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GRANT V. STRONG, 85 U. S. 623 (1873)

U.S. Supreme Court

Grant v. Strong, 85 U.S. 18 Wall. 623 623 (1873)

Grant v. Strong

85 U.S. (18 Wall.) 623


A builder's lien held not to have attached where a builder took a real security for payment of the work which he was to do, and afterwards, the work being all done, gave it up and took a mere note.

Strong filed a bill in equity in the court below against Grant to establish a mechanic's lien for the sum of $1,547. There was no denial that work was done, nor that it was of the value alleged, nor that it was of that character for which liens are allowed by the laws of the District.

The question was whether, under all the circumstances of the case, such a lien ever attached.

The material facts were these:

On the 14th day of October, 1869, the parties made an agreement that Strong should do the brickwork on sixteen houses which Grant was building. The price of the work per thousand bricks was agreed upon, and that Strong should take one of the houses in payment for his work, the price of which was also fixed; and this contract was reduced to writing. A conveyance was made by Grant of the lot which Strong was to have, and the deed duly acknowledged and recorded and placed in the hands on Enoch Totten, as an escrow, to be delivered to Strong when the work was completed. During the progress of the work, dissatisfaction arose between the parties after the larger part of it had been done, and on the 27th of November, a new written contract was made. This, after reciting the former agreement, says that it is agreed that Strong shall finish all the brickwork up to the first floor joists without delay. The price was changed, but the old agreement was referred to for the mode of measurement. It is then said that the same is to be paid for in Grant's negotiable note, payable within three months from the date of the completion of the work, and then the agreement of October 14 shall be cancelled and declared

Page 85 U. S. 624

null and void and of no effect, and the escrow in the hands of Totten be delivered up to Grant, otherwise said agreement to remain in full force and effect.

Another paper, signed by both parties, dated January 1, 1870, recites the former agreements and that the work had been finished and measured, and that Grant had given his promissory note for the amount, according to the contract of November 27, and that therefore the escrow in Totten's hands is declared null and void and is to be delivered to Grant by Totten.

A good deal of evidence was found in the record as to what was said and done by the parties in the matter, and the court below decreed that a lien existed. From that decree this appeal was taken.

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