192 F. 624 (D.N.H. 1911), 384, Foster-Eddy v. Baker

Docket Nº:384.
Citation:192 F. 624
Party Name:FOSTER-EDDY v. BAKER et al.
Case Date:December 09, 1911
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

Page 624

192 F. 624 (D.N.H. 1911)



BAKER et al.

No. 384.

United States Circuit Court, D. New Hampshire.

December 9, 1911

Page 625

Wm. E. Chandler, John W. Kelley, De Witt C. Howe, Hannis Taylor, Wm. L. Chambers, and John D. Long, for complainant.

Streeter, Demond & Woodworth, Samuel J. Elder, Wm. A. Morse, and Leon M. Abbott, for defendants.

ALDRICH, District Judge.

This is a bill in equity brought by Dr. E. J. foster-Eddy, an adopted son of Mary Baker G. Eddy, against Henry M. Baker, executor of the will of Mary Baker G. Eddy, late of Concord, N.H., who was founder of the Christian Science Church, and Josiah E. Fernald, Archibald McClellan, and Adam H. Dickey, as trustees under a certain deed of trust, and Stephen A. Chase, Archibald McClellan, Allison V. Stewart, John V. Dittemore, and Adam H. Dickey, as members of the Christian Science Board of Directors of the Mother Church, the First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Mass.

The present hearing has been upon questions raised by the pleadings, and the pleadings thus far consist of an original bill filed January 13, 1911, a demurrer filed April 17, 1911, an amendment to the bill filed and allowed May 2, 1911, a demurrer or demurrers to the bill as amended filed July 1, 1911, a proposed further amendment filed August 29, 1911, not yet allowed, and an interlocutory motion by the defendants asking that the question whether the plaintiff has a right to enter upon legal controversy in respect to the estate, in which it is alleged he has relinquished his entire interest, be determined as a preliminary question.

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The demurrer or demurrers are general, with some features of special demurrer, suggesting special grounds to be considered and determined in the event of the general demurrers not being accepted as stating a full and complete defense.

Although the arguments have taken very wide range, it must be understood at the outset that the hearing has been upon bill and demurrer only, and that the questions thus presented must be governed by the scope of such a hearing. For the purposes of such a hearing, and through a fiction of law universally accepted, a general demurrer admits all the material facts averred in a bill, including averments describing the phases and circumstances of the subject-matter put in controversy by the bill (American School of Magnetic Healing v. McAnnulty, 187 U.S. 94, 23 Sup.Ct. 33, 47 L.Ed. 90); and, whatever may have been the ancient practice, the modern trend of judicial decision is against the idea of attempting to settle substantive rights upon such a hearing, except in cases where the subject-matter in controversy is of such a nature as to make it clear that comprehensive and complete justice can be done in the narrow field presented by the allegations of the bill; and the rule governing modern procedure and practice goes unchallenged that ultimate rights will not be established upon bill and demurrer, unless it is clear upon the most favorable aspect of the admitted facts that no case is stated by the bill. Kansas v. Colorado, 185 U.S. 144, 22 Sup.Ct. 552, 46 L.Ed. 838.

I am strongly impressed with the conviction that the situation under consideration is one which falls far short of justifying an attempt to establish ultimate rights upon bill and demurrer. The arguments upon the alleged merits and demerits of the bill upon this hearing under a demurrer which, for the purposes of such a hearing, admits the truth of all that is alleged, at once present important and difficult questions of law and different understandings of the parties as to the substance and effect of the allegations of the bill in respect to law as well as fact.

In this case both parties claim they are entitled to final relief upon the pleadings as a result of this hearing; the position of the plaintiff being that as the demurrer admits the facts as alleged, and as the bill discloses teachings and doings manifestly contrary to the public policy of New Hampshire and that of Massachusetts, and a bequest which is at once void as against the public policy and the laws of these states, and as the release of the heir in question was, as alleged, procured through concealment and fraud, that a final decree for the plaintiff should follow. On the contrary, the defendants claim that a certain duly and solemnly executed deed of release with covenants, which is a part of the plaintiff's bill, operated to entirely extinguish the plaintiff's right to institute and maintain this proceeding, or any other, in respect to the will of Mrs. Eddy, and that, as the bill discloses no efficient grounds of fraud or of public policy, a final decree should be entered in their favor upon demurrer.

Neither view is so clearly established as to warrant a final disposition of the case at this stage of the proceeding.

Without going into all the particulars and all the allegations of the

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bill, the plaintiff, among other things, alleges that he is an heir of Mrs. Eddy, and that she had an estate of $2,000,000 or more, and admits that he executed an agreement whereby certain of his rights were surrendered, and makes the agreement a part of his bill.

The bill further sets out that the agreement in question, the object of which, it is alleged, was to prevent controversy as to the mental capacity and alleged delusions of Mrs. Eddy, would not have been executed by the plaintiff if he had known the contents of the will or any purpose on his mother's part to make an unlawful donation, and that he never would have agreed to any such plan if he had known it, and that all he agreed to was that in consideration of payments to himself she might, if she saw fit, dispose of the remainder of her...

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