3 Me. 243 (Me. 1825), Anderson v. Brock

Citation:3 Me. 243
Opinion Judge:WESTON, J.,
Party Name:ANDERSON & AL. v. BROCK
Attorney:Shepley, for the defendant, J. Holmes and Goodenow for the plaintiffs.
Case Date:April 01, 1825
Court:Supreme Judicial Court of Maine

Page 243

3 Me. 243 (Me. 1825)




Supreme Judicial Court of Maine, York

April, 1825

Page 244

[Syllabus Material]

Page 245

THIS was an action of trespass for breaking the close of the plaintiffs, who styled themselves, in the original writ, " John Anderson and Isaac Bracket, both of Alfred, yeomen." After the cause came into this Court, the plaintiffs moved for leave to amend their writ, by adding that they sued " as deacons and overseers of the society of shakers in said Alfred," which was granted, though objected to by the defendant.

At the trial, which was before the Chief Justice, upon the plea of soil and freehold in the defendant, the plaintiffs offered as witnesses certain members of the same society of shakers of which they were deacons; to whose admission the defendant objected, on the ground of their alleged interest in the event of the suit, it being one of the articles of their association that " the members should possess one joint interest" in all the temporalities of the church, and should be equally entitled to the use of the common property according to their several necessities; --but upon the witnesses executing in Court a release to the plaintiffs of all their interest in this action, and in the damages which might be recovered in it, and the plaintiffs executing to them a release from all obligation to pay any costs which the defendants might recover against the plaintiffs in this action; --they were admitted to testify.

The plaintiffs then read a deed from Barbara Brown to Gowen Wilson, Joshua Harding, and Jonathan Nowell, styled deacons or overseers entrusted with the care and management of the estate and temporal interest of the family of shakers in Alfred, conveying the locus in quo to them and their successors and assigns in trust for said family or society, for the support of the gospel among them, the relief of the poor, and their common support, and for other pious and charitable uses; --and then shewed from the records of the society, that the plaintiffs were their regular successors.

The defendant contended that the title did not pass to the plaintiffs by this deed and by such succession; --and further objected that the plaintiffs had no right to maintain the action at this time, because it appeared by the book of records of the society, that while this action was pending, John Anderson had resigned the office of deacon, and others were appointed in his stead.

Both these objections were overruled by the Chief Justice, and a verdict, under his instructions, was returned for the plaintiffs, subject to the opinion of the Court.

Motion to set aside the verdict sustained.

Shepley, for the defendant, objected first to the amendment of the writ, which he said wholly changed the nature of the action, and was therefore inadmissible. It stood on a cause of action accrued to the plaintiffs in their own right, to which their executors would succeed as privies; but it was now changed to a title en autre droit, the interest in which would pass to their successors in office. Haynes v. Morgan 3 Mass. 210.

As to the witnesses,--they had a direct interest in the cause of action, being joint owners of the common fund, which would be increased or diminished by the result of this suit, and which their releases did not affect. Nor could the plaintiff's release discharge their pecuniary liability to contribute to the expenses of the suit, for this the plaintiffs had no power to do. At most it was but a private undertaking of the plaintiffs to indemnify them; but cannot operate to discharge them from...

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