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U.S. Supreme Court

San Jose Land & Water Co. v. San Jose Ranch Co., 189 U.S. 177 (1903)

San Jose Land and Water Company v. San Jose Ranch Company

No. 113

Submitted December 2, 1902

Decided March 2, 1903

189 U.S. 177


Although no federal right, title or immunity was specially set up or claimed in the complaint, it is sufficient if it appears in the motion for new trial and in the assignment of error in the state supreme court. In this case, it also appears from the opinion of the court that the question was whether the plaintiff in error had brought itself within the scope of an act of Congress upon which it relied.

Under the rule of this Court requiring opinions to be sent up with the record, it is a sufficient compliance with the words "specially set up and claimed" that the federal question was fully considered in the opinion of the court and ruled against the plaintiff in error.

A party who, on complying with the provisions of an act of Congress would have the right to purchase lands, part of the public domain, but who has not complied with the requirements of the act, is not entitled, upon the mere showing of such right to purchase, to demand that its title be adjudged good and valid and that another party who is in possession be adjudged to have no estate or interest in the land, or that such other person be enjoined from asserting any adverse claim, or that the claimant recover the possession of the land with the right of ousting the defendant from the improvements made thereon by its predecessors. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 189 U. S. 178

This was an action brought in 1889 by the Land & Water Company, under the Code of Civil Procedure of California, to quiet the title of the plaintiff and determine the nature of the adverse claim of the defendant to the half of a quarter section of land which had been sold by the Southern Pacific Railroad Company February 28, 1887, to plaintiff's predecessors in title, as part of its land grant of 1871.

The case was tried in 1890, though the decree was not entered until 1897. The facts found by the court were substantially that the Southern Pacific Railroad Company had accepted the benefit of a land grant made March 3, 1871, to the Texas and Pacific railroad, filed its map of location April 3, 1871, and on August 12, 1873, formed a new corporation, also known as the Southern Pacific Railroad Company; built and constructed a road from Tehachapi Pass by way of Los Angeles to Yuma, and selected the land in question under the Act of March 3, 1871; that such land was within the place limits of the Southern Pacific, and also within the indemnity limits of a land grant to the Atlantic and Pacific railroad by Act of July 27, 1866. This latter company never complied with the terms of the grant, and never built its road.

That, on February 28, 1887, the Southern Pacific agreed with two parties named Nolan and Heckenlively to sell them this land, and, after the receipt from the United States of a patent therefor, to deliver them a deed; that, by subsequent conveyances, and on August 29, 1888, the right of the grantees became vested in the plaintiff, the San Jose Land & Water Company; that the land is situated in San Dimas Canyon, through a portion of which the San Dimas Creek flows; that, prior to December, 1883, one Stowell claimed to own a water right in the waters flowing down such creek, the character and extent of which the court did not adjudicate, and about that time entered upon the land and constructed across a portion of it a twelve-inch pipeline for the purpose of conducting the water so claimed by him from its point of diversion across said lands to other lands; that, prior to July, 1887, the San Jose Ranch Company, defendant, had, by mesne conveyances, succeeded to the rights of Stowell, and also constructed upon such land at a point where chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 189 U. S. 179

the waters of San Dimas Creek flowed, a brick and cement forebay, sand box, of dam, and laid therefrom across a portion of said land a fourteen-inch pipeline, both of which pipelines it claims the right to maintain, but makes no other claim of right to such lands.

Upon this state of facts, the superior court entered a judgment in favor of the defendant, which was affirmed by the supreme court. 129 Cal. 673. Whereupon the plaintiff sued out this writ of error.

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