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United States v. Diamond Coal & Coke Co., 255 U.S. 323 (1921)

United States v. Diamond Coal & Coke Company

No. 87

Argued November 11, 1920

Decided March 7, 1921

255 U.S. 323


1. The government has no equity to maintain a suit to set aside a fraudulently procured land patent, after the expiration of the statutory period of limitation, upon the ground that the fraud was concealed (Exploration Co. v. United States, 247 U. S. 435) if it has been guilty of laches in discovering the fraud. P. 255 U. S. 333.

2. In a suit by the government to annul coal land patents outstanding

Page 255 U. S. 324

14 to 20 years, where the bill alleged that the entries were made by hirelings for the exclusive benefit of a coal company, operating nearby, which had taken possession of the land applied for and paid all expenses of the entries, but that the land office officials believed and relied upon the false statements of the entrymen that they were in possession and acting only for themselves, and where the bill further alleged that the entrymen deeded to the company soon after entering the land, and that the company afterwards extracted from it large quantities of coal, but that the proceedings concerning the entries were, and were intended to be, such that the fraud was concealed and that no knowledge or notice of it came to the United States until it was in part revealed by a report of a special agent made shortly before the institution of the suit, held that the allegations excused the delay in bringing the suit, and that it was error to dismiss the bill by resorting to mere inferences and conjecture of notice, as by assuming that the deeds were promptly recorded (the bill not stating when), and by assuming that the company's possession was such as to give notice to the government. P. 255 U. S. 334.

254 F. 266 reversed.

This was an appeal from a judgment of the circuit court of appeals which affirmed a judgment of the District Court for the District of Wyoming dismissing, on defendant's motion, a bill brought by the United States to set aside numerous patents for coal land on the ground of fraud and for an accounting for coal extracted.

Page 255 U. S. 329

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