BARNES V. ALEXANDER, 232 U. S. 117 (1914)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Barnes v. Alexander, 232 U.S. 117 (1914)

Barnes v. Alexander

No. 109

Submitted December 1, 1913

Decided January 12, 1914

232 U.S. 117


Where the remarks in the opinion are not necessary to the decision, which was placed mainly on other grounds, and are contrary to all earlier decision, this Court is at least warranted in treating the question as at large.

Although it might be its duty to do so, it would be a strong thing for

Page 232 U. S. 118

this Court to decide that there was nothing to warrant a conclusion, whether of law or of fact, sanctioned by the highest court of a territory that has since become a state upon a matter no longer subject to review here. Phoenix Ry. v. Landis, 231 U. S. 578.

An informal business transaction should be construed as adopting whatever form, consistent with the facts, as is most fitted to reach the result seemingly desired. Sexton v. Kessler, 225 U. S. 90.

It is an ancient principle even of the common law that words of covenant may be construed as a grant when they concern a present right.

In equity, a contract to convey a specific object even before it is acquired will make a contractor a trustee as soon as he gets title thereto.

An obligation to pay, but definitely limited to payment out of the fund, creates a lien. There should be but one rule in this respect, and that is the one suggested by plain good sense.

Where parties have a lien on a fund, they can follow it, as soon as identified, into the hands of others than the person originally receiving it. On this point, this Court follows the territorial court.

In this case, held that parties promised for a consideration a definite portion of a contingent fee if earned had a lien thereon when received by the promisor that they could follow and enforce.

13 Ariz. 338 affirmed.

The facts, which involve the validity of a judgment obtained by the defendants in error against the plaintiff in error in the courts of the Territory of Arizona, are stated in the opinion.

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