SULLIVAN, V. ANDOL
'fOircuiteUourt. D. Maryland.
April 5. 1881.)
Held, under the fllcts of the case, that the complainants had not lost their right to relief by delay.
·. DECEDENT'S EsTATE-ADMINISTRATION-PARTIES TO PROCEEDINGS-
Held, that the children of a brother of the intestate, who died aftel the intestate, could sue as complainants, and that administration'could he taken, after the fund Bought to be recovered. was brought· into court.
6. LUNATIC-FuND IN HANDll OF COMMITTEE-JURISDICTION.
Held, that the fund in the hands of the committee was not in the custody"and possession of the court which appointed him in sudq sense that no other court could adjudicate with regard to the title to it.
In Equity. Before BOND, and v.6,no.7-41
Willoughby N.S11I.ith, Robert G. Keene, Johrt Henry Keene, Jr., and Archiba,li Stirling, Jr., for complainants. J. T. Mason, R., and S. T. Wallis, for defendants. MORRIS, D. J. This is a bill in equity filed by certain aliena'i ,residing in Ireland, claiming to be the next of kin of Edward Sullivan, deeeased, late of the city of ,St. Louis, in state of entitled to his personal estate, charging that money obtained by certain of the defendants in a distribution Of, his personal estate heretofore madeby the probate courtfor the city of St. Louis were obtaipedby fraud.pract,icedupon that court, and praying for a decree setting aside that distribution and compelling the defendants to bring into this court the money received by them,to the end that the complainants may receive what they claim 1;lelongs t.othem. It appears;that in 1866 Edward Sullivan died in St. Louis, unmarried and intestate. He was found dead in his· room, a.nd the coroner was' 'about to. have his body interred at the public expense, when it was discovered, through John Maquire, an agent who had been employed by him in the management of his property, that he was a person of considerable fortune.. Maguire ,was subsequently appointed, by the probate court of St. Louis, his administrator, settled his debts and funeral expenses, and distributed the residue of hia personal estate under orders of that court. To procure that distribution, a certain Henry Murta, (now dead,) then residing in the state of Pennsylvania, filed in said probate court his affidavit, dated January 30, 1869, in 1Vhich he swore that he was a second cousin of the deceased; .that the intestate had come to this country from Ireland, and never had a brother, and had had but one sister, who had died in Ireland, at the age of 45 years, unmarried; that the father, mother, grandfather and grandmother, uncles and . aunts of the intestate had long been deed; that the only one of his uncles or aunts who had left descendants was an uncle named Matthew Andoe; that the only child of this Matthew Andoe living at the death of -the intestate was a certain Rosanna Andoe, a lunatic, then about 65 years of
age, and an inmate of Mount Hope insane asylj.J):ll, near the city of Baltimore, in the state of Maryland; that said lunatio had had a sister, Aim Andoe, who had married, in Ireland, a certain John Murta; and that he, the affiant, . (Henry Murta,) was their son; that there had been pther children of said marriage besides himself, but that none of them were ever married, and all but himself were dead at the date of the death of the intestate, except,perhaps, a brother of the affiant, named Matthew Murta, who went to Australia in poor health, in 1858, and ,who .had not been heard from since 1858, when he had written to affiant, at Pittsburgh, that he was going from Australia to South America on account of his ill health, wherefi,ffiant believed he had died; that affiant had had a cousin named Eliza Murta, who was last· heard from in 1858, when she left Darlington, in the state of Pennsylvania, and had not since been heard from; that said Rosanna Andoe (the lunatic) and himself (the affiant) were the only living persons entitled to share in the distribution of the intestate's estate, unless the said Matthew Murta and Eliza Murta were living. Two other affidavits only were filed. One James Creamer, who had known Henry Murta and his family in Ireland, made affidavit that he. the affiant, had come to this country about 19 years before, and that he believed that Henry Murta was the only living child of his parents, and that there were no desoendants of any other, and that he had never heard of any relatives of the intestate except Rosanna Andoe and the said Henry Murta. One David D. Lynch made affidavit that he knew the Murta family in his boyhood in Ireland; that from what he knew he believed Henry Murta's parents were dead, and all his brothers and sisters had died without living descendants, and that said Henry Murta and the said Rosanna Andoe were the only living relatives of the intestate. Upon these three affidavits, presented to the court by counsel, representing Henry Murta and Rosanna Andoe, a partial distribution of the personal estate was m!tde by the administrator on February 6, 1869, under order of the court, and
64:4 $3,000 was paid to the committee of Rosanna. Andoe and the like sum to Henry Murta. Shortly after this it appears that the widow of Edward Murta, a brother of the above-named affiant Henry Murta, saw in. a newspaper some mention of this distribution, and she immediately caused affidavits of numerous witnesses to be filed in said probate court, establishing the fact that her husband, who had died in 1865, was a brother of Henry Murta; that she had been married to him in Pittsburgh in 1850, and that they had lived there continuously, and had four children who were living. It appeared from the affidavits that Henry Murta, whose residence had been in Pittsburgh and St. Louis, and who, in his affidavit, had failed to mention this brother or his chilo dren, had from time to time lived in the saIne house with them in Pittsburgh, and a physician made affidavit that in December, 1859, he had attended Henry Murta during an illness at Edward Murta's house. Upon the showing made by these affidavits the children of Edward Murta were admitted without opposition to share in the estate, and a further distribution was made of $4,000 each to Henry Murta and the committee of Rosanna Andoe, and $1,750 to each of the four children of Edward Murta. These sums were paid by the administrator under an order of the court, dated four. teenth of June, 1869. On the twenty-seventh of September, 1869, there was a final settlement by the administrator, in which the committee of Rosanna Andoe received the further sum of $5,069.65. The present suit was instituted in January, 1879, by Emily Sullivan, claiming to be a sister of the intestate, and by the son and daughter of John Sullivan, deceased, alleged to have been a brother of the intestate. These complainants claim that they are the persons 'and the only persons who, as his next of kin, had any right to the intestate's personal estate. The defendants in this suit are Rosanna Andoe, the lunatic; John T. Mason, R, her present committee; Elder, a former committee; Merryman, administrator of Scott, a deceased committee; the executor of Henry Murta, who is now
SULLIVAN V. ANDOE.
dead; the four children of Edward Murta, and their guardian; and Maguire, the administrator of Edward Sullivan. The only defendants who-have been summoned are Rosanna Andoe and Mason, her present 'committee; Elder, her former committee; and Merryman, the administrator 6f the decea.sed committee. .The other defendants are now residents of this district, and have not been summontld, nor have they appeared 01' answered. The proof which the complainants have produced convincingly establishes the relationship claimed by them to the intestate, Edward Sullivan. The family history of the tate, and of his fi"e brothers and one sister, is clearly proved by the testimony of numerous witnesses examined under a commission sent to Ireland, and they are corroborated in many essentials by the -production of a copy of the will of the mother of the intestate, dated in 1838, in which the intestate is men:ioned by name, and described as residing in Pittsburgh, in America, and the testator's nephew, John Andoe, is also mentioned as residing at Pittsburgh. Special provision is made for the support of the testator's only danghter, the complainant Emily Sullivan, who was then and now is both deaf and dumb; and the other sons of the testatrix, brothers of the intestate, are also mentioned. It also clearly appears, we think, from the proof, that Henry Murta, in the affidavit' he made on the thirtieth of January, 1869, to procure the distribution ordered by the probate court of St. Louis, was guiity' of many false statements and suppressions of the truth. It 'Was not true, to begin "ith, that Matthew Andoe, his maternal grandfather, through. whom '.:1e traced his relationship to the intesta.te, was the intestate's uncle, as he alleged. It was true, however, that his maternal grandmother was auaunt of the intestate. It was not true that his own mother, through whom he traced his kinship, was dead. She was then living in Ireland, and did not die until 1874, and letters had been received by her.from him in 1866. The account he gave of the death of his own brothers and sisters was not true. Several of them were then living in Ireland, and also quite a number of his cousins, who
were as nearly related· to the intestate as himself. He had himself been to Ireland on a visit in 1851 or 1852, and quite a number of the witnesses examined under the Irish com· mission say they then saw and talked with him. These were persona familiar with the family history of the intestate, and of the complainants' relationship to him. It appears further that he could not possibly have been ignorant of the existence of the children of his brother Edward, who were all living in Pittsburgh; and upon them coming forward and making claim, their rights were at once recognized without opposition from him. The falsity of his affidavit with regard to his own immediate family and relatives; swearing as he did to the death or non-existence of persop.s he well knew, and had no reason to suppose to be dead, lead to the conclusion, when considered in connection with his opportunities of knowledge, that when he undertook to swear that the intestate never had had a brother, and never had but one sister, and that she had died unmarried, he either swore to matters of which he had no knowledge or information whatever, or, as seems more probable, he was suppressing information which he had or could easily have obtained, and that he did so to deceive the probate court and procure the distribution in his favor. The fact that Edward Sullivan, the intestate, was living at Pittsburgh, in America, and that he was a wealthy man, was known to persons with whom the affiant talked during his visit to Ireland in 1851 or 1852, and they knew that he came from the same city in the United States in which the intestate resided, and they knew of the existence of the complainants, and of their relationship to the intestate, and it is highly improbable that h.e could, after talking with them, have remained ignorant of the existence of the complainants. Another circumstance which throws light on his attitude towards this large estate, and his want of confidence in his claim to share in it, is the fact that it appears that he had made a contract with the attorneys who represented him in the dis- . tribution by which they were to receive one-half of all they obtained for him.
We are satisfied that the complainants· have established their kinship to the intestate j and their right to be 'recognized as entitled to his personal estate, and that ,the persons to whom it was distributed had \1l0 tight whatever to it,and that the distribution made was procured by fraud practiged upon thepl'obate Murta, one of the distribute£s. Finding the equity of the case to be .with the com'plainants, it remains to examine the objections of a technical character to granting them relief which have been ably urged by cou,illel who have appeared 'on behalf of the committee of the lunatic and zealously represented her rights. The jurisdiction Of this court, sitting in equity, to grant relief in cases where there has been'fraud in obtaining judgments or decrees in othe'reourts, where' the fraud is clearly proved, is not seriously questioned, and we take it to be fully established. Gould v. Gould,3Story, 516; Story's Equity, 252a. The committee of the lunatic was represented in the dIstribution by the same couDselwhorepr6sented Henry Murta, and her claim rested entirely on the affidavits hereinbefore mentioned, which were :filed on his behalf; so that, although her committee, and of course' she herself, were in one sense innocent of participation in misleading the probate' conrt, they reaped the fruits of Henry Murta's conduct, and have no better title to the money distributed to her than he had to 'the sums which he obtained. ' The points principally relied upon by counsel for the committee are as follows: First. It is objected that Rosanna Andoe,the lunatic, has not been summoned. Process was prayed against her, and also against her duly-appointed committee, who is acting for her. The subpcena against her was returned served by service op. her committee. Her committee, although not answering in her name, has answered fully in his character of. committee, and has presented every defence which he could have presented if answering in her name, and he has stubbornly reaisted the pretensions of the complainants, and has been assisted by able counsel in defending his rights.
This he has done under the sanction of the state court which -appointed him, and the has been by order of that court paid out of the lunatic's estate. The lunatic herself is and has been for some 30 ·years an inmate of an asylum in this district, and service of process on her personally would have availed nothing. It would have been more regular to have applied to this court to appoint one to answer and defend the snit for her, in accordance with 'the eighty-setenth equity rule; but, unquestionably in this case, the court would have appointed her present committee, and the very same answer would have been filed. If there wa.s any reason to suspect that the committee who has defended her interest· had not done his whole duty, or had any interest opposed to hers, the court would not be slow to require a separate answer to be filed on her behalf by some one specially appointed to defend her; but to do so in this case would be to do an uttedy nugatory act in a case in which the point is now for. the first time raised on final hearing, after taking testimony on both sides for two years at great expense. It seems to us proper in this case that the answer filed by her committee should be treated and taken as the answer of the lunatic. Second. It is urged that the complainants are barred of their relief by limitations, lapse of time, laches, and delay in filing their hill. What will constitute such a bar as to a claim purely equitable must depend upon the facts and circumsta,nces of each case. 1 Story's Equity, 64a; Hanson v. Worthington, 12 Md. 441 j Syester v. Brewer, 27 Md. BIg; Etting v. Marx, 4 FED. REP. 673. It is to be noticed that the complainants are aliens residing in Ireland j that one of them is a person deaf and dumb from her youth.. So far as we can gather from the record it d013s not appear that any notice was published, pending the . administration in the probate court, warning the next of kin afthe intestate to appear as claimants of the estate. They first obtained knowledge of the death of the intestate in 1874. In 1876 they filed a bill in one of the courts of St. Louis to
Fourth. Another defence set up is that the fund sought to be affected by a decree in this case is in the possession and control of circuit court of Baltimore city, which appointed the committee of the lunatic, and that, therefore, every other court is excluded from adjudicating any question with regard to it. Rosanna Andoe was found in 1869 to be, of unsound mind, under a writ de lunatico inquirendo, issued by the circuit court of Baltimore city, and, upon the ratification of the return of the writ, that court, exercising equity jurisdiction, appointed two persons committee of her person and estate. The fund now sought ,to be reached was paid to them by the administrator of Edward Sullivan, the intestate, and has been invested and held ever since, first by the committee so appoiJ;lted, ,and subsequently by the present committee, who succeeded them in that office. 'Whatever that court as a court of equity, upon a proper bill filed therein, or any other court of equity, could decree with respect to the ownership of that fund, this court, having all the equity jurisdiction that appertains to any court, can in like manner decree. Payne v. Hook, 7 Wall. 430. The complaina;nts might have filed their bill for relief in the court which appointed the committee, but they were under no obligation to do so, because, being aliens, the constitution and laws of the United States have given them the right to choose the federal court. We do not think the proposition can be maintained that l!roperty held by 11 committee of a lunatic is to be considered in the custody and possession of the court which appointed him. and to which he is accountable for its management, in such sense th3t no other court can adjudicate with regard to the title to it, or any trust ,to which it may be subject. The l.1just results of such a doctrine are obvious and at once suggest themselves. The power to appoint such a committee might, by the legislature, be conferred upon any court, of the state, and should the committee so appointed obtain possession, by color of his office, of any property, real or personal, belonging, the, true owner could not no matter to reCQver it except by petition to, that court; and, no matter how deficient that court might be in jurisdiction or machinery to
KNEVALS ·V.· HYDE.
try the, question of title, it could not be tried' elsewhere exoept by the allowance' and permission of that court. . The lU,natio and her oommittee are both parties to this case ; .the committee has defended it on her behalf, with the sanction of the state court whioh appointed him, and they are both bound by any deoree passed herein, and we think the fruits of that decree should be realized without special diffioulty. In our judgment the oomplainants have shown themselves to be entitled to the relief prayed for, and we will sign a deoree in proper form establishing their rights, and direoting .that the fund' affected by the decree be brought into this c01;1rt for the benefit of the parties entitled to it.
(Circuit Oourt, D. Nelnaska. 1.
CoNGRESS, JULY 23, 1866-BoNA }'IDE PURCHASER. Under the act of congress of JUly 23, 1866, the equitable ownership of the land vested in St.Joseph & Denver Qity Railroad Companv ,upon filing the map of the,location of the road with the secretary: of the interior, and a patent thereafter iss,ued bythe United ferred no title' on a bona .fidBpurchaser without notice of the locaiion of the road. DECLARE FOR1l'EITUItE. The right .to declare a forfeiture of the land for breacb, of condition by the company. and resul:\l,e the grant, belongs the United States, and cannot be taken advantage of by such purchaser.
In Equity. Demurrer to Original Bill. . In 1866 congress made a grant of hind to the state of Kansas to aid in the constructionol the St. Joseph & Denver City Railroad, which road was to run from Elwood, in Kansas, via Maryville, to a junction with the Union Pacific Railroad; or any branchthereot In pursuance of the terms of the grant the company filed a map of its line with the secretary of the interior on the twenty-eighth of March, '1870.' This map was transmitted to the localland·offioe at Beatrice, where it was . received on the thirteenth of April following. On the elev-