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HUSSEY V. UNITED STATES, 222 U. S. 88 (1911)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Hussey v. United States, 222 U.S. 88 (1911)

Hussey v. United States

No. 32

Argued November 2, 1911

Decided November 20, 1911

222 U.S. 88


One claiming an interest in property and having knowledge of such claim is charged to consider at the time it is sold by trustees whether he will assert his title or retain a share of the proceeds; both vendor and vendee are entitled to timely disavowal in order to protect and indemnify themselves; acceptance of proceeds and failure to disavow may, as held in this case, amount to ratification.

Even if the state court has decided that the widow of a deceased partner had a community interest in his share of real estate belonging to the partnership, if she does not promptly disavow a sale of the entire property made by surviving partners, but accepts part of the proceeds and makes no attempt for many years to assert title, she is guilty of laches, and neither she nor her grantees can recover.

Where the reference to the Court of Claims, as in this case, is not to determine whether the grantor of a claimant of a part interest in real estate purchased by the United States had a valid title at the time the United States took possession, but whether the claimant has acquired a valid title to the property, with provision that the United States may plead any defense, the conduct of claimant's grantor is to be considered, and if such grantor was guilty, as in this case, of gross laches, claimant cannot recover.

The facts, which involve the validity of a claim of title to property in California purchased and occupied by the United States, are stated in the opinion.

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