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U.S. Supreme Court

Vicksburg, Shreveport & Texas Railroad Company v. Jackson, 99 U.S. 513 (1878)

Vicksburg, Shreveport & Texas Railroad Company v. Jackson

99 U.S. 513


1. In Louisiana, where a railroad, in a state of complete dilapidation and ruin, was sold under a mortgage under circumstances which, importing some fraud in the purchasers, induced the court to set the sale aside and order a resale, such purchasers, though deemed possessors in bad faith, are entitled, by the spirit of article 508 of the Civil Code of that state, to compensation for reconstructing and repairing the road and putting it in working order.

2. Whatever question may exist about compensation for inseparable improvements made by a possessor in bad faith, there is no question about his right to be reimbursed for necessary repairs, both according to article 2314 of that code and to the general civil law.

3. It seems to be held in Louisiana, contrary to former decisions, that compensation will not be allowed to the possessor in bad faith for inseparable improvements to land such as clearing and ditching, but reconstructing a railroad and putting it in working order, thereby restoring it to its normal condition, partake so much of the nature of repairs that compensation therefor is required by an equitable construction of article 508 of the Civil Code.

4. The rule of compensation in such a case is to allow credit to the possessors for the value of the materials of such improvements as are yet in existence, and the cost of the labor bestowed thereon, not to exceed their value when delivered up; but not for the improvements which were consumed in the use. Interest on the outlay of the possessors will also be allowed to an amount not exceeding the net earnings, or fruits, received from the improvements. They will be accountable, however, for all the fruits received by them from the property, and will have a lien on it for any balance found to be due them on such an accounting. Quaere, are they accountable for such fruits beyond the allowance made to them for the improvements.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

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