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Hudson County National Bank v. City of Bayonne Lucius F. Donohue

Decided: August 14, 1934.

HUDSON COUNTY NATIONAL BANK, AS ASSIGNEE OF EDWARD P. STOUT, RELATOR,
v.
CITY OF BAYONNE LUCIUS F. DONOHUE, MAYOR, BERT DALY, DENNIS O'LEARY, JAMES J. DONOVAN AND JEROME J. BRADY, MEMBERS OF THE BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS OF THE CITY OF BAYONNE, COUNTY OF HUDSON, RESPONDENTS



On mandamus. On relator's rule to show cause why a peremptory or alternative writ of mandamus should not be issued commanding and enjoining respondents to pay or cause to be paid unto relator, as assignee of Edward P. Stout, $24,000 in payment of the claims of said Stout for professional services rendered for respondents, with lawful interest thereon.

For the relator, Benny & Cruden.

For the respondents, Alfred Brenner.

Before Justices Trenchard, Heher and Perskie.

Perskie

The opinion of the court was delivered by

PERSKIE, J. Relator's statement of facts, conceded by respondents to be substantially correct, are as follows: On July 1st, 1930, Edward P. Stout, an attorney and counselor-at-law of the State of New Jersey, by reason of his experience in railroad tax litigation and his special knowledge of the law in respect to valuing and appraising railroad property was, by resolution, at the instance of the commissioner of revenue and finance of the city of Bayonne (with the consent of its solicitor) deputized, as special attorney-general, by the attorney-general of the State of New Jersey, to attend the meetings and represent the city's interest at the hearings before the state board of taxes and assessment on complaints of the attorney-general, that, for the year 1930, the properties of the Central Railroad Company of New Jersey, Lehigh Valley Railroad Company of New Jersey, East Jersey Railroad and Terminal Company and Pennsylvania Railroad Company, used for railroad purposes (including first and second class railroad properties) situate in the taxing district of the city of Bayonne, were assessed far below their true value and to have the state board of taxes and assessment review the assessments and correct them.

Respondents agreed to pay Stout a just compensation for his services. Stout performed the undertaking on his part.

Thereafter, he rendered itemized bills on March 18th, 1932, for the work done in each case. They totaled $24,000. No question is raised as to services rendered or the reasonableness of the charges made. His services were productive of substantial results for the city. On April 19th, 1932, Stout personally appeared before the commissioners and again demanded payment. The mayor, in answer to a question of Commissioner Daly, stated that the reason the bill was not paid was that the city did not have the funds with which to pay it. Whereupon, on April 19th, 1932, a resolution was adopted that the bill should be paid as soon as funds were available.

On January 11th, 1933, Stout assigned this claim to the Hudson County National Bank to further secure certain of his loans with that institution.

Annually, in 1932, 1933 and 1934, the city in its tax ordinances for said years provided for this item.

On February 10th, 1934, the commissioners of the city passed a resolution that a warrant be ordered drawn to the order of Stout and Hudson County National Bank in payment of the $24,000.

The procedure for the payment of an approved bill in the city of Bayonne appears to be as follows: A warrant for the bill is, in the first instance, drawn and signed by the city clerk; then it is signed by the city comptroller; then by the ...


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