95 N.Y. 181, Todd v. Weber

Citation:95 N.Y. 181
Party Name:JOSEPHINE TODD, Respondent, v. ALBERT WEBER et al., Executors, etc., Appellants.
Case Date:February 26, 1884
Court:New York Court of Appeals

Page 181

95 N.Y. 181

JOSEPHINE TODD, Respondent,

v.

ALBERT WEBER et al., Executors, etc., Appellants.

New York Court of Appeal

February 26, 1884

Argued February 1, 1884.

Page 182

COUNSEL

Robert S. Green for appellants. Mrs. Story had no standing to enforce the alleged promise. This is not a case of mutual promises, where one has performed and calls on the other for performance. (Watkins v. Perkins, 1 Ld. Raym. 224; Birdsall v. Egerton, 25 Wend. 619.) The plaintiff cannot recover as the beneficiary of a promise made to a third person. (Alderson v. Maddison, L. R., 5 Ex. Div. 293; Guernsey v. Rogers, 47 N.Y. 240; Vrooman v. Turner, 69 Id. 284, 285; John v. Morgan, 68 Id. 497; Munson v. Dyett, 56 How. 333; Goelet v. Farley, 57 Id. 175; Blunt v. Boyd, 3 Barb. 212; Rogers v. Union Stone Co., 130 Mass. 581; Mellen v. Whipple, 1 Gray, 317; Exch. B'k v. Rice, 107 Mass. 37; Tweddle v. Atkinson, 1 B. & S. 393; Carr v. Nat. Sec. B'k 107 Mass. 45.) There being no precedent legal obligation to pay, the moral obligation will not render the promise obligatory. (Moncrief v. Ely, 19 Wend. 405; Shelton v. Springett, 11 C. B. 452; Mortimore v. Wright, 6 M. & W. 482; Raymond v. Loyd, 10 Barb. 489; Freeman v. Robinson, 9 Vroom, 383.) A mere moral or conscientious obligation, unconnected with a prior legal or equitable claim, is not sufficient to support an express promise. (Geer v. Archer, 2 Barb. 420, Smith v. Ware, 13 Johns. 258; Ehle v. Judson, 24 Wend. 97; Freeman v. Johnson, 9 Vroom, 383; Farnsworth v. Clark, 44 Barb. 601; Wennell v. Adney, 3 B. & P. 247; Eastwood v. Kenyon, 11 A. & E. 438; Beaumont v. Reeve, 82 B. 486; Mills v. Wyman, 3 Pick. 207; Dodge v. Adams, 19 Id. 429;

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Wheaton v. Wilmarth, 13 Metc. 422; Cook v. Bradley, 7 Ct. 57.)As to maintenance and support furnished subsequent to the promise, they having been furnished by her relatives, the law does not infer that the parties contemplated compensation. (Van Kuren v. Saxton, 5 T. & C. 567; Robinson v. Cushman, 2 Denio, 152; Williams v. Hutchinson, 3 N.Y. 312; Sharp v. Cropsey, 11 Barb. 224; Wilcox v. Wilcox, 48 Id. 327; Duffey v. Duffey, 44 Penn. St. 399.) No promise to pay will be inferred even against the plaintiff; none can be inferred against Weber. (Livingston v. Rogers, C. & C. 331; Conway v. Macfarlane, Penn. Sp. Ct. 25; A. L. J. 23.) If the plaintiff is entitled to recover on any grounds, the evidence by her relatives, parties to conversations with Weber was inadmissible under sections 828-829, of the Code of Civil Procedure. (Church v. Howard, 79 N.Y. 415; Miller v. Montgomery, 78 Id. 282; Foote v. Beecher, Id. 155; Hill v. Hotchkiss, 23 Hun, 414; Wilkins v. Baker, 24 Id. 32.) The promises were of a gratuity, which were revocable at pleasure. (Duncan v. Pope, 47 Ga., 445; Nine v. Starr, 8 Oreg. 49.) There was no mutuality. (Trustees Hamilton College v. Stewart, 1 Comst. 581; Anthony v. Harrison, 14 Hun, 198; Stoddard v. Cleveland, 4 How. Pr. 148; Coleyear v. Mulgrave, 2 Kern. 82; Pearson v. Pearson, 7 Johns. 26; Fink v. Cox, 18 Id. 145; Harris v. Clark, 3 Comst. 93; Eckert v. Eckert, Paige, 354; Cottage St. Church v. Kendall, 121 Mass. 528; Curry v. Rogers, 1 Foster, 247.) The promise is not enforceable, because of its uncertainty. (2 Pars. on Cont. [ 6th ed.] 561; Buckmaster v. Consumer's Ice Co., 5 Daly, 316; Adams v. Adams, 26 Ala. 278.)

Wm. H. Arnoux for respondent. The promises made by defendant's testator to the mother and grandmother of plaintiff, that he would remunerate them for her support and maintenance, by providing for plaintiff in his will, were not barred by the statute of limitations. (Wood's Master and Servant, § 83.) Where continuous services are rendered under an entire contract, and no time for payment is fixed, the statute does

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not begin to run until the termination of the relation between the parties. (Schack v. Garrett, 69 Penn. St. 144; Hale v. Wood, 9 Gray, 60; Patterson v. Patterson, 13 Johns. 379; Quackenbush v. Quackenbush, 5 Barb. 469; Ryer v. Stockwell, 14 Cal. 134; Lincoln v. Purcell, 2 Head [Tenn.], 143; Morgan v. Brown, 12 La. Ann. 157; Wood's Master and Servant, § 125.) The right of action accrued only on the death of defendant's testator and the probate of his will. (Wood on Limitation of Actions, chap. 10, p. 254; Morrison v. Mullen, 34 Penn. St. 12; Pittsburg, etc., R. R. v. Ryers, 32 Id. 22; Fenton v. Embler, 1 W. Bl. 353; Savage v. Alden, 2 Stark. 232; Bacon's Abridgment, Limitation, 230 D. 3; Thompson v. Gordon, 3 Strobh. [ S. C.], 196; Mackey v. Hawkins, 4 C. B. 664; Sanders v. Coward, 15 M. & W. 56; Nimmo v. Walker, 14 La. Ann. 581; Bash v. Bash, 9 Penn. St. 260; Price v. Price, Cheves [S. C.], Eq. 167; Jilson v. Gilbert, 26 Wis. 637; Titman v. Titman, 64 Penn. St. 486; Riddle v. Backus, 38 Iowa, 81.) Whenever an offer is made and outstanding which is acted upon by a competent party, such performance by the promisee makes a binding contract and renders the promise obligatory. (Pierson v. March, 82 N.Y. 503; Jones v. Phoenix B'k, 8 Id. 228; Williams v. Cowardine, 4 B. & A. 621; Assizes, 5 C. & P. 566; Ryer v. Stockwell, 14 Cal. 134; Loring v. City of Boston, 7 Metc. 411; Freeman v. City of Boston, 4 Id. 56; Lymmer v. Frazier, 6 Mass. 344; Wentworth v. Day, 3 Metc. 352; Gilmore v. Lewis, 12 Ohio, 281; England v. Davidson, 11 A. & E. 856; Lancaster v. Walsh, 4 M. & W. 16; Thatcher v. England, 3 C. & B. 254; Smith v. Moore, 1 Id. 438; Neville v. Kelly, 12 Id. [ N. S.], 740; Turner v. Walker, L. R., 1 Q. B. 641; L. R., 2 Q. B. 301; Furman v. Parker, 1 N. J. 310; Cramshaw v. Roxbury, 7 Gray, 374; Denton v. Great N. R'y, 5 El. & Bl. 860; Fallich v. Barber, 1 M. & S. 108; 11 Mass. 31; 14 Id. 172; Hurlyn v. Albany, 1 Cro. Eliz. 67; Train v. Gold, 5 Pick. 380; Hempler v. Schneider, 17 Mo. 258; Barnum v. Barnum, 8 Conn. 469; 21 Am. Dec. 689; Marsh v. Pigot, 3 Burr. 2802; Lindell v. Rokes, 60 Mo. 249; 21 Am. Rep. 395; Eagan v. Thompson, 57 How. Pr. 324;

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Parks v. Francis, 50 Vt. 626; 28 Am. Rep. 517; Wolford v. Powers, 85 Ind. 294; 44 Am. Rep. 16; Long v. Battle Creek, 39 Mich. 323; 33 Am. Rep. 384; Stevens v. Corbett, 33 Mich. 461, Shadwell v. Shadwell, 30 L. J. 145; Gunion v. Cromartie, 11 Ired. 174; Alderson v. Madderson, Exch. Div., 29 Week. R. 105; Hammersly v. De Beil, 12 C. & F. 457; Luders v. Ansbey, 4 Ves. 501; Proale v. Soady, 8 Week. R. 131; 2 Giff. 1; Loffus v. Maw, 10 Week. R. 513; 3 Giff. 592; Coles v. Pilkington, 23 Week. R. 41; L. R., 19 Eq. 174; Addison on Cont., § 11; L'Amoreux v. Gould, 7 N.Y. 349; Sanders v. Gillespie, 59 Id. 251; Bohm v. Goldstein, 53 Id. 634; White v. Baxter, 71 Id. 254; Marie v. Garrison, 83 Id. 14; Willetts v. Sun Mut. Ins. Co., 45 Id. 45; Thompson v. Case, 9 U. S.Ct. of Claims, 187.) When a promise is made by the putative father of a natural child to pay to the mother a sum of money for the support of such child the court will enforce such promise as a binding contract, upon proof that the child had been so supported. (Hook v. Pratt, 78 N.Y. 371; Knowlton v. Bluett, 9 L. R. Exch. 1307; Birn v. Winthrop,...

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