SHAPPIRIO V. GOLDBERG, 192 U. S. 232 (1904)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Shappirio v. Goldberg, 192 U.S. 232 (1904)

Shappirio v. Goldberg

No. 87

Argued December 9, 1903

Decided January 18, 1904

192 U.S. 232


To ascertain its jurisdiction, this Court looks not to a single feature of the case, but to the entire controversy.

Where the prayer for relief is either for conveyance of land worth less than $5,000 or for a rescission of a contract of sale and repayment of the purchase money of over $5,000, the necessary amount is involved to give this Court jurisdiction of an appeal from the Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia.

Where the issues are mainly those of fact, in the absence of clear showing of error, the findings of the two lower courts will be accepted as correct.

Where a party desires to rescind on the ground of misrepresentation or fraud, he must upon the discovery of the fraud announce his purpose and adhere to it. If he continues to treat the property as his own, the right of rescission is gone, and he will be held bound by the contract.

This was an action begun in the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia by Mary Shappirio and Jacob Shappirio, her husband, against Minnie D. Goldberg and George Goldberg, her husband, having for its object equitable relief because of alleged fraud of the respondents in the sale of certain property in Washington, District of Columbia, to the complainant, Mary Shappirio.

It appears that the sale was made through one Richold, a broker in real estate. George Goldberg was the owner of the property, and by memorandum made on May 11, 1900, authorized Richold to sell the property known as lots Nos. 1245 and 1247, being part of lot 28, square 977, fronting 34 feet on 11th Street S.E. by 80 feet deep to an alley. Richold sold the property to Jacob Shappirio, for whom he was seeking an investment, for the price of $6,000. The terms were cash, $100 having been paid down at the making of the sale. This

Page 192 U. S. 233

property, having two buildings upon it, and being part of lot 28, is described as follows:

"Beginning for the same at the southeast corner of said lot and running thence north on Eleventh Street thirty-four (34) feet; thence west eighty (80) feet eight (8) inches to an alley; thence south on said alley fourteen(14) feet; thence east eighteen (18) feet; thence south twenty(20) feet, and thence east sixty-two (62) feet eight (8) inches to the place of beginning."

In the rear of the premises there was a strip 20 by 30 feet, having upon it a shed or stable, which, before the sale, was in the possession of Goldberg under an arrangement for its use, and was used by him in connection with the premises. This piece was not fenced off at the time of sale, and might well be taken to be a part of the premises by any person examining the same without accurate knowledge of the extent of the property actually owned by Goldberg. The annexed plat shows the part of lot 28 covered by the description in the deed, and the part of lot 2 in dispute:


Although the purchase was made by Jacob Shappirio, the deed was made to Mary Shappirio, June 5, 1900. On September 28, 1900, a conveyance by the owner of the title to lot 2 was made of the part of that lot in the rear of the premises to Minnie D. Goldberg, wife of George Goldberg, for the consideration of $300. Mary Shappirio and Jacob Shappirio, on

Page 192 U. S. 234

June 5, 1900, executed a deed of trust upon the property conveyed to her in the sum of $4,500. In the trust deed, the property was accurately described.

After the property had been conveyed to Mary Shappirio, it was rented to Goldberg, the vendor, who continued to occupy the same for eleven months. Upon asking a reduction of the rent, which was refused, Goldberg left the premises. On May 18, 1901, the present bill was filed, in which it was charged that Goldberg, in order to induce the sale in question, falsely represented that the property in the rear of lot 28 belonged to him, and would be included in the property sold, and notwithstanding the appearance of the property and the representations of Goldberg, the part conveyed did not include the part of lot 2 in the rear of lot 28; that George Goldberg afterwards purchased the property, part of lot 2, and caused the same to be conveyed to Minnie D. Goldberg, his wife, as a part of a scheme to defraud the plaintiff; that the wife was a party to the fraud, and had no interest in the property except to hold it for her husband.

The bill prays that this parcel of ground, part of lot 2, be decreed to be held by Minnie D. Goldberg for the use of the plaintiff, Mary Shappirio, and be conveyed to her. If this relief cannot be granted, the prayer is that the sale be rescinded, and Goldberg be required to pay back the amount of the purchase money, with costs and charges, and, upon default of payment, the property be sold.

A general denial of the allegations of fraud and deceit is made in the answer, together with the averment that the plaintiffs relied upon their own investigation, and if they were deceived as to the extent of the property, it was the result of the want of due care upon their part.

In the supreme court, the bill of the complainant was dismissed, which decree was affirmed in the Court of Appeals.

Page 192 U. S. 239

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