Sunday, November 17, 2013

People v. Murray case brief

People v. Murray case brief summary
15 Cal. 159 (1859)

Appellant owners of a surface claim appealed from a judgment of the Fifteenth District Court (California) for respondent corporation, the owner of a claim to a quartz lode, in the surface owners' suit for the value of the gold allegedly taken from their claim by the corporation, averring various continuous trespasses. An injunction was granted and subsequently dissolved before a hearing, and the action was dismissed.

The corporation recorded a notice of claims made on a quartz lode, comprising all its spurs and branches, and the corporation worked a narrow strip of ground along a projecting ledge along which fallen masses of quartz lay. Subsequently, the surface owners took up surface or hillside claims, by which they claimed the whole of a hillside, from a ravine up to the quartz lode held by the corporation. The work of the surface owners was stopped within a short distance of the ledge because the corporation claimed the ownership of the ground where the fallen rubble lay. The interstices of the fallen masses of quartz were filled with gold, and the surface owners brought the instant action to recover for the gold taken by the corporation. The only question of fact was whether the rubble was part of the same quartz lode claimed by the corporation. The trial court apparently found that it was, which view the evidence strongly supported.


  • The court affirmed, finding that the location and condition of the rubble were rendered irrelevant by the finding that it was all part of the lode the corporation had claimed. 
  • The custom of miners was entitled to great weight.

The court affirmed.

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