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U.S. Supreme Court

Rader's Administrator v. Maddox, 150 U.S. 128 (1893)

Rader's Administrator v. Maddox

No. 54

Argued October 25-26, 1893

Decided November 6, 1893

150 U.S. 128


A number of horses mortgaged to secure the payment of a promissory note of their owner given to the mortgagee were, under the provisions of a statute of Montana relating to chattel mortgages, sold by a sheriff on the maturity of the note without payment. With the assent of the attorney of the mortgagee, who was present at the sale, the purchaser paid a part of the purchase price in cash, and left the horses with the sheriff as security for payment of the remainder in five days. On the expiration of that time, he failed to pay the balance. The attorney refused to receive the sum paid in cash and the horses as security for the remainder, but the principal received the amount paid in cash, and sued the sheriff and his bondsmen to recover the remainder. Held that he could not repudiate the transaction in part and ratify it in part, and that, having ratified it in part by the receipt of the sum paid in cash, he could not maintain this action.

This case comes from the Supreme Court of the Territory of Montana, and presents the following facts: William Rader, one of the defendants in the case as commenced in the district court of that territory, was Sheriff of Meagher County, Montana, and the other defendants were his bondsmen. Maddox and Gaddis were the owners, respectively, of two notes, given by P. D. Kinyon, and secured by a chattel mortgage on some four hundred horses. At that time there was in force in Montana the following statutory provision:

"It shall be lawful for the mortgagor of goods, chattels, or personal property to insert in his mortgage a clause authorizing the sheriff of the county in which such property or any part thereof may be, to execute the power of sale therein granted to the mortgagee, his legal representatives and assigns, in which case the sheriff of such county at the time of such sale, may advertise and sell the mortgaged property in the manner prescribed in such mortgage. Compiled Statutes of Montana § 1550. "

Page 150 U. S. 129

This mortgage contained the clause referred to in the statute. On the maturity of these notes, and on the 9th day of August, 1887, one N. B. Smith, an attorney at law, as attorney for Maddox, placed in the hands of Sheriff Rader this mortgage, endorsed as follows:

"You are hereby authorized to execute the power of sale contained in certain chattel mortgage, of which the within is a true copy."

"Fletcher Maddox & William Gaddis"

"By N. B. Smith, Their Agent and Attorney"

Rader collected the horses and advertised them for sale. At the day of the sale, a party by the name of A. B. Kier was a bidder, and after some horses had been knocked down to him, Rader -- no money having been paid -- refused to receive any further bids. Thereupon Kier represented that he had in the bank $1,752; agreed to turn that money over to the sheriff, and leave with him all horses that should be knocked down to him; and, further, that if in five days he should not complete the payment, both money and horses should be forfeited. Neither Maddox nor Gaddis were present, but Smith, their attorney, was. The matter was referred to Smith, and he directed the sheriff to continue the sale, and receive the bids of Kier. Horses to the amount of $8,096.50 were struck off to Kier. The $1,752 was deposited with the sheriff, and the horses were left with him. Kier failed to complete his purchase by the payment of the balance of the money. After the five days had expired, the sheriff tendered the $1,752 and horses to Smith, for Maddox and Gaddis, but Smith declined to receive either. Thereafter Maddox and Gaddis took the money, but declined to receive the horses. The sheriff received no other instructions, and, after holding the horses for about a month, turned them over to his bondsmen, and Maddox and Gaddis, one as plaintiff and the other as intervener, brought this suit to recover the difference between $1,752 and $8,096.50. They obtained judgment in the district court, which judgment was affirmed by the supreme court. Maddox v. Rader, 9 chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 150 U. S. 130

Mont. 126. From that judgment the sheriff and his sureties have brought the case here by both writ of error and appeal.

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