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LOVEJOY V. MURRAY, 70 U. S. 1 (1865)

U.S. Supreme Court

Lovejoy v. Murray, 70 U.S. 3 Wall. 1 1 (1865)

Lovejoy v. Murray

70 U.S. (3 Wall.) 1


1. A bond of indemnity given by a plaintiff in an attachment to induce the officer to hold, after levy, property not subject to the writ makes such plaintiff a joint trespasser with the officer as to all that is done with the property afterwards.

2. A judgment against one joint trespasser is no bar to a suit against another for the same trespass. Nothing short of full satisfaction, or that which the law must consider as such, can make such judgment a bar.

3. A plaintiff in attachment who indemnifies the attaching officer, and afterwards takes upon himself the defense when that officer is sued is concluded by the judgment against that officer where such plaintiff is afterwards sued for the same trespass.

Lovejoy brought suit in one of the courts of Iowa against O. H. Pratt, and the sheriff attached certain personal property which was assumed to be the property of Pratt. A certain Murray, however, claimed it as his. The sheriff, now in possession, was unwilling to proceed further in the attachment or to sell the property under it unless indemnified by Lovejoy & Co. These parties accordingly executed a bond, in which, reciting that the sheriff had attached and taken possession of the property, they bound themselves to pay all damages &c. The sheriff then proceeded to sell the property under Lovejoy & Co.'s attachment and under direction of their attorneys.

This being done, Murray sued the sheriff for an alleged trespass. The sheriff gave notice of this suit, as soon as

Page 70 U. S. 2

brought, to Lovejoy & Co., and they defendant it, counsel, whom they paid, having taken exclusive charge of it. In this suit, Murray obtained

Judgment against the sheriff for . . . . . . . $6,233

Which the sheriff, without execution issued,

satisfied to the extent of . . . . . . . . . 830


Leaving a balance unsatisfied of . . . . . . . $5,403

Murray then brought suit against Lovejoy & Co. for this same trespass; and the facts being agreed on in a case stated, the court gave judgment for the plaintiffs for the amount of the judgment against the sheriff less the $830 paid by him.

On error here from the Massachusetts Circuit (where Lovejoy & Co. had been sued), three questions were made.

1. Did Lovejoy & Co., in giving the bond of indemnity to the sheriff, become thereby liable as joint trespassers with him in what was done under the attachment?

2. Did Murray, by suing the sheriff alone, and getting partial satisfaction of the judgment against that officer, bar himself of a right to sue Lovejoy & Co. for the same trespass?

3. Was Murray's judgment against the sheriff conclusive against Lovejoy & Co. in this suit against them?

The case was thoroughly argued on both sides, in this Court, on the authorities, ancient and modern, English and our own.

Page 70 U. S. 8

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