22 S.W. 895 (Mo. 1893), Cutler v. Zollinger

Citation:22 S.W. 895, 117 Mo. 92
Opinion Judge:Black, P. J.
Party Name:Cutler, Appellant, v. Zollinger
Attorney:Edmond A. B. Garesche for appellant. L. A. Steber for respondent.
Case Date:June 19, 1893
Court:Supreme Court of Missouri

Page 895

22 S.W. 895 (Mo. 1893)

117 Mo. 92

Cutler, Appellant,



Supreme Court of Missouri, First Division

June 19, 1893

Appeal from St. Louis City Circuit Court. -- Hon. L. B. Valliant, Judge.


Edmond A. B. Garesche for appellant.

(1) It is a fundamental principle that they who have no mind "cannot agree in mind" with another, and as this is the essence of a contract, they cannot enter into a contract. Parsons on Contracts [7 Ed.], sec. 383. (2) If a person therefore enters into a contract while deprived of reason, and afterwards recovers his reason, he may repudiate that contract. Hovey v. Hobson, 53 Me. 451; Parsons on Contracts [7 Ed.], sec. 384; Turner v. Rusk, 53 Md. 65; 2 American and English Encyclopedia of Law, page 149; Kerwin v. Ins. Co., 25 F. 692. (3) And it is no answer that the sane party, when contracting, was not apprised of the other's insanity and did not suspect it, and did not overreach such insane person, or practice any fraud or unfairness on him. Seaver v. Phelps, 11 Pick. 304; Folsom's Adm'r v. Garner, 15 Mo. 496. (4) And while the deed of an insane person may be unaffirmed without returning the purchase money (Halley v. Troester, 72 Mo. 73; Bringham v. Fayerweather, 144 Mass. 48; Chanyler v. Simmons, 97 Mass. 408), yet we do not ask any such decree in this case. (5) The evidence in this case established, not only affirmatively, but conclusively, that the appellant was not in her right mind when she executed and delivered to respondent the conveyance in controversy. That on the contrary she was suffering with melancholia, with delusions, and that her act in conveying this property was directly connected with those delusions. (6) The evidence offered by appellant, both expert and non-expert testimony, overwhelmingly established the fact that she was suffering from monomania for a long time prior to the execution of the deed; manifested to those in attendance upon her frequent and irrefragable proof that she was suffering from delusions inseparably connected with this transaction prior to and on the very day of the conveyance, and also for a long time subsequently, when at last her condition became so serious as to necessitate her being placed in an asylum for the insane for treatment. (7) While the burden of proof, when the issue is upon a contract, rests upon the party disputing sanity (Farrell v. Bremen, 32 Mo. 328; State v. Smith, 53 Mo. 267) yet the proof of a single act manifesting insanity is of far more convincing weight to establish mental disease than any number of interviews and observations in which no such manifestations of insanity occur. For it is a fact of universal knowledge that the most confirmed lunatics in many cases impose upon intelligent people impressions of their perfect sanity, and this oftenest occurs with monomaniacs. Bishop v. Hunt, 24 Mo.App. 373. Mad men may show more sense at times than ordinary individuals. Ray's Medical Jurisprudence of Insanity, sec. 409.

L. A. Steber for respondent.

(1) If Mrs. Cutler was insane when she sold the property or made the deed, by what remarkable process did she become sane, when she sent Mrs. Rattigan to defendant, to get back the property? (2) Mrs. Cutler's reasons for selling, first, dampness of the house; second, rheumatism; third, if place could be sold, she wanted to go to the hospital for treatment; fourth, run out of money, and needed money to keep up her shares in the building association. (3) Plaintiff's allegation (see her petition) of conspiracy and fraud was not sustained. (4) If plaintiff ever became insane, she became so after the sale of the property. Her sanity was not questioned before the sale. (5) Delusions alone are not a legal test of insanity. Ins. Co. v. Broughton, 109 U.S. 121. (6) An insane person's contract made during a lucid interval is binding. McCormack v. Little, 85 Ill. 62. (7) It has always been held that where one has contracted in good faith, without notice of lunacy, equity will not rescind the contract on that ground. Heard v. Sack, 81 Mo. 610; Bank v. Moore, 78 Pa. St. 407, 414; Mathiessen v. McMahon, 38 N. J. Law, 536; Lincoln v. Buckmaster, 32 Vt. 652; Yauger v. Skinner, 14 N.J.Eq. (1 McCarter) 389; McCormack v. Little, 85 Ill. 62; Ins. Co. v. Hunt, 79 N.Y. 541. (8) One dealing with an insane person, and not knowing his condition, or any facts to...

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