Anderson v. Johnson, No. 32448.

CourtSupreme Court of Minnesota (US)
Writing for the CourtHolt
Citation208 Minn. 152,293 N.W. 131
PartiesANDERSON et al. v. JOHNSON et al.
Decision Date28 June 1940
Docket NumberNo. 32448.
293 N.W. 131
208 Minn. 152
JOHNSON et al.
No. 32448.
Supreme Court of Minnesota.
June 28, 1940.

Appeal from District Court, Ramsey County; Hugo O. Hanft, Judge.

Action by Theodore T. Anderson and Arthur A. Anderson, copartners doing business as Anderson Bros. Plumbing & Heating Company, against Gladys Johnson and Allen I. Nilva, who were administering the estate of Katie Lindgren, deceased, and others, to have a lien for work and materials adjudged and enforced against the homestead of Katie Lindgren, deceased. From an order sustaining defendants' general demurrer to the amended complaint, the plaintiffs appeal.


[208 Minn. 153]

Laurence M. Nelson, of St. Paul, for appellants.

M. H. Frisch, of St. Paul, for respondents.

HOLT, Justice.

Plaintiffs appeal from the order sustaining defendants' general demurrer to the amended complaint. The pleading alleges that plaintiffs as partners, between September 6, 1937 and August 15, 1938, furnished material and performed services for Katie Lindgren at her request in the repair and improvement of her homestead, describing it, in St. Paul, for the agreed price and reasonable value of $199.31, only $90 whereof has been paid; that subsequent to the completion of the improvement Katie Lindgren died testate; that letters testamentary have been granted by the probate court of Ramsey county to defendants Gladys Johnson and Allen I. Nilva, who duly qualified and are administering the estate of Katie Lindgren; that by her will Katie Lindgren devised her homestead to defendants Gladys Johnson and Allen I. Nilva in trust for the benefit of defendants Hannah Cermak, Lydia Johnson and Constance Sjolinder; that the only property other than the homestead left by Katie Lindgren was personalty

293 N.W. 132

of the value of $135, an insufficient amount for the expense of administration; and that plaintiffs' claim is not provable in probate court and enforceable there by virtue of Mason Minn.St.1940 Supp. § 8992-27; wherefore plaintiffs pray for judgment against defendants for $109.31, with interest from August 15, 1938, an adjudication of a lien therefor upon the homestead pursuant to art. 1, § 12, of the state constitution, and for such further relief as to the court may seem just.

The question presented by the demurrer is this: May plaintiffs, without filing their claim in probate court, sue defendants and have a lien therefor adjudged and enforced against decedent's homestead?

208 Minn. 154

It is to be inferred from the pleading that the estate of Katie Lindgren is in the probate court and that administration has not been completed. That being so, it may also be assumed that notice to creditors to present their claims has been given. It is alleged that plaintiffs' claim is not provable in probate court, so the inference is that they have not filed it and, of course, it is not allowed. There can be no doubt but that the claim is provable against the estate of Katie Lindgren. But the question is: Is it essential so to do under the facts pleaded? The probate code, Mason Minn.St.1940 Supp. § 8992-125, provides that the administration of an estate may be closed summarily and final decree entered where "all of the property in the estate is exempt from all debts and charges in the probate court." And § 8992-27(c) provides: "No lien or other charge against any homestead which is so exempted shall be enforced in the probate court, but the claimant may enforce such lien or charge by an appropriate action in the District Court." This provision was held constitutional in Re Estate of Peterson, 198 Minn. 45, 268 N.W. 707. In view of this law and the situation of this estate and this homestead, there appears no valid reason why plaintiffs should be first required to file for allowance their claim in the probate court when the district court alone has authority to enforce it against the homestead. It is true plaintiffs had an ample remedy under the mechanics' lien law against this homestead, and failed to avail themselves thereof; but they also have other remedies since the constitution was amended by art. 1, § 12, subjecting homesteads to "seizure and sale for any debts incurred to any person for work done or materials furnished in the construction, repair, or improvement of the same." Nickerson v. Crawford, 74 Minn....

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