Cole vs Ralph Supreme Court Case – Prediscovery Rights


Cole Vs Ralph- Prediscovery Rights

U.S. Supreme Court

Cole v. Ralph, 252 U.S. 286 (1920)

Cole v. Ralph

Nos. 172, 173

Argued December 8, 1919

Decided March 15, 1920

252 U.S. 286


Where judgments of the district court, rendered for the plaintiff on verdicts in certain adverse suits, were reversed by the circuit court of appeal upon a construction and application of the mining laws without disposing of other question presented, and, because of the general interest of the federal questions so decided, writs of certiorari were allowed to review such judgments of reversal, held that this Court, although it might confine itself to the matters considered by the circuit court of appeals, would proceed to a complete decision, since the parties united in presenting all the questions and the litigation had been protracted. P. 252 U. S. 290.

Assertion of defendant’s possession in the answer cures omission to aver it in the complaint in ejectment. Id.

To avoid a waiver, objections to defects of pleading should be timely, and not deferred for advantage at the trial. Id.

A contract for a specified share in the proceeds of a mining location with a right to have it worked and made productive need not be recorded, in Nevada, to be good inter partes. P. 252 U. S. 291.

One who has such a contractual interest is a proper party to an adverse suit brought to protect the claim, and, under the law of Nevada, may be allowed to come in as a plaintiff before the trial. Id.

In Nevada, an interest in a mining claim arising from a husband’s location and deeded by him to his wife for a recited present money consideration is community property where it does not appear that the consideration came from her separate property, or that the mining interest was treated as such, or that a gift to the wife was intended, and the husband may file an adverse claim against a hostile application for patent, and sue to protect the claim in his own name. P. 252 U. S. 292.

The right of a mining locator to file an adverse claim and maintain an adverse suit is not divested by prior attachment of his interest, but his acts in that regard inure to the benefit of those who afterwards, through the attachment case, succeed to his interest, and they may be substituted as plaintiffs when such interest has fully passed to them. Id.

Page 252 U. S. 287

An adverse claim is not invalidated by a misnomer of a claimant, due to an inadvertence, by which no one is misled or harmed. P. 252 U. S. 293.

Absence of revenue stamps does not make a deed invalid or inadmissible in evidence under the Act of October 22, 1914. Id.

Rules of the mining law restated respecting the rights of explorer, those of lode locators and of placer locators, significance and distinction of discovery and assessment work, and the nature and effect of adverse proceedings. Pp. 252 U. S. 294 et seq.

A placer discovery will not sustain a lode location, nor a lode discovery a placer location. P. 252 U. S. 295.

Location — the act or series of acts whereby the boundaries of the claim are marked, etc. — confers no rights in the absence of discovery. P. 252 U. S. 296.

Assessment work does not take the place of discovery. Id.

A junior placer location with earlier placer discovery prevails over a senior lode location with later lode discovery. P. 252 U. S. 297.

Evidence reviewed and held sufficient to go to the jury on the question of prior discovery as between lode and placer claims, and as to whether the latter were initiated by trespass or peaceably and openly or even with acquiescence of the lode claimant. P. 252 U. S. 299.

Evidence that placer claimants entered openly upon lode claims, where some prospecting had recently been done and where there were buildings, in charge of a watchman, which had been used by the lode claimant in operations on other claims and which the placer claimants did not appropriate or disturb, and that they made their discoveries and locations and remained several months, working and mining, held enough, in the absence of any proof that they met with resistance or resorted to hostile, fraudulent acts, to warrant a jury in finding no trespass upon the actual possession of the lode claimant and acquiescence by him. Id.

The presence of buildings owned by a mining claimant, on his claim but not used in connection with it, held evidence of his actual possession of the place where they stood and, in less degree, of the remainder of the claim, but ineffectual to prevent others from entering peaceably and in good faith under the mining laws. P. 252 U. S. 300.

An adverse placer claimant does not admit the validity of a preexisting lode location by posting a lode location notice through a mistake, promptly corrected and not misleading. P. 252 U. S. 303.

Generally, and specifically in Nevada, recitals of discovery in location notices are self-serving declarations, not evidence against adverse claimants. Id.

Revised Statutes § 2332 provides that, where a mining claim has been held and worked for a period equal to the time prescribed by the

Page 252 U. S. 288

local state or territorial statute of limitation for mining claims, evidence of such possession and working for such period shall be sufficient to establish a right to a patent in the absence of any adverse claim. Held that it doe not dispense with, or cure the absence of, discovery. P. 252 U. S. 305.

To “work” a mining claim is to do something toward making it productive, such as developing or extracting an ore body after it bas been discovered. P. 252 U. S. 307.

249 F. 81 reversed.

The case is stated in the opinion.

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