HUTHSING ". BOUSQUET and
(Oircuit (Jourt, D.
May 11, 1881.)
Suit being brought againSt the members of the board of supervisors of Marion county for a reward publioly offered" by order of the board of supervisors.. H. D. Lucas, chairman,"-held: (1) That the offer clearly appeared to have been made by the defendants in their official capacity, and not as individuals. (2) That their authority to make contract being a matter of plaintiffs had notice of their want of authority, and could not therefore hold the defendants personally liable.
Demurrer. MCCRARY, C. J. This is an action to recover the sum of $5,000, which the defendants, who were membe.rs of the board of supervisors of Marion county, offered as !Ii reward, fOlthe apprehension. and conviction of the robbers of the treasury of that county. The question is before us upon a demurrer the petition. The plaintiff claims to recover upon two grounds:
(1) That the defendants offered the reward as individuals, and not in their official capacity as supervisors, and that, consequently, the contract upon which the plaintiff counts is a personal contract, binding upon the defendants as individuals. (2) That if the defendants assumed to bind the county of Marion by the offer of the reward in question, they transcended their authority as supervisors, and therefore, by the law of agency, became themselves personally bound to perform the contract.
The action cannot, in our judgment, be maintained on the first ground because the undertaking as Bet out in the petition does not admit of the construction that it was the intention of the parties that the defendants should be personally bound to pay the offered reward. It is perfectly clear that the offer was made by the defendants in their official capacity, and that it must have been so understood by both parties. The averments of the petitioner areThat the defendants were the legally-elected and acting board of supervisors of :Marion county; that on the tenth of October the defendants, assuming to act for said county, but without authority, caused to be published and circulated a certain circular letter in the following words:
rEDER:!iL .REPORTER. ,.
"MARION COUNTY TREASURY ROBBERY·
.. On Thursday, the tenth day of October, 1876, at 7 o'clock P. M., the treasury of Marion county waS robbed of about .12,000. The deed WBS committed by two men with black velvet masks, etc. [Here follow!! a description of the men.] Five. thousand dollars for the arrest and convic. tion of the thieves. Five thousand dollars additional reward will be paid for the recovery of the money. &' By order. of the board of supervisors, ' "H. D. LUCAS, Chairman."
, There is no ambiguity in this paper. There is nothing in it open to interpretation. It. purports to be not the act of the individual members of the board. It is signed by the defendant Lucas as chairma.n of the board of supervisors, in express terms "by order of the board of supervisors." The offered reward related to So public, not a private, matter. These defendants had no more interest as mere individuals in the arrest a:nd conviction of the offenders than any other citizen. How is it possible that the plaintiffs could have misunderstood the offer as a proposition ·afmere individual oitizens to make themselves personally responsible for so large a sum, in the face of express terms showing that they were acting by order of the board of supervisors and there. fore as mere representatives of the board? What possible terms could these defendants have used to show more explicitly that they made the offer in their representative ca.pacity as public officers, than the words they did use, "by order of the board of supervisors?" No averment in pleading can change the purport of these words, and the court cannQt by construction do violence to their plain meaning. The plaintiff c6uld not have understood that the defendant Lucas, in signing a paper as chairman and by order of the board, meant what he did not say, namely: that he offered the reward without the order of the board, and as an individual, upon his 'personal responsibility. The intention of the parties to this contract is not to be mistaken, and its construction must follow the intention. The decisions of the supreme court of Iowa to the effect that the board ,of supervisors have no authority to offer such reward had not been made when the reward was offered and acted upon. Both parties, doubtless, acted under a mistake of law. It was very natural that they should both sup-
HUTHSING 'U. MnSQUIT.
pose that the authority in the board to make the offer, and they, no doubt, both intended that the county of Marion should be bound by it. Having made the contract Mththis intent, the plaintiff cannot now convert it into a contract with the defendants personally. The plaintiff cannot make a contract with one. party and count upon it in pleading as It contract with another and different party. Howk v. MarWn Oounty,48 Iowa, 472. Can the action be maintained upon the second ground stated above? It is clear that the second ground, like the first, is untenable. When an agent makes a contract in the name of his principal, but without authority, he binds himself, for the reason that if the agent is not bound there is no one to respond to the third contracting party. If, in such case, the agent were not bound, his; act in representing himself to have authority would operate as a upon the other contracting party. But if, in such case, the agent were to tell the third contracting party that he had no authority to bind the principal; it would be the folly of the other contracting party to enter into such a contract, and he could not claim to be defrauded. Neither could he count upon a contract against the agent, because that would be contrary to the very terms and the manifest intent of the contract. He would have to lie on the bed which he made for himself, with his eyes open. The law does not aim to relieve a party against the consequences of his own folly. The case us stands upon this principle. The board of supervisors had no authority by law to make the contract on which the plaintiff relies in this action. The plaintiff was bound to know the law, and we must proceed, therefore, upon the assumption that he did, when he accepted the offer and performed the service, know that the board had no authority to offer the reward. The offer was ultra vires. The plaintiff knew it. It was his own folly to accept such an offer. He cannot claim that he was misled or deceived, and the court cannot relieve him. It has been frequently decided in this and other states that where a public officer makes a contract uUra vires, the
886 party contracting with him cannot hold the public officer' responsible as an agent acting without authority. This dootrine has bee;n laid down upon the express ground of the third contracting party's knowledge when entering into the contract of the public agent's want of authority. McCwrdy v. Rogers, 21 Wis. 197; Birchard v. Warren County, 31 Iowa, 389; Boardman v. Hayne, 29 Iowa, 339. . In the great county bond litigation which lately agitated the courts of this state, it was never claimed that the county officers who had, as qecided by the supreme court of Iowa, acted ultra vires in issuing the bonds, were themselves per. sonally liable as agents contracting without authority. It has been suggested that the defendants offered the reward without any formal meeting and resolution of the board authorizing it. This would be material if there had been any statutory authority empowering the board, at a regular or called session, to offer the reward in question; but since if at an authorized session a resolution of the board offering the reward would have been utterly without authority and void, it can make no kind of difference that the defendants acted. without such formal meeting and authority. If there had been statutory authority, and the defendants had acted, in offering the reward, without actual authority conferred by the board, the plaintiff could charge them upon the contract as agents acting without or transcending their authority, because in that case the want of authority depending on a matter of fact, not law, notice of the absence of power to make the oontraot oould not be imputed to the plaintiff. Demurrer sustained.
NAT. SHOE & LEATHER BANK OF AUBURN V. SMALL.
NATIONAL SHOE & LEATHER BANK OF AUBURN, and others, v. SMALL, Assignee, etc., and others.
(District Oourt. D. Maine. June, 1881.)
NEGOTIABLE P APER-HOLDERS-S1ll3ROGATION TEL MORTGAGE-INSOLVENCY.
Where the makers and indorsers of negotiable paper are insolvent, the holders thereof may, upon the principle of subrogllot,iOn, avail themselves of the rights of such indorsers arising under a chattel mortgage given them by the makers to secure them against 1088 because of their liability as indorsers.
2. CHATTED MORTGAGE OF AFTER-ACQUIRED PROPERTy...:...MoRTGAGEES
In eqUity the right of mortgagees in after-acquired property under a chattel covering such property, as well as stock in hand, is superior to that of general creditors of the insolvent mortgagors.
SAME-NEGLECTING TO HECORD BEFORE THE INSOLVENCY OF 'l'HE MORTGAGORS.
This right is not defeated by the neglect of the mortgagees to record their mortgage before the mortgagors became insolvent.
In Equity. Webb et Haskell, for plaintiffs. Wm. L. Putnam, for defendants. Fox, D. J.This bill is instituted by two national banks located in Androscoggin county, in this district, against L. L. Small, the assiguee, under the insolvent law of this of the estates of Joshua M. and Mary A. Wagg, and Nathaniel I. Jordan, assignee of Samuel P. Irving and Hartwell K. Wagg, copartners in the shoe business at Auburn, under the style of Irving & Wagg, praying to be subrogated to the rights of Joshua M. and Mary A. Wagg under a certain chattel mortgage made and executed to them by Irving & Wagg on the tenth of July, A. D. 1879, to secure said Joshua M. and Mary A. Wagg the payment of certain sums loaned by them to Irving & Wagg, and also to save them harmless from all liability on account of any indorsements made or to be made by them for the benefit of said Irving & Wagg; the complainants having afterwards discounted for Irving &