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TABLE OF CASES.
Adams Express Co. (Planters' Nat'l Continental Ins. Co. v. Kasey . 310 Bank v.) 132 Cook v. Corthell
301 Adriatic, The (Marshall v.) . 353 Cooke v. Ford
. 280 Alexandria, City of (Fairfax v.) 512 Corthell (Cook v.) Allen (Clark v.)
316 County of Sac (Cromwell v.) 242 Allen & Co. (Kinney v.) · 258 Cromwell v. County of Sac 242 Alling (Sherlock v.) 38 Cross (Cassell v.),
289 Amoskeag Man. Co. v. Garner 176 Cutts (Chicago, Burlington & QuinAttica, City of (Indiana North & ey R. RO Co. :)
174 South R. R. Co. v.) 377 Davis v. Brown.
337 Backman (U. S. Express Co. v.) . 328 Drake (Holland v.)
479 Bacon (Spice v.) .: 448 Elkins v. McKean.
30 Baltimore & Ohio R. R. Co. v. Cary 391 Erwin v. The State
357 Bangs (King v.)
287 Fairfax v. City of Alexandria 512 Bank of Commerce v. Lanahan 543 First Nat'l Bank of Washington v. Baschore (Miller v.) . 286 Whitman
254 Berry (Rumsey v.). 64 Flack (Cockle v.)
184 Bingham (Pittsburg, Fort Wayne Flemming (The State v.)
• 272 & Chicago R. W. Co.v.) 468 Foley (Handy v.)
532 Bird (Munroe v.) 435 Foote (Pennywit v.)
97 Boston, C. & M. R. R. Co. (Per
Ford (Cooke v.).
. 280 ley v.) 464 Gain (Thomas v.)
1 Boyd (Third Nat'l Bank of Balti
Garner (Amoskeag Man. Co. v.) . 176 more v.) 214 Girardey v. Moore.
387 Broom (Oldham v.)
263 Goodyear Dental Vulcanite Co. Brown v. Brown 442 (Smith v.).
74 (Commonwealth v.) 292 Grand Rapids & Indiana R. R. Co. (Davis v.)
337 (Grand Rapids, Newaygo & (Nixon v.).
187 Lake Shore R. R. Co. v.) 158 Buck (Manhattan Life Ins. Co. v.) 6 Grand Rapids, Newaygo & Lake Cary (Balt. & Ohio R. R. Co. v.) · 391 Shore R. R. Co. v. Grand Rapids Caswell v. Cross 289 & Indiana R. R. Co.
158 Chapman (Searle v.)
. 386 Green v. The Commonwealth 189 Chicago, Burlington & Quincy R. Handy v. Foley
532 R. Co. (Cutts v.) 174 Harris (Pearl v.)
533 City Pass. R. W. Co. (Healey v.). 249
21 Claflin v. Houseman 51 Hawes (The State v.).
524 Clark v. Allen
316 Hazen (Pittsburg, Fort Wayne & Cleveland, City of, v. Lenze 68 Chicago R. W. Co. v.)
83 Cockle v. Flack .
184 Healey v. City Passenger R. R. Co. 249 Coffey (Parks, Brewer & Co. v.) 204 Hentz v. The Idaho
152 Coke (Roberts v.) : 534 Hill (Lindsay v.)
319 Commonwealth v. Brown. 292 | Holland v. Drake
479 (Green v.). 189 Homer (Newell v.)
88 v. Whitman 475 | Houseman (Claflin v.)
AMERICAN LAW TIMES REPORTS :
A COLLECTION OF
DECIDED IN THE COURTS OF THE UNITED STATES AND COURTS
OF FINAL APPEAL OF ALL THE STATES.
NEW SERIES. — JANUARY, 1877. – VOL. IV., No. 1.
SUPREME COURT OF MICHIGAN.
ASSESSMENT OF SEWER TAX.
- WHEN ILLEGAL.
THOMAS 0. GAIN, Marshal.
It is not competent to provide by law that sewer taxes shall be assessed upon lots and
lands benefited according to their superficial area. If such an assessment was lawful there would be ground for a bill in equity to remove a cloud upon title.
APPEAL in chancery from St. Clair Circuit.
COOLEY, J. The principal question in this case is whether it is competent to provide by law that sewer taxes in a city shall be assessed upon the lots and lands benefited in proportion to their superficial area. A subordinate question is, whether, conceding such an assessment to be legal, it can be lawfully made without giving the parties concerned an opportunity to be heard.
The assessment in question was made under act No. 241, of 1875, local acts 1875, p. 3. The second section of that act provides, that, before the assessment shall be made, the common council shall, by resolution, declare what lands, lots, and premises are, and have been, benefited by the construction of the sewers respectively, and such lots, lands, and premises are then to constitute the assessment district for the
of assessing the cost and expense of such sewers respectively. By the fourth section it is provided that the assessment shall be made upon the lots, lands, and premises within the district, “ in proportion to the number of superficial feet therein.” It is further provided, that the assessment roll, when completed, shall remain on file with the city clerk for at least two weeks, at the end of which time “ the same shall be a valid lien and asVOL. IV.
THOMAS v. Gain.
sessment upon and against the several lots and descriptions of land.” No hearing on the assessment is provided for.
The principal objection made to the assessment is, that it is not apportioned among the parties benefited upon any principle recognized in the law; that it is made on a basis purely arbitrary, and consequently cannot be justified as an exercise of the taxing power. It is not claimed that an assessment by benefits would be inadmissible; but it is insisted that an assessment by the area of lots irrespective of proportionate benefits is nothing but a levy of arbitrary exactions, and therefore unconstitutional.
The proper method of levying assessments for sewers has not been much discussed by the courts. In England they have generally been laid in proportion to benefits received, estimated according to the yearly value of the lands within the district. Brooke's case, 5 Rep. B.; Masters v. Scroggs, 3 M. & S. 447; Netterton v. Ward, 3 B. & Ald. 21 ; Stafford v. Hamston, 2 B. & B. 691 ; Loady v. Wilson, 3 Ad. & El. 247; Metropolitan Board of Works v. Vauxhall Bridge Co. 7 El. & Bl. 946. In this country assessments for sewers and also for drains have generally been levied upon an estimate of special benefits. Reeves v. Treasurer of Wood Co. 8 Ohio St. 333; Sessions v. Crunklinton, 20 Ohio St. 349; Draining Co. case, 11 La. An. 338; O'Reiley v. Kankakee Draining Co. 32 Ind. 169; Cove v. Hartford, 28 Conn. 363; Commonwealth v. Woods, 44 Penn. St. 113. It was decided in Connecticut that an arbitrary assessment by the frontage of lots was unreasonable and invalid. Clapp v. Hartford, 35 Conn. 66. But, in Pennsylvania, assessments which charged upon lots a portion of the cost of sewers, not to exceed a certain maximum per foot front, have been sustained. Lipps v. Philadelphia, 38 Penn. St. 503 ; Philadelphia v. Tryon, 35 Penn. St. 401.
The assessment of sewer taxes by the superficial area is quite unusual. In the southwest levee taxes are sometimes assessed in that proportion, and the right to make such assessments has been sustained. Daily v. Swope, 47 Miss. 367 ; Alcorn v. Hamer, 38 Miss. 652; Williams v. Čammach, 27 Miss. 209; Smith v. Aberdeen, 25 Miss. 458; McGehee v Matthis, 21 Ark. 40; Wallace v. Shelton, 14 La. An. 498. In the latter case it is intimated that while no basis of assessment which could be fixed upon would be absolutely just, yet, as it costs as much to protect one acre of land from overflow as it does to protect another, the apportionment by the area is not presumptively unjust. A like decision has been made in Missouri; the court's attention being directed apparently only to the question whether the assessment was such taxation as under the Constitution was required to be apportioned according to the value of property. Egyptian Levee Co. v. Harden, 27 Mo. 497. This decision was afterwards applied to an assessment for sewers ; the court apparently being of opinion that there was no difference in principle between the cases, and discussing the subject with a bare reference to previous decisions. St. Louis v. Creamer, 36 Mo. 456.
It is quite evident to our minds, however, that when it has been determined that a case is one in which a special assessment may be laid, we have not got over all the difficulties that present themselves here. That is only a preliminary question, and involves only a single consideration,