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Opinion of the Court.

phia, imported into that port three cases of buttons, which were duly entered for warehouse, in bond, the proper bonds being given on each entry. On the 27th of July, and the 14th of August, 1886, respectively, the collector liquidated the duties on the entries, at the sum of $139.50, being at the rate of 45 per cent ad valorem as brass buttons, under section 6 of the act of March 3, 1883, which rate was in accordance with the instructions of the Treasury Department then in force. No protests were made by the plaintiffs against these liquidations, and no appeal was taken from those decisions of the collector. On November 6, December 4 and December 8, 1886, the plaintiffs withdrew the buttons from the warehouse for consumption. In the meantime, the Treasury Department had decided that the proper rate of duties on buttons of the character of those imported was but 25 per cent ad valorem, as buttons not specially enumerated or provided for. When the buttons were withdrawn from the warehouse for consumption, at the dates aforesaid, the plaintiffs were compelled to pay the duty as assessed and liquidated by the collector, to wit, $139.50. Within ten days from the date of such withdrawals, the plaintiffs protested against that exaction of duty, and afterwards appealed to the Secretary of the Treasury, who, on February 25, 1887, affirmed the collector's decision. This suit was brought on March 15, 1887. The amount of the duty exacted, over and above the amount claimed by the plaintiffs to be due, was $62.

The verdict concludes as follows: “And the said jurors say that they are ignorant, in point of law, on which side they ought, upon the facts, to find the issue; but that if the court should be of opinion that plaintiffs were obliged to protest against the liquidation made at the time of the entry of the goods for warehouse, in order to take advantage of the illegality of the exaction of the duties at the time of the entry for consumption, and application to withdraw from the warehouse, then they find for defendant; but that if the court should be of opinion that plaintiff's protest, made within ten days of the defendant's refusal to allow the goods to be withdrawn from the warehouse, except upon payment of the duties

Opinion of the Court.

in accordance with the liquidation made at the time of entry for warehouse, was in time, then they find for the plaintiffs in the sum of $62, with interest from December 8, 1886.” On this verdict the Circuit Court, on the 28th of October, 1887, entered a. judgment for $62 in favor of the plaintiffs, and the collector thereupon sued out this writ of error.

This case is similar in all essential features to Merritt v. Cameron, ante, 542, just decided, except that the proceedings in the custom-house in this case took place after May 2, 1885, when the Treasury Department adopted the rule that protests should be filed within ten days after the ascurtainment and liquidation of the duties; and we are not confronted, therefore, with a Treasury ruling at variance with the construction we have put upon section 2931 of the Revised Statutes. The protests in this case, as appears from the facts above set forth, were too late, and the decision of the collector upon the ascertainment and liquidation of the duties thus became final.

We do not think the change in the ruling of the Treasury Department, whereby merchandise such as is involved in this case was held dutiable at a greatly reduced rate, makes any material difference between this case and Merritt v. Cameron. On this point we are inclined to adopt the view of the Solicitor General that a decision by the Secretary, or by a court, reversing a previous erroneous ruling of the Department, is of no aid to an importer who has not duly protested against a similar ruling with respect to another importation. The judgment of the Circuit Court is reversed, and the cas

is remanded to that court, with a direction to set aside the verdict and grant a new trial.

Statement of the Case.



No. 97. Argued November 26, December 1, 1890.- Decided December 22, 1890.

The plaintiff, having averred in his complaint the execution of a deed by

him to his father, and having conceded its delivery, and there being no prayer for specific relief as to it, and no averments that would entitle him to have it set aside for want of acknowledgment under the prayer for general relief, he cannot set up that the deed is not operative, even as

between the parties, for want of proper acknowledgment and record. When a deed is void on its face the interference of a court of equity is

unnecessary. Where the difficulty of doing entire justice by reason of the death of the

principal witness or witnesses, or from the original transactions having become obscured by time, is attributable to gross negligence or deliberate delay, a court of equity will not aid a party whose application is

thus destitute of conscience, good faith and reasonable diligence. The mere assertion of a claim, unaccompanied by any act to give effect to

it, cannot avail to keep alive a right which would otherwise be precluded. Negotiations for settlement of a disputed matter, which one party hopes

may result in a settlement and adjustment, do not operate to bar in equity the defence of laches, when the other party gives no encouragement, to such hopes, never promises a settlement, never concedes that his own

claims are doubtful, and never recognizes the other's claims. The bill in this case alleged that in a suit in equity in the Supreme Court of

the District of Columbia in which the plaintiff here was defendant, the conveyance under which the plaintiff in this suit claims had been decreed to be invalid, from which decree the plaintiffs in that suit had appealed as to other matters involved; and it set up the pendency of that suit as excuse for the delay of nineteen years in bringing this one. Held, (1) That, the plaintiff not having appealed, it was difficult to see why

that decree was not a bar in this suit; (2) That it furnished no satisfactory explanation of his laches herein.

BROOKE MACKALL, JR., filed his bill of complaint in the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia on the first day of June, 1885, against George W. Casilear and wife; Leonard Mackall and wife; Don Barton Mackall, Benjamin Mackall; Louise Owens and husband ; Catherine Christy and husband; Edmund Brand and Mary E. Keller; alleging that Leonard, Don Barton and Benjamin were his brothers, and Louise

Statement of the Case.

Owens and Catherine Christy his sisters, all being the sole surviving children of Brooke Mackall, Sr., and Martha Mackall, his wife; and that Edmund Brand and Mary E. Keller were the sole surviving children of Louis Brand.

The bill then stated : That on or about December 21, 1863, complainant became owner in fee simple, through a conveyance to him from Charles W. Pairo, George Randolph, executor, and Brooke Mackall, Sr., of lots in the city of Washington, D.C., as follows:

Lot 2, square 5 ; lots 3 and 7, square 17; lot 3, square 31; lot 15, square 41; lot 2, square 42; lot 5, square 43; lot 12, square 56; lot 10, square 62; lots 13, 14 and 17, square 76; and a copy of the deed was annexed. That on or about May 5, 1866, complainant executed his promissory notes to the order of his father, and a deed of trust to said Brooke Mackall, Sr., as trustee, which deed was acknowledged before the latter as notary public, upon lot 2, square 5; two parts of lot 12, square 56; and lots 14, 17 and part of 13, square 76, which was recorded June 5, 1867, and a copy whereof was annexed; that there was no consideration for these notes, but they were made for the accommodation of complainant's father for the purpose of borrowing money for the benefit of both, but no money was borrowed, and it was not intended that any claim on the notes should be set up against the complainant, and there was no default in the payment of the same; that about seven years after, a variance occurring between complainant and his father, his father, having possession of the notes, without complainant's knowledge or consent, advertised said property for sale, except one subdivision of lots 13 and 14, square 76, which had in the meantime been otherwise disposed of by complainant; that the advertisement (a copy of which was annexed) was published only on three successive days, though the trust deed required a publication of sixty days; that it was intended that the sale should be kept concealed from complainant, and it was not held on the premises, but at the rooms of the auctioneer; that no bidders were present, and at the instance of his father the property was struck off nominally to one Joseph B. Hill, but really for the benefit of com

Statement of the Case.

plainant's father, no money being ever paid by Hill, and name being used that it might not appear that the trustee was a purchaser at his own sale; that this was a scheme devised by the father to divest the son of his property and obtain it himself without paying anything whatever for it; that in pursuance of such scheme, a deed (a.copy of which was annexed) was executed by Brooke Mackall, Sr., as trustee, to Hill, for the nominal consideration of $2000, though Hill paid nothing; and complainant charged that the deed was void and of no effect. This deed was dated June 26, and recorded July 2, 1873..

The hill further averred that on or about March 13, 1867, complainant conveyed to one Morsell (a copy of which deed was attached) lot 15, square 41, and lot 5, square 43, in trust to secure complainant's promissory note for $1000, payable one year after date, to the order of his father, which note was indorsed over to Mills and wife, and was paid in full and so admitted to be paid by a deed conveying the same property, dated July 14, 1868, by Morsell, Mills and wife, and complainant to Louis Brand to secure in trust complainant's promissory note for $2000, payable to his father's order one year after date (a copy of which instrument was attached); that the $2000 note was an accommodation note and made to raise money for the common benefit of both parties, but no money was raised, and there was no consideration for the note; that about five years thereafter, there occurring a variance between father and son, the father, in pursuance of a similar scheme as that charged as to the other parcels, procured Brand to advertise the property for sale, and though publication for three weeks was required, the advertisement was published only four times successively, and for three days; that this was without the consent or knowledge of complainant, and without written request as prescribed, and the place of sale was at the private rooms of the auctioneer; that there were no bidders at the sale, but at the request of Brooke Mackall, Sr., lot 15, square 41, and sublots 2, 3, 4 and 5, lot 5, square 43, were struck off to Hill at the nominal sum of $2000, he paying no money, and Brooke Mackall, Sr., being the real purchaser, and

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