Leitz v. Hohman

Citation56 A. 868,207 Pa. 289
Decision Date04 January 1904
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
56 A. 868
207 Pa. 289


Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

Jan. 4, 1904.

Appeal from Court of Common Pleas, Lancaster County.

Action by William Leitz against John W. Hohman. From a judgment of the superior court reversing a judgment discharging a rule to set off a judgment against a judgment, plaintiff appeals. Reversed.


J. W. Brown and D. McMullen, for appellant.

I. C. Arnold and B. F. Davis, for appellee.

MITCHELL, C. J. It is settled and unquestionable law that the setoff of one judgment against another is not a legal right, even under our defalcation act, but is allowed by the courts under their inherent powers in the administration of justice, and is governed by the principles of equity. In Wellock v. Cowan, 16 Serg. & R. 318, it is said, per curiam: "Set-off had no existence at the common law, relief being had only in equity. Since the statute, this branch of chancery jurisdiction has not been exercised where relief might be had at law; although, for a particular equity not provided for, chancery will go beyond the statute, and allow of what is called an equitable setoff by virtue of its original powers. Courts of common law have long exercised the same powers in setting judgments against each other —a matter not provided for in the statute, and therefore constituting, perhaps, the only equitable jurisdiction which those courts possess." In Ramsey's Appeal, 2 Watts, 228, 27 Am. Dec. 301, Chief Justice Gibson says: "There is a fallacy in supposing defalcation in a case like the present to be a legal right. Judgments are set against each other, not by force of the statute, but by the inherent powers of the courts immemorially exercised. * * * An equitable right of setting off Judgments, therefore, is permitted only where it will infringe on no other right of equal grade." And in Burns v. Thornburgh, 3 Watts, 78, it is again said, per curiam, the power to set one judgment against another "is not a legal power, nor its exercise demandable of right."

But though the principle in general has been thus clearly and frequently declared, its limits and practical application between the original parties have been little discussed, most of the cases from Jacoby v. Guier, 6 Serg. & R. 448, down to Clement v. Philadelphia, 137 Pa. 328, 20 Atl. 1000, 21 Am. St. Rep. 876, having arisen on disputes as to the rights of assignees. Some few rules, or, at least, presumptions, may be gathered from the incidental...

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3 cases
  • Sunwest Bank of Roswell, N.A. v. Miller's Performance Warehouse, Inc., 19735
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of New Mexico
    • September 4, 1991
    ......Betts, 321 Pa. 270, 271, 183 A. 923, 924 (1936) (quoting Leitz v. Hohman, 207 Pa. 289, 291, 56 A. 868, 868 (1904); see generally S.M. Speiser, Attorneys' Fees 389 (1973); Annotation Assignment of Judgment or an ......
  • PROIE BROTHERS, INC. v. Proie, Misc. No. 4700
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
    • March 1, 1971
    ......        3 See also, 121 A.L.R. 478, et seq.; 15 R.C.L. 823, ¶ 291.         4 Leitz" v. Hohman, 207 Pa. 289, 56 A. 868; Aber's Petition, 18 Pa.Super. 110; Reed v. Smith, 158 F. 889 (D.N.J.); Skinner v. Chase, 6 Pa.Super. 279.     \xC2"......
  • Masterson v. Berndt
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • January 4, 1904
    ...Atl. 940. Much less, then, would "silent influence," even if capable of proof, have that effect. The jury in this case should have been in 56 A. 868 structed to find for the will. It is not necessary to consider the assignments of error in The judgment is reversed, the issue is directed to ......

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