In re Otis

Citation101 N.Y. 580,5 N.E. 571
PartiesIn re Application of OTIS, Ex'x, etc.
Decision Date16 March 1886
CourtNew York Court of Appeals


Appeal of Otis and others from an order of the general term of the supreme court in the First department, reversing an order of the court at special term, directing the committee of Oscar Strasburger, a lunatic, to pay $8,125 and interest, being one quarter's rent of certain premises in Broadway, New York city. The order of the special term was made June 22, 1885.


The jurisdiction confided to the court over the persons and estates of lunatics carries with it, as a necessary incident, after inquisition found and the appointment of a committee, the power to direct the application of the estate of the lunatic to the payment of demands existing against it, and this relief may be granted on petition of the claimant. Executors of Brasher v. Van Cortlandt, 2 Johns. Ch. 244;In re Heller, 3 Paige, 200;People v. National Trust Co., 82 N. Y. 283. This jurisdiction, in its origin, was equitable, and is exercised upon equitable principles, and in accordance with the maxim that ‘equality is equity.’ The equitable rule has been embodied in the statute, in respect to the distribution of money, arising from the sale of the land of the lunatic, for the payment of debts, which declares that the proceeds shall be distributed ratably among all the creditors. 2 Rev. St. 54, § 15; Code Civil Proc. § 2364. There is no express statutory provision regulating the mode of distribution of the personal assets, but it cannot be doubted that, when the assets are insufficient to pay all the debts in full, the same rule of equality should be applied. In view of this principle, the relief sought by the petitioner was properly denied.

The lunacy of Strasburger did not discharge or affect his covenants in the lease. The rent accruing after the appointment of the committee became a charge upon his estate, and was a demand which the petitioners could present, and have adjusted in the ordinary course of administration. A claim for rent under a lease, whether accruing before or after the appointment of a committee, has no intrinsic preference over other debts of the lunatic. The lessor has his remedy by re-entry in case of default in payment of the rent, or he may forego his right to terminate the term, and come in as a general creditor of the estate for the rent unpaid. There may be equitable reasons upon which the court, in a particular case, ought to give a preference for rent accruing after the appointment of the committee. If the leased premises are occupied by the committee, and such occupation is to the advantage of the estate, as where it was necessary in order to carry on or close up the business of the lunatic, the rent accruing during such occupation would justly be regarded as a reasonable expense incurred by the committee, to be paid before the claims of general creditors.

But we perceive no equitable principle upon which a demand for rent takes preference of other debts, in the absence of a special equity growing out of the cricumstances of a particular case. It is claimed that the occupation of the premises for a time by the first committee was an acceptance of the lease by him, and that he thereby became liable as assignee of the term, and that the present committee succeeded to his situation and responsibility. If this claim was well founded, it would be material only as bearing upon the general equity of the committee, to be protected against liability by...

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17 cases
  • Oscar Heineman Corporation v. Nat Levy & Co.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Second Circuit
    • April 6, 1925
    ... ... Sparhawk v. Yerkes, 142 U. S. 1, 13 12 S. Ct. 104, 35 L. Ed. 915; Sunflower Oil Co. v. Wilson, 142 U. S. 313, 322 12 S. Ct. 235, 35 L. Ed. 1025; Woodruff v. Erie Railway, 93 N. Y. 609; In re Otis, 101 N. Y. 580, 585 5 N. E. 571." ...         In City and County of Denver v. Stenger, 295 F. 809, 817, the Circuit Court of Appeals in the Eighth Circuit held that a chancery receiver of a public utility is the custodian for the court in charge of the property 6 F.2d 973 he is ... ...
  • City Bank Farmers Trust Co. v. Hoey
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of New York
    • June 10, 1938
    ... ... 145, 124 N.E. 727; Matter of Flagler, 248 N.Y. 415, 162 N.E. 471, 59 A.L.R. 649. In exercise of the power the court issues an order to the committee of the incompetent's estate to pay the money or deliver the property, the committee being simply the court's bailiff or custodian. Matter of Otis, 101 N.Y. 580, 5 N.E. 571; Matter of Strasburger, 132 N. Y. 128, 30 N.E. 379; Haher v. Hamilton, 267 N.Y. 474, 196 N.E. 403. The only question then is whether the gifts in this case were made before passage of the Gift Tax Act, June 6, 1932, for if they were they are not taxable by express ... ...
  • Tradesman Pub. Co. v. Knoxville Car-Wheel Co.
    • United States
    • Tennessee Supreme Court
    • November 12, 1895
    ... ... Railroad Co. v. Humphreys, 145 U.S. 86, 12 S.Ct ... 787. In order to bind a receiver, or one standing in a like ... relation to a leasehold estate, for rents, he must elect to ... accept the lease, and he thereby becomes vested with the ... title to the leasehold interest. In re Otis, 101 ... N.Y. 585, 5 N.E. 571. We infer, from briefs of counsel filed ... in this cause, that the chancellor allowed these rents to ... Staub as a preferred claim upon the idea that they were ... properly chargeable to the receiver as an operating expense ... We find nothing in the record to ... ...
  • Perrin & Smith Printing Co. v. Cook Hotel & Excursion Co.
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • March 27, 1906
    ... ... In support of the proposition, in addition to those already cited, we cite the following cases: Woodruff v. Railroad, 93 N. Y. 609; In re Otis, 101 N. Y. 580, 585, 5 N. E. 571; Wells v. Higgins, 132 N. Y. 463, 30 N. E. 861; People v. Ins. Co., 30 Hun, 142; Martin v. Black, 9 Paige (N. Y.) 641, 644, 38 Am. Dec. 574; Link Belt Mach. Co. v. Hughes, 62 Ill. App. 318; De Wolf v. Trust Co., 173 Ill. 435, 50 N. E. 1049; Hatch v. Van Dervoort, 54 ... ...
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