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Brown v. Pierce County

Supreme Court of Washington

April 17, 1902, Decided

No. 3809


 [**873]    [*347]  This action was brought by respondents against appellants. The respondents allege that they were the owners of a certain lot in the city of Tacoma, which was at the time of the acts complained of reasonably worth $ 200, and that a dwelling house thereon was worth the additional sum of $ 1,200. It is alleged in the complaint that the appellants, through their respective health officers, and without the consent of respondents, seized and appropriated said lot and building for the purpose of using them as a pesthouse for the isolation and quarantining of certain persons in said city and county who were afflicted with small-pox; that in pursuance of such purpose the appellants, through their [***5]  officers and agents, caused persons so afflicted to be removed into and upon said property,  [*348]  and that the same was used as such pesthouse for a long period of time, and until said building was destroyed by fire; that on account of such seizure and appropriation the appellants became indebted to respondents in the sum of $ 1,400, the same being the value of the property and the value of its use and occupation. It is further alleged that payment was demanded and refused, and respondents make a continuing tender of a deed to said premises, and ask judgment for $ 1,400. Demurrers to the complaint by each of the appellants were overruled, and appellants then answered separately, denying the material allegations of the complaint. A trial was had before a jury, resulting in a verdict against both appellants for the sum of $ 350. Motions for a new trial were interposed by each of the appellants, and the court, of its own motion, ordered that a new trial should be granted unless the respondents should, within two weeks, file a written remittance and waiver of $ 150 of the amount of the verdict, and that upon the filing of such remittance and waiver the motions for [***6]  new trial should be denied, and respondents given judgment for $ 200 and costs. Thereafter such remittance was filed, the motions for new trial were denied, and judgment was entered against both appellants for said sum and costs. From said judgment both defendants have appealed.

It is assigned as error that the court overruled the demurrers to the complaint. It is urged that the complaint does not state a cause of action for the recovery of real property, for forcible entry or forcible detainer, to quiet title, for the collection of rent, for waste, trespass, or nuisance, or upon a contract for sale or purchase, and, in short, that no cause of action whatever is stated. While the action may not come strictly within any of the classifications above, yet we think a ground of recovery is sufficiently stated. The respondents do not question the right  [*349]  of appellants, in the quick exercise of their extraordinary powers in relation to the preservation of the public health, to seize and use the property for the purpose for which it was used; but they claim that by such use appellants became indebted to them, and they have alleged the amount of such indebtedness [***7]  to be the full value of the property, evidently upon the theory that by such use the marketable value of the property was destroyed. Whether such theory is correct or not, we think sufficient is shown to enable respondents to recover the actual value of the use of the property for that particular purpose, and that the demurrers were properly overruled.

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28 Wash. 345 *; 68 P. 872 **; 1902 Wash. LEXIS 492 ***

J. A. BROWN et al., Respondents, v. COUNTY OF PIERCE et al., Appellants

Prior History:  [***1]  Appeal from Superior Court, Pierce County. -- Hon. THOMAS CARROLL, Judge.

Disposition: Affirmed.


health officer, patients, new trial, afterwards, assigned

Governments, Local Governments, Duties & Powers, Legislation, Interpretation, State & Territorial Governments, Employees & Officials