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GRIFFING V. GIBB, 67 U. S. 519 (1862)

U.S. Supreme Court

Griffing v. Gibb, 67 U.S. 2 Black 519 519 (1862)

Griffing v. Gibb

67 U.S. (2 Black) 519


1. If a bill in equity, brought by the proprietor of a city lot, avers that the rights of the plaintiff are illegally, wrongfully and injuriously affected by the acts of the defendants, the bill on its face entitles the plaintiff to relief.

2. The defendant cannot sustain a demurrer to such a bill on the ground that he was justified by an act of state legislature.

3. The Court is bound to notice judicially the laws of the state defining the limits of a city in cases where the pleadings make it proper to do so, but not on a demurrer, where the facts, as stated in the bill, make it the duty of the Court to rule in favor of the plaintiff.

4. A demurrer is a denial in form and substance of the plaintiff's right to have his case considered in a court of equity and an admission of all its allegations that are properly pleaded.

Frederick Griffing filed his bill in the district court against Daniel Gibb and Donald Fraser, averring that he was the owner of two lots in San Francisco which originally fronted on the natural shore of the bay with bold deep water in front; that he bought this property with a view to its waterfront; that he built warehouses and a wharf on it to which ships of the largest size could come; that when he commenced his improvements, there was no sign of any streets near him which interfered with his access to the water, the lines of Filbert and Battery Streets being defined only on the city maps; that the defendants are engaged in filling up a certain part of the bay in a way which will prevent ships from coming to his warehouse -- the part to be thus filled up being a lot of one hundred varas square, covered by navigable tidewater and situate between, and forming, the northeast corner of, Filbert and Battery Streets as defined on the city map. The plaintiff asserts that these acts of the defendants are in violation of his rights, injurious to the public, and contrary to the Constitution and Laws of the United States

Page 67 U. S. 520

and of the state of California, and therefore prays for a perpetual injunction.

To this bill the defendants demur; the court sustained the demurrer and the plaintiff having failed to amend the bill within the time limited by the rule of court, a final decree was passed dismissing the bill. Thereupon the plaintiff took an appeal to this Court.

Page 67 U. S. 521

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