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The litigations relating to the revenues of the State continue to be of much importance.
The constitutionality of the so-called Mortgage Tax Law (since repealed by the so-called Recording Tax Law), and the Stock Transfer Tax Law have been upheld by the Court of Appeals.
People ex rel. Eismann vs. Ronner, 185 N. Y. 285.
People ex rel. Hatch vs. Reardon, 184 N. Y. 431. The above case of People ex rel. Hatch vs. Reardon was argued before the Supreme Court of the United States December 11 and 12, 1906, and by the time this report will be published no doubt the Supreme Court will have decided this case.
A series of cases (five in all), involving certain questions as to the taxability of rolling stock of the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad Company were carried to the Supreme Court of the United States and decided in favor of the State.
People ex rel. N. Y. C. & H. R. R. R. Co. vs. Miller,
Comptroller, 202 U. S. 584.
Comptroller, 202 U. S. 584. The Appellate Division has decided favorably to the State the questions arising under the law relating to the taxation of insurence premiums.
People ex rel. Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Co.
vs. Kelsey, Comptroller. (Not yet reported.) People ex rel. Travellers Insurance Co. vs. Kelsey,
Comptroller. (Not yet reported.)
Other cases sustaining previous decisions or passing upon de tailed interpretations of the tax laws, are to be found in the list of cases attached to this report.
SPECIAL FRANCHISE TAX LITIGATION.
I referred in my report of 1905 to the policy of this office in dealing with this very important branch of work.
During the year 1906, 213 certiorari proceedings were instituted and 256 were disposed of; 436 were pending in contested litigations and 147 were otherwise awaiting final adjustment.
The total assessed valuations of the special franchises in the cases thus finally disposed of during 1906 aggregate $378,813,807.
The titles of this very considerable number of proceedings will be found set forth in an appropriate schedule hereto annexed.
On the first of January, 1905, there were pending and undisposed of 2,777 claims, aggregating - exclusive of interest claimed thereon — $5,407,204.04. During the year 1905 there were 291 new claims filed, representing $693,365.97. During the year 1906 there have been filed (including Barge canal claims), 562 new claims, aggregating $1,235,970.56, making the total claims pending at the beginning, and during my term 2,223, representing, exclusive of interest thereon, $4,171,233.48.
The number of claims tried and otherwise disposed of during the year 1905 was 550, which aggregated exclusive of interest $1,141,919.76. The number tried or otherwise disposed of in 1906 is 354, representing, exclusive of interest, $1,376,406. The total number tried or otherwise disposed of during my term is 894, representing, exclusive of interest on claims, $2,518,325. The number of claims disposed of during my term in excess of thə number filed during the same time is 150, and this, notwithstanding the fact that barge canal claims have been coming in during 1905 and 1906, while none came in before 1905. The amount of the claims disposed of during my term exceeds the amount of the claims filed during the same period by the sum of $601,288.40.
The claims disposed of during 1905 amounted exclusive of intereet thereon to $1,141,919.76, upon which claims judgments were awarded against the State for but $135,568.80. The amount of claims disposed of during 1906 was $1,376.406, upon which claims judgments were awarded in favor of the claimants for $226,582, making the total amount of claims disposed of by trial or otherwise $2,518,325 and the amount of the judgments awarded thereon $352,150, or about 14 per cent. of the amounts claimed exclusive of interest on claims.*
During the year the more important canal claims disposed of were the so-called 12-Mile level flood cases aggregating about $75,000 and the Chuctanunda Creek flood cases which amounted to about $25,000. In addition to these, the Rochester IIospital case involving about $185,000, has been tried and disposed of. Also the so-called Park Avenue cases in New York City which involved about $725,000 exclusive of interest. After a part of these latter cases had been tried before the Court of Claims and decided, nearly all of the remaining cases was settled very advantageously to the State with the able assistance of Mr. Alexander S. Lyman, of New York City, special counsel. The total amount of the Park Avenue judgments against the State will probably not exceed $70,000.
* For specific figures, see page 48.
Two important decisions have been secured in behalf of the State in cases decided this year by the Appellate Division of the Third Department, wherein the contention in behalf of the State was upheld. In the Carhart case the doctrine that where a joini flood is created by the addition of canal water to a flooded and overflowing natural stream, the State is not liable for a greater share of the damages caused by such flood, than it contributed to the flood waters. In the Atkinson case the proposition is established that whenever the canal water is discharged from its spillways and gates in the canal aqueducts and waste-weirs, the State is not liable for damages to property flooded by canal waters so discharged, unless the State is guilty of negligence in the way in which it discharges the same. The decision did not wholly uphold the position of the State, which was that the State having appropriated the channels and valleys into which such canal water is discharged for tail-race purposes 75 years ago, it has the right to discharge canal water into the same without being responsible to any one for the damages done to the property of any one who plants or places their property within reach of the waters thus discharged from such spillways and gates. To have this latter proposition further considered by the Court, an appeal has been taken to the Court of Appeals.
Several large Barge Canal claims have been tried out before the Court of Claims, and the award to the claimants has been less than fifty per cent. of the amount of their claims.
The total number of actions brought by the State to
enforce agricultural and pure food laws during 1906 has been
The State has been successful by settlement or judgment in
pliance with statute, death of defendant, etc........
Judgments against the People in cases throughout the State have been rendered in only eleven actions, some of which are now on appeal.
The most important litigation of the year was that of the case of People 1. Frederick St. John, 201 U. S. 633. This litigation involved the constitutionality of section 12 of the Agricultural Law and was vigorously contested through the Appellate Courts of the State and carried to the United States Supreme Court by the defendant, where the State was successful and the judgment of the trial term, which had been affirmed by the appellate courts of the State, was also affirmed by the United States Supreme Court and the constitutionality of the section upheld.
It has been the endeavor of this office to prosecute promptly violations of the Agricultural Law and the results obtained during the past year have been most encouraging. The amount of penalties recovered through disposition of violations. of the Agricultural Law exceeds the receipts of any former year and is almost three times the amount appropriated to conduct