Barlow v. Collins

Decision Date16 December 1958
Citation166 Cal.App.2d 274,333 P.2d 64
CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
PartiesWarren BARLOW, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Geraldine S. COLLINS, also known as Geraldine Collins Barlow, Defendant and Appellant. Civ. 5783.

Leonard A. Bock, Palm Springs, for appellant.

Thurman Arnold, Jr., Palm Springs, for respondent.

GRIFFIN, Presiding Justice.

Plaintiff-respondent brought this action against defendant-appellant, in three separate causes of action alleging in general, breach of contract, breach of trust and for an accounting, and injunction. Therein, he alleged that beginning in the year 1948, up to 1956, excepting certain periods, plaintiff and defendant lived together as husband and wife, without the denefit of a marriage license or ceremony; that during these years they agreed to pool their earnings; that during that period they were both employed by third parties as a cook and waitress or were self-employed in the restaurant business as joint venturers or copartners; that they placed their joint earnings in a bank account in defendant's name for the benefit of both parties; that unhappy differences occurred between them about December 3, 1956, and defendant left with the proceeds; that plaintiff made demand upon her for his share of the proceeds or an accounting which was refused. An attachment was levied upon defendant's bank account. Judgment by default for $11,095 was given plaintiff. It was subsequently set aside and a temporary restraining order was dissolved. By stipulation the money attached was held by plaintiff's counsel in his trust fund account pending the outcome of the action. An execution levied on defendant's bank account in the total sum of the judgment was also set aside.

Defendant answered, admitted they lived together as such, between said dates, with the exception of certain intervals; denied any agreement to share any money; alleged she contributed more money to plaintiff's support than he contributed to hers; claimed plaintiff never gave her any money to deposit in the banks except the sum of $14,000 realized from the sale of a restaurant they jointly owned; and claimed that plaintiff retained one-half of this amount. She denied the other allegations of the complaint.

A pre-trial hearing was had. Later the trial court found generally that the parties lived together as alleged; that they agreed to pool their earnings and share equally in their accumulations; that defendant agreed to deposit them in banks in her name for their joint benefit; that said agreement was independent of and not in consideration of either of them living with the other but was in the anture of a joint enterprise; that the sum of $13,753.80 represented such earnings and profits so accumulated in accordance with their agreement; that unhappy differences arose and defendant refused to account to plaintiff for his share; that certain money had been deposited in certain specified banks and after allowing $7,000 to defendant (being a claimed inheritance from defendant's mother) as her separate property, a balance of $13,753.80 was jointly earned money and plaintiff was entitled to one-half of it or $6,876.90. Judgment was entered accordingly.

Defendant appealed and contends: (1) that the complaint does not state facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action for breach of contract; (2) that plaintiff was estopped from claiming equitable relief since he elected to proceed on the theory of breach of contract by reason of obtaining a writ of attachment; (3) that plaintiff is barred, under section 300 of the Labor Code, from asserting any claim to defendant's wages; (4) that plaintiff was barred by the statute of limitations from asserting any claim to her share in the profits or wages accumulated beyond the period prescribed by the statute of limitations; (5) that the evidence in support of the judgment is inherently improbable; and (6) that the findings do not support the judgment.

The main claim under this heading is that one partner may not maintain an action against his copartner for claims growing out of the partnership until after the partnership has been dissolved and an accounting has been had, citing such authority as Hall v. Hagerman, 107 Cal.App.2d 523, 237 P.2d 80; Martyn v. Leslie, 137 Cal.App.2d 41, 61, 290 P.2d 58; Shearer v. Davis, 67 Cal.App.2d 878, 879, 155 P.2d 708; and Martin v. Going, 57 Cal.App. 631, 207 P. 935.

Under the first claim the complaint in the first cause of action did allege breach of contract and set forth in detail the particulars from which it was claimed such breach arose. It is true an attachment was levied but it was, before trial, dismissed or released. The second cause of action alleges a breach of trust and seeks an accounting. It incorporates the allegations of the first cause of action in support thereof. The court made general findings applicable to both counts. By obtaining the attachment there was no definite election of plaintiff to stand on the first count, as opposed to the election of the second count. Each stated similar facts and in substance the complaint stated a cause of action for claimed breach of an agreement to pool their earnings and profits. Such agreements have been held enforceable in protecting the interests of each in such property unless the contract is made in contemplation of such relationship. Bridges v. Bridges, 125 Cal.App.2d 359, 270 P.2d 69; Garcia v. Venegas, 106 Cal.App.2d 364, 368, 235 P.2d 89; Bacon v. Bacon, 21 Cal.App.2d 540, 69 P.2d 884. The general rule is that if a man and woman live together as husband and wife under an agreement to pool their earnings and share equally in their joint accumulations, equity will protect the interests of each in such property. Even in the absence of an express agreement to that effect, the woman would be entitled to share in the property jointly accumulated, in the proportion that her funds contributed towards its acquisition. Vallera v. Vallera, 21 Cal.2d 681, 685, 134 P.2d 761. The pleadings were sufficient to state a cause of action in this respect.

Defendant relies on the general rule that a partner may not sue his copartner in an action at law in respect to firm transactions until an accounting has been had. While this general rule is well established, a different rule or at least an exception to the general rule, has been quite generally recognized and has been indicated and applied in several cases in this state. The general rule is peculiarly applicable to claims for damages arising out of the manner in which a partnership business has been conducted and to breaches of said agreements as such. But the reasons for applying the general rule are less forceful where the wrongful acts complained of are not only a breach of contract but constitute a tort, and this is especially true where the tort is of such a nature that it not only terminates the partnership but wrongfully destroys it, and where the erring partner converts to his own use its entire assets. Laughlin v. Haberfelde, 72 Cal.App.2d 780, 165 P.2d 544; Tufts v. Mann, 116 Cal.App. 170, 2 P.2d 500; Keyes v. Nims, 43 Cal.App. 1, 184 P. 695.

Under the second claim plaintiff was not estopped from claiming equitable relief. De Hart v. Allen, 49 Cal.App.2d 639, 122 P.2d 273. Third, plaintiff was not barred from claiming his purported share of the profits and his earnings which were found in defendant's bank account under section 300 of the Labor Code. Defendant placed her earnings and profits in said account. She never parted with any of her money pursuant to the pooling agreement. There was no assignment of her wages in violation of that section and defendant could not equitably assert such claim. Cline v. Festersen, 128 Cal.App.2d 380, 275 P.2d 149. Fourth, this same conclusion applies to the claimed bar of the statute of limitations. Such a statute would run from the time of the breach or termination of the agreement or when the cause of action accrues. Niles v. Louis H. Rapoport & Sons, 53 Cal.App.2d 644, 128 P.2d 50; Maguire v. Hibernia Savings & Loan Soc., 23 Cal.2d...

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8 cases
  • Marvin v. Marvin
    • United States
    • California Supreme Court
    • December 27, 1976
    ...95 Cal.App.2d 599, 602, 213 P.2d 727; see Hill v. Estate of Westbrook (1952) 39 Cal.2d 458, 460, 247 P.2d 19; Barlow v. Collins (1958) 166 Cal.App.2d 274, 277, 333 P.2d 64 (dictum); Bridges v. Bridges (1954) 125 Cal.App.2d 359, 362, 270 P.2d 69 (dictum)). A review of the numerous California......
  • Boyd v. Bevilacqua
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • December 16, 1966
    ...72 Cal.App.2d 780, 787--790, 165 P.2d 544; Driskill v. Thompson (1956) 141 Cal.App.2d 479, 482, 296 P.2d 834; Barlow v. Collins (1958) 166 Cal.App.2d 274, 278, 333 P.2d 64; see Moropoulos v. C.H. & O.B. Fuller Co. (1921) 186 Cal. 679, 687, 200 P. We therefore conclude that under the circums......
  • Sack v. Tomlin
    • United States
    • Nevada Supreme Court
    • March 30, 1994
    ...or her funds contributed towards the acquisition. Beckman v. Mayhew, 49 Cal.App.3d 529, 122 Cal.Rptr. 604 (1975); Barlow v. Collins, 166 Cal.App.2d 274, 333 P.2d 64 (1958); Hill v. Estate of Westbrook, 95 Cal.App.2d 599, 213 P.2d 727 (1950); see also Vallera v. Vallera, 21 Cal.2d 681, 134 P......
  • Prince v. Harting
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • February 9, 1960
    ...supra, 1946, 72 Cal.App.2d 780, 165 P.2d 544; Driskill v. Thompson, supra, 1956, 141 Cal.App.2d 479, 296 P.2d 834; Barlow v. Collins, 1958, 166 Cal.App.2d 274, 333 P.2d 64; Chatten v. Martell, 1958, 166 Cal.App.2d 545, 333 P.2d 364. These cases recognize a distinction between ordinary breac......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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