, and invested under its order and supervision upon real and personal security or in government securities. But that question was finally passed upon by the court below in the decree of May 10, 1869, directing the sale for the purpose prayed for. This decree, it is true, directs that the proceeds of the sale be brought into court to abide its future order, but the actual application of the proceeds of sale to the improvement of the other property was distinctly brought to the notice of the court by the petition of the District of Columbia, and was assumed as rightful throughout the whole history of the case, without objection from any of the parties in interest. It would be grossly inequitable to permit the appellees, at this stage of the cause, to insist upon the objection. The discretion to make such an investment of the proceeds of the sale is conferred upon the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia by the act of Congress authorizing the sale. The District of Columbia, as purchaser from McBlair, of course had full notice that the purchase money was unpaid, and was bound as purchaser to see to the application of its won payments; but as no question has been made upon the fact that the money paid by it has gone to benefit and improve the estate of the appellees in the manner and to the extent contemplated by the court in ordering the sale of the unimproved lots, the appellant has a right, upon payment of the additional amount due from McBlair on account of the sale, to have a conveyance, under the order of the court, by the trustee.

The decree of the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia appealed from is, therefore, reversed, and the cause remanded, with directions to ascertain the amount still due from McBlair on his notes, given on account of his purchase, after crediting thereon the amount realized by him from the sale of the market-stock bonds; and, on payment

[ 124 U.S. Page 333]

     of the amount thereof by the appellant, to decree a conveyance of the title of the parties to this cause by the trustee to the District of Columbia; and in default of such payment, within a reasonable time to be fixed therefor, to ...


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