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CLAY V. FIELD, 138 U. S. 464 (1891)

U.S. Supreme Court

Clay v. Field, 138 U.S. 464 (1891)

Clay v. Field

Nos. 895, 1085, 1091

Submitted October 27, 1890

Decided March 2, 1891

138 U.S. 464


The surviving partner in the management of a plantation in Tennessee which belonged to the deceased partner retained possession of it after his partner's death, and of the slaves upon it, and continued to operate the plantation in good faith, and for what he thought were the best interests of the estate of the deceased as well as his own. When the war came, the plantation was in the theater of the conflict, and at its close the slaves became free. Held that, under the circumstances, the surviving partner in a general settlement was not accountable for the value of the slaves, but was accountable for the fair rental value of the property, including that of the slaves while they were slaves.

An action for dower is not exempt from, or excepted out of, the act fixing the jurisdictional amount necessary for an appeal to this Court.

If several persons be joined in a suit in equity or admiralty, and have a common and undivided interest, though separable as between themselves, the amount of their joint claim or liability will be the test of jurisdiction; but where their interests are distinct, and they are joined for the sake of convenience only, and because they form a class of parties whose rights or liabilities arose out of the same transaction, or have relation to a common fund or mass of property sought to be administered, such distinct demands or liabilities cannot be aggregated together for the purpose of giving this Court jurisdiction by appeal, but each must stand or fall by itself alone.

The words "received on settlement to this date," where there was a partnership account running through years, may refer to a settlement for the year or a settlement for the whole period of the partnership, and this ambiguity, being a latent one, may be explained by evidence aliunde.

Page 138 U. S. 465

In equity. The case is stated in the opinion.

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