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U.S. Supreme Court

Leonard v. Ozark Land Company, 115 U.S. 465 (1885)

Leonard v. Ozark Land Company

Submitted November 16, 1885

Decided November 23, 1885

115 U.S. 465




It is settled in this Court that injunctions ordered by final decree in equity in the courts below are not vacated by appeal.

The judge in the court below who heard the case is empowered by Equity Rule 93, when allowing an appeal from a final decree granting or dissolving an injunction, to suspend or modify the injunction pending appeal, and upon such terms as may be considered proper.

This is a motion for a modification of the supersedeas, or more properly, perhaps, for a modification of the injunction contained in the decree appealed from. The bill prayed, among other things, for an injunction restraining "the defendant, Leonard, from cutting or removing any trees, logs, or timber, or any staves manufactured from any trees or timber from any of the lands" in controversy. In the decree, the defendants were "perpetually enjoined from cutting or removing any timber from said lands." The appeal operates as a supersedeas, it having been taken within sixty days after the disposition of the motion, which was made during the same term, to vacate the decree, and the bond being in the form required for that purpose. The decree was rendered by the judge of the District Court of Arkansas, sitting as circuit judge. The same judge allowed the appeal, and, in doing so, directed that it should

"not operate to suspend or affect so much of the decree . . . as enjoins the defendants from cutting or otherwise trespassing on the lands in controversy, . . . or removing staves or timber cut thereon."

The appellant now moves this Court

"to vacate so much of the decree of the court below granting an appeal and accepting appeal bond as qualifies the said appeal and prevents the same from superseding the decree

Page 115 U. S. 466

rendered for the appellees, and especially so much of the said decree granting said appeal as prevents said appellant, J. W. Leonard, from removing the staves made on the land in controversy before service or entry of the decree in favor of the appellees.

Page 115 U. S. 467


MR. CHIEF JUSTICE WAITE delivered the opinion of the Court. After stating the facts in the language above reported, he continued:

Page 115 U. S. 468

The injunction ordered by the final decree was not vacated by the appeal. Slaughterhouse Cases, 10 Wall. 297; Hovey v. McDonald, 109 U. S. 161. It is true that in some of the Slaughterhouse Cases, the appeal was from a decree making perpetual a preliminary injunction which had been granted at an earlier stage of the case, but the fact of the preliminary injunction had nothing to do with the decision, which was

"that neither an injunction nor a decree dissolving an injunction is reversed or nullified by an appeal or writ of error before the cause is heard in this Court."

This doctrine, in the general language here stated, was distinctly reaffirmed in Hovey v. McDonald, and it clearly refers to the injunction contained in the decree appealed from, without reference to whether that injunction was in perpetuation of a former order to the same effect or was then for the first time granted. This injunction, therefore, which was granted by the final decree in this case, is in full force notwithstanding the appeal.

Construing the injunction as granted in connection with the averments in the bill, the prayer for relief, and the findings in the decree, we think it restrains the appellees from removing the staves manufactured from timber cut on the land, as well as the timber in its unmanufactured state, and the order made by the judge when he allowed the appeal is in reality nothing more than notice to the appellant that such was the effect of his decree. It was not, and was not intended to be, an enlargement of the original scope of the injunction, but, under the circumstances, a justifiable precaution against a possible misunderstanding by the appellant of the extent and effect of the decree appealed from.

This Court no doubt has the power to modify an injunction granted by a decree below in advance of a final hearing of an appeal on its merits. An application to that effect was made to us at the October term, 1878, in the case of Sandusky Tool Co. v. Comstock [not reported], and finding that such a practice, if permitted, would oftentimes involve an examination of the whole case and necessarily take much time, we promulgated the present equity Rule 93, which is as follows:

"When an appeal from a final decree in an equity suit

Page 115 U. S. 469

granting or dissolving an injunction is allowed by a justice or judge who took part in the decision of the cause, he may, in his discretion at the time of such allowance, make an order suspending or modifying an injunction during the pendency of the appeal upon such terms as to bond or otherwise as he may consider proper for the security of the rights of the opposite party."

Here, the judge who heard the case allowed the appeal, and instead of suspending or modifying the injunction, he took occasion to give special notice that it was to continue in force, and if the facts are correctly stated in his opinion, it was quite proper he should do so.

The motion is denied.

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