MILLER'S HEIRS V. MCINTYRE, 31 U. S. 61 (1832)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Miller's Heirs v. McIntyre, 31 U.S. 6 Pet. 61 61 (1832)

Miller's Heirs v. McIntyre

31 U.S. (6 Pet.) 61


A bill was filed in 1808 for the purpose of obtaining the legal title to certain lands in Kentucky, and afterwards new parties were made defendants in an amended bill filed in 1815. Until these parties had so become defendants and parties to the bill, the suit cannot be considered as commenced against them.

The stature of limitations will avail the new defendants at the period, when the amended bill was filed, and they are not to be affected by the proceeding during the time they were strangers to it.

Where the statute of limitations is pleaded at law or in equity and the plaintiff desires to bring himself within its savings, it would be proper for him, in his replication or by an amendment of his bill, to set forth the facts specially.

The adverse possession was taken in this case in the spring of 1788 or 1789. In the spring of 1796, the ancestor of the complainants died, and his heirs brought suit against the present defendants in 1815. Some of the complainants were not of full age in 1804. Unless the disability be shown to exist so as to protect the right of the complainants, the effect of the statute on that ground cannot be avoided.

If an entry be made under a grant and there is no adverse possession, the entry will be limited only by the grant unless the contrary appear.

At least twenty-six years elapsed after the adverse possession was taken by the defendants before suit was brought against them by the complainants, and nineteen years from the decease of their ancestor. The statute of limitations of Virginia was made the statute of Kentucky by adoption in 1792; if the adverse possession which had been held for several years commenced at that time, or when the constitution formed by Kentucky was sanctioned by Congress, it would give a possession of about twenty-two years, eighteen or nineteen of which were subsequent to the decease of the complainants' ancestor. Upon these facts, the statute of limitations of Kentucky is a bar to a claim of the land by the complainants.

The courts in Kentucky and elsewhere, by analogy, apply the statute of limitations in chancery to bar an equitable right when at law it would have operated against a grant. This principle has been well established and generally sanctioned in courts of equity.

At law, the statute operates where the conflicting titles are adverse in their origin, and no reason is perceived against giving the statute the same effect in equity.

The facts and pleadings of the case are fully stated in the opinion of the Court.

Page 31 U. S. 62

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