U.S. Supreme Court Skidmore v. Pittsburg, C. & St.L. Ry. Co., 112 U.S. 33 (1884)
Skidmore v. Pittsburg, Cincinnati and St. Louis Railway Company
Submitted October 17, 1884
Decided October 27, 1884
112 U.S. 33
I N ERROR TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE UNITED
STATES FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
The legal title to real estate acquired subsequent to the lease by a lessor owning the equitable title at the date of the lease, inures to the benefit of the lessee as against a judgment creditor of the lessor whose judgment is subsequent to the lease.
This was an action of ejectment, and the material facts found by the court below, on which the case comes here for decision, are as follows:
In the spring of 1868, the Columbus, Chicago & Indiana Central Railroad Company purchased the premises in dispute upon time contracts, by which the purchase money was to be fully paid within four years, and a conveyance made when the payments were completed. Immediately on making the purchase, the company went into possession of the premises, "and erected thereon its engine houses and certain shops, structures, and side tracks necessary for the operation of its railroad." On the 1st of February, 1869, the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati & St. Louis Railway Company
"became the lessee of the railway and property of the C., C. & I.C. Ry. Co. for the term of ninety-nine years, and immediately thereafter entered into the possession of said railroad, and all its lands and property, including the property in controversy."
The lease was recorded in Cook County, Illinois, where the premises are situated, on the 21st of July, 1873. It does not purport to convey after-acquired property, but the premises in question are, and since the lease was made have been, occupied and used by the lessee for railway purposes, "the same as though they were included in the lease."
On the 2d of February, 1872, the purchase money having been paid in full according to the terms of the contract, a deed was executed conveying the premises to the Columbus, Chicago & Indiana Central Company in fee simple. On the 19th of
April, 1873, William B. Skidmore, since deceased, recovered a judgment against the last-named company in the Cook County Circuit Court. Execution issued on this judgment was levied on the premises on the tenth of June, 1873. Under this execution, the property was sold to William B. Skidmore on the 10th of July, and a conveyance made to Harriet Skidmore, Lemuel Skidmore, and William B. Skidmore, his heirs, in due course of proceeding, on the 3d of May, 1876. The heirs, who are the plaintiffs in error, claiming under this title, brought this suit against the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati & St. Louis Company, which was in possession, to recover the property. Upon these facts the court below gave judgment in favor of the railway company, and to reverse that judgment this writ of error has been brought.
MR. CHIEF JUSTICE WAITE delivered the opinion of the Court. He stated the facts in the foregoing language and continued:
The judgment below was clearly right. The Columbus, Chicago & Indiana Central Company was, in equity, the owner of the property when the lease was made, and when the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati & St. Louis Company went into possession under it. The deed executed in February, 1872, pursuant to the contract of purchase, converted the equitable title of the Columbus, Chicago & Indiana Central Company into a legal title, which at once, by operation of law, inured to the benefit of the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati & St. Louis Company under its lease. All the rights of William B. Skidmore as against the property accrued long after those of the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati & St. Louis Company, and are subject to the title of that company. Such being the case, it is entirely unnecessary to inquire whether the Skidmores acquired a valid title to the property as against the Columbus, Chicago & Indiana Central Company. The Pittsburgh, Cincinnati & St. Louis Company is entitled to the possession, whether that title be good or bad.
The judgment is affirmed.