Dorrance v. Martin, No. 5091

CourtUnited States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. District of New Jersey
Writing for the CourtWOOLLEY and DAVIS, Circuit , and AVIS
Citation12 F. Supp. 746
PartiesDORRANCE et al. v. MARTIN et al. HILL v. SAME.
Decision Date03 June 1935
Docket NumberNo. 5091,5092.

12 F. Supp. 746

DORRANCE et al.
v.
MARTIN et al.
HILL
v.
SAME.

Nos. 5091, 5092.

District Court, D. New Jersey.

June 3, 1935.


John Milton, of Jersey City, N. J., and William A. Schnader, of Philadelphia, Pa., for plaintiffs.

David T. Wilentz, Atty. Gen., and Hobart & Minard, of Newark, N. J., for defendants.

Before WOOLLEY and DAVIS, Circuit Judges, and AVIS, District Judge.

WOOLLEY, Circuit Judge.

On September 21, 1930, John T. Dorrance died. His place of business had been Camden, New Jersey. During the later years of his life he maintained at the same time three domestic establishments: one at Cinnaminson in the State of New Jersey, another at Radnor in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and still another at Bar Harbor in the State of Maine. He spent a portion of the summer of the year 1930 at his Bar Harbor residence and, on returning, died at his New Jersey residence where he had been staying while his Pennsylvania residence was being made ready for occupancy.

Dorrance, by his will, declared himself a resident of the Township of Cinnaminson, in the County of Burlington and State of New Jersey and, by express

12 F. Supp. 747
provision, required his executors, under severe penalties for disobedience, to offer his will for probate in that state. Accordingly, on October 1, 1930, they offered his will for probate before the Surrogate of Burlington County, New Jersey, and in due course that official granted them letters testamentary. Thereupon the executors, acting under the jurisdiction of the Orphans' Court of Burlington County, New Jersey, set about to administer the vast estate of the testator which consisted almost entirely of intangible personal property

The State of New Jersey evidently took it for granted that, as Dorrance had, on his own declaration, been a resident of that state and as his estate was being administered under letters testamentary granted in a county thereof, the situs of his intangible personal property was New Jersey and, accordingly, the property was subject to inheritance tax under the laws of that state (4 Comp. St. N. J. 1910, p. 5301, § 537 et seq., Comp. St. Supps. N. J. 1924, 1930, § 208-537 et seq.). On the other hand, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, acting more promptly, claimed that Pennsylvania was the domicile of Dorrance and therefore was the situs of his intangible personal property, and for that reason his property was subject to inheritance tax under the laws of that commonwealth (72 PS Pa. § 2301 et seq.). The State of Maine, evidently recognizing that the establishment of Dorrance at Bar Harbor was only a summer residence, has made no claim for taxes.

Thus there arose a controversy, nominally between persons but actually between states, which by reason of the stake has grown to major proportions. An understanding of its present phase can be had only by giving in brief outline the administrative and judicial proceedings which have been pursued concurrently and along somewhat parallel lines in the two states.

Early in the New Jersey administration of the Dorrance estate the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania formally claimed that the decedent was at the time of his death domiciled in Radnor Township, Pennsylvania. Acting under claim of authority of Pennsylvania inheritance tax laws the Register of Wills of Delaware County, Pennsylvania, appointed an appraiser who, on April 20, 1931, filed an appraisement of the Dorrance estate at $199,999,000 upon which was computed and assessed inheritance tax due Pennsylvania in the sum of $31,465,200.

On May 14, 1931, the executors, resisting taxation in Pennsylvania, appealed from this assessment to the Orphans' Court of Delaware County, Pennsylvania. That court sustained the executors' appeal and set aside the assessment. Thereupon the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania appealed to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. On September 26, 1932, that court reversed (In re Dorrance's Estate, 309 Pa. 151, 163 A. 303) the decree of the Orphans' Court and reinstated, in a modified amount, the tax assessment which the Register of Wills of Delaware County had made. On petition, the Supreme Court of the United States, denying the State of New Jersey a right to intervene, refused the executors a writ of certiorari (Dorrance v. Pennsylvania, 287 U.S. 660, 53 S.Ct. 222, 77 L.Ed. 570) because (it was thought) it could not find that a federal question had been presented to and passed upon by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. Thereupon the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania on March 27, 1933, entered judgment for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and against the executors of the will of John T. Dorrance for transfer inheritance tax in the amount of $14,394,698.88, subject to an additional tax if and when the final determination of the amount of the federal estate tax should disclose that 80 per cent. thereof exceeded the above amount. The judgment included a tax upon the transfer of all of Dorrance's intangible personal property. On mandate a like judgment was entered in the Orphans' Court of Delaware County and on March 31, 1933, the executors paid the tax with $104,278.03 interest and gave bond for $4,000,000 to meet the eventuality of an additional assessment because of the federal estate tax.

During all these proceedings in Pennsylvania, taxing officials and courts in New Jersey had been active in an endeavor to assess, sustain and collect from the Dorrance estate the inheritance tax in that state. Of this Pennsylvania officials and the executors of the will were fully informed.

The New Jersey proceedings, stated as shortly as possible, were these: On various dates the executors of the will of Dorrance, aiding the taxing authorities

12 F. Supp. 748
in New Jersey, made returns to the Comptroller of the Treasury of New Jersey showing their testator was domiciled in New Jersey and supplying data for transfer inheritance tax purposes under the laws of that state, particularly that the decedent left no real property; that his entire estate, the market value of which was estimated at $115,121,518.92, consisted of personal property and almost entirely of intangible personal property; that all securities of the estate except a small amount not then important were located in New Jersey; and that after deductions for debts and expenses the net amount for distribution was $112,055,400.86. On this and other information the State Tax Commissioner of the State of New...

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10 practice notes
  • Central R. Co. of New Jersey v. Martin, 1934 No. 5184
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. District of New Jersey
    • November 1, 1939
    ...126, 59 L.Ed. 288; State Corporation Commission v. Wichita Gas Co., 290 U.S. 561, 54 S.Ct. 321, 78 L.Ed. 500; Dorrance v. Martin, D.C., 12 F.Supp. 746. "In our opinion the questions presented by the nine suits at bar are res adjudicata and this defense as asserted by the appellees is valid.......
  • Worcester County Trust Co. v. Long, No. 4292.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Massachusetts
    • April 27, 1936
    ...Dorrance v. Martin, 176 A. 902, 13 N.J. Misc. 168. See, also, Hill v. Martin, 296 U.S. 393, 56 S.Ct. 278, 80 L.Ed. ___, affirming (D.C.) 12 F.Supp. 746. I can very readily agree with complainant's counsel that the question here presented is one of unusual public interest. A short cut to the......
  • Lehigh Valley R. Co. of New Jersey v. Martin, No. 6431-6439.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • November 15, 1938
    ...these causes were not considered by the court below upon the merits. As was stated by Judge Woolley in Dorrance v. Martin, D.C., 12 F.Supp. 746, at page 749, the theory underlying federal jurisdiction in such cases as those at bar is that the administrative proceedings of the State must be ......
  • Nevin v. Martin, No. 4805.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. District of New Jersey
    • April 4, 1938
    ...of this type of case are Worcester County Trust Co. v. Riley, 302 U.S. 292, 58 S.Ct. 185, 82 L.Ed. ___, and Dorrance v. Martin, D.C., 12 F. Supp. 746, Id., 296 U.S. 393, 56 S.Ct. 278, 80 L.Ed. 293. In the Worcester County Case it was alleged that California and Massachusetts were claiming t......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
10 cases
  • Central R. Co. of New Jersey v. Martin, 1934 No. 5184
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. District of New Jersey
    • November 1, 1939
    ...126, 59 L.Ed. 288; State Corporation Commission v. Wichita Gas Co., 290 U.S. 561, 54 S.Ct. 321, 78 L.Ed. 500; Dorrance v. Martin, D.C., 12 F.Supp. 746. "In our opinion the questions presented by the nine suits at bar are res adjudicata and this defense as asserted by the appellees is valid.......
  • Worcester County Trust Co. v. Long, No. 4292.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Massachusetts
    • April 27, 1936
    ...Dorrance v. Martin, 176 A. 902, 13 N.J. Misc. 168. See, also, Hill v. Martin, 296 U.S. 393, 56 S.Ct. 278, 80 L.Ed. ___, affirming (D.C.) 12 F.Supp. 746. I can very readily agree with complainant's counsel that the question here presented is one of unusual public interest. A short cut to the......
  • Lehigh Valley R. Co. of New Jersey v. Martin, No. 6431-6439.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • November 15, 1938
    ...these causes were not considered by the court below upon the merits. As was stated by Judge Woolley in Dorrance v. Martin, D.C., 12 F.Supp. 746, at page 749, the theory underlying federal jurisdiction in such cases as those at bar is that the administrative proceedings of the State must be ......
  • Nevin v. Martin, No. 4805.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. District of New Jersey
    • April 4, 1938
    ...of this type of case are Worcester County Trust Co. v. Riley, 302 U.S. 292, 58 S.Ct. 185, 82 L.Ed. ___, and Dorrance v. Martin, D.C., 12 F. Supp. 746, Id., 296 U.S. 393, 56 S.Ct. 278, 80 L.Ed. 293. In the Worcester County Case it was alleged that California and Massachusetts were claiming t......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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