CONVERS V. ATCHISON, T. & S.F. R. CO., 142 U. S. 671 (1892)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Convers v. Atchison, T. & S.F. R. Co., 142 U.S. 671 (1892)

Convers v. Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad Company

No. 154

Argued January 11, 1892

Decided January 26, 1892

142 U.S. 671


When a railroad company initiates proceedings in Illinois to acquire land for its road, and a defendant appears and claims ownership of the tract, and no denial is made to this claim, and only evidence as to the amount of compensation is presented for the consideration of the jury, and the jury awards a sum as such amount, the judgment should either direct the payment of this sum to such owner or the deposit of the same with the county treasurer for his benefit.

The Court stated the case as follows:

On June 7 and 10, 1887, respectively, the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad Company in Chicago, the defendant in error, filed two petitions in the county court of Cook County, Illinois, to condemn the right of way through certain lands. The present plaintiff in error was made a party defendant to each of those proceedings. He appeared, and in each filed a cross-petition alleging his ownership of a particular tract and praying specified damages for its appropriation to the uses of the railroad company. Thereafter, being a citizen and resident of New Jersey, he filed petitions and bonds for removal of the cases to the Circuit Court of the United States for the Northern District of Illinois. The removal papers alleged a separable controversy between Convers and the railroad company. After removal, there was a consolidation of the two cases, and, no one appearing in that court but himself and the railroad company, the issues were submitted to a jury upon pleadings of this nature: on the part of the railroad company, petitions disclosing its proposed right of way, asking an appropriation of the lands therefor, and an ascertainment of the damages, and cross-petitions by Convers,

Page 142 U. S. 672

alleging that he was the owner of particular tracts described within this right of way, and the damages which he would sustain by their appropriation by the railroad company, and praying compensation therefor. To the averments in the pleadings on either side there was no formal denial, and upon these pleadings the case went to trial. The jury found the amount of damages to be $12,000. The verdict, after describing the lands, recited:

"And that the owners and parties interested therein are entitled to the sum of twelve thousand dollars, the value of the land taken and all improvements thereon, in full compensation for the same."

Upon such verdict, the plaintiff in error moved for a judgment in his favor for $12,000, the total amount of the damages, but this was refused, and the judgment which was entered ignored him, and decreed that for the particular tracts described,

"the sum of money awarded by the jury in and by their said verdict to the owners and parties interested in the property above described is a just compensation for the taking of said premises for the railroad purposes of the petitioner herein and for all damages to property not taken. And it is further ordered that the petitioner pay to the County Treasurer of Cook County, Illinois, for the benefit of the owners and parties interested in the premises above described, the sum of twelve thousand dollars ($12,000), being the amount awarded by said jury in and by their said verdict. It is further ordered, adjudged, and decreed that upon the making of said payment to the said county treasurer, the petitioner, the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad Company in Chicago, may enter upon the premises above described and the use of the same for railroad purposes."

To reverse such judgment, Convers sued out a writ of error from this Court.

Page 142 U. S. 673

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