Mann v. Prouty

Decision Date19 July 1917
Citation164 N.W. 139,37 N.D. 474
CourtNorth Dakota Supreme Court

Appeal from the District Court of McLean County, J. M. Hanley Judge.

Affirmed.

Judgment of the District Court affirmed with costs.

J. A Hyland, for appellant.

The reason for allowing duress to avoid a deed is that consent one of the essential elements, is wanting. 1 Devlin, Real Estate, P 83; Bane v. Detrick, 52 Ill. 19.

The burden of proving undue influence is upon the party alleging it. 1 Devlin, Real Estate, P 84; Howe v. Howe, 99 Mass. 88.

If the influence be a just exercise of power, a discreet and proper influence directed to accomplish commendable and lawful ends it is an influence to which the law will take no exception, but rather will uphold and encourage. Davis v. Culver, 13 How. Pr. 62; Suttles v. Hay, 41 N. C. (6 Ired. Eq.) 124; Miller v. Miller, 3 Serg. & R. 267, 8 Am. Dec. 651; Allore v. Jewell, 94 U.S. 506, 24 L.Ed. 260.

It must be borne in mind that suggestion and advice, addressed to judgment, and appeals to gratitude, love, and esteem, do not of themselves constitute undue influence. Delaplain v. Grubb, 44 W.Va. 612, 67 Am. St. Rep. 788, 30 S.E. 201.

To be undue, the influence must proceed from dominance and coercion, and not from sympathy and affection. Adair v. Craig, 135 Ala. 332, 33 So. 902; Sawyer v. White, 58 C. C. A. 587, 122 F. 223.

Family relationship of itself does not establish fiduciary relationship. Bishop v. Hilliard, 227 Ill. 382, 81 N.E. 403; Albrecht v. Hunecke, 196 Ill. 127, 63 N.E. 616; Thill v. Freiermuth, 132 Minn. 242, 156 N.W. 260; Zinkula v. Zinkula, 171 Iowa 287, 154 N.W. 158; Pritchard v. Hutton, 187 Mich. 346, 153 N.W. 705; Lewis v. Murray, 131 Minn. 439, 155 N.W. 395.

The influence condemned means that which destroys free agency to act. Woodville v. Morrill, 130 Minn. 92, 153 N.W. 131; Pritchard v. Hutton, 187 Mich. 346, 153 N.W. 105; Comp. Laws 1913, § 5852; Ingwaldson v. Skrivseth, 7 N.D. 388, 75 N.W. 772.

Where a deed is made by a parent to a child it is absolutely necessary to show that independent advice has been taken, even though an advantage over the grantor has been gained. Carney v. Carney, 196 Pa. 34, 46 A. 264; Sawyer v. White, 58 C. C. A. 587, 122 F. 223; Whitten v. McFall, 122 Ala. 619, 26 So. 131; Latimer v. Latimer, 174 Ill. 418, 51 N.E. 548; Valter v. Blavka, 195 Ill. 610, 63 N.E. 499; Ball v. Ball, 214 Ill. 255, 73 N.E. 314.

The fact that a person is impaired physically by old age and consequent loss of mental vigor is not sufficient to avoid a deed. Tate v. Holmes, 22 C. C. A. 466, 44 U. S. App. 702, 76 F. 664; Stringfellow v. Hanson, 25 Utah 480, 71 P. 1052; Sibley v. Somers, 62 N.J.Eq. 595, 50 A. 321; Delaplain v. Grubb, 44 W.Va. 612, 67 Am. St. Rep. 788, 30 S.E. 20; Wright v. Jackson, 59 Wis. 569, 18 N.W. 486; or that he has severe bodily ailments ( Bowdoin College v. Merritt, 75 F. 480; Swank v. Swank, 37 Ore. 439, 61 P. 846).

The presumption is that the grantor was sane and competent to execute the deed. Buckey v. Buckey, 38 W.Va. 168, 18 S.E. 383; West v. Douglas, 145 Ill. 164, 34 N.E. 141; Mallow v. Walker, 115 Iowa 238, 91 Am. St. Rep. 158, 88 N.W. 452; Paulus v. Reed, 121 Iowa 224, 96 N.W. 757; Sears v. Vaughan, 230 Ill. 572, 82 N.E. 881; Altig v. Altig, 137 Iowa 420, 114 N.W. 1056; Kime v. Addlesperger, 24 Ohio C. C. 397; Clarke v. Hartt, 56 Fla. 775, 47 So. 819.

Where there is no evidence of fraud committed, or of undue influence or advantage taken of the grantor's weakness, such weakness, unless it is to such a degree that it may be termed imbecility, will not invalidate the deed; and where the evidence is fairly evenly divided upon this question, the deed will not be set aside. Marmon v. Marmon, 47 Iowa 121; Trimbo v. Trimbo, 47 Minn. 389, 50 N.W. 350; Argo v. Coffin, 142 Ill. 368, 34 Am. St. Rep. 86, 32 N.E. 679; Onstott v. Edel, 232 Ill. 201, 83 N.E. 806, 13 Ann. Cas. 28.

It is not evidence of unsoundness that a father conveyed the most of his real property to his sons, to the exclusion of his daughters. McLaughlin v. McLaughlin, 241 Ill. 366, 89 N.E. 645; Slaughter v. McManigal, 138 Iowa 643, 116 N.W. 726; Case v. Bogart, 188 Mich. 297, 154 N.W. 45; Zinkula v. Zinkula, 171 Iowa 287, 154 N.W. 158.

A person is legally competent to execute a deed when he is capable of knowing the nature, character, and effect of it. Black v. Post, 67 W.Va. 253, 67 S.E. 1072; Johnson v. Coleman, 134 Ga. 696, 68 S.E. 480; Francis v. Preachers' Aid Soc. 149 Iowa 158, 126 N.W. 1027; Hale v. Cole, 31 W.Va. 576, 8 S.E. 516; Ramsdell v. Ramsdell, 128 Mich. 110, 87 N.W. 81.

The courts have universally held that no presumption of undue influence, in case of conveyance inter vivos by parent to child, arises from the mere relationship of the parties, and that therefore the burden is upon the attacking party to show undue influence. Skrinsrud v. Schwenn, 158 Wis. 142, 147 N.W. 370; Re Crissick, Iowa , 156 N.W. 415; McLeod v. McLeod, 145 Ala. 269, 117 Am. St. Rep. 41, 40 So. 414; Bain v. Bain, 150 Ala. 453, 43 So. 562; Dolberry v. Dolberry, 153 Ala. 434, 44 So. 1018; Sanders v. Gurley, 153 Ala. 459, 44 So. 1022; Neal v. Neal, 155 Ala. 604, 47 So. 66; Stanfill v. Johnson, 159 Ala. 546, 49 So. 223; Soberanes v. Soberanes, 97 Cal. 140, 31 P. 910; Becker v. Schwerdtle, 6 Cal.App. 462, 92 P. 398; Mooney v. Mooney, 80 Conn. 446, 68 A. 985; Burt v. Quisenberry, 132 Ill. 385, 24 N.E. 622; Oliphant v. Liversidge, 142 Ill. 160, 30 N.E. 334; Francis v. Wilkinson, 147 Ill. 370, 35 N.E. 150; Rickman v. Meier, 213 Ill. 507, 72 N.E. 1121; Bishop v. Hilliard, 227 Ill. 382, 81 N.E. 403; Sears v. Vaughan, 230 Ill. 572, 82 N.E. 881; Hudson v. Hudson, 237 Ill. 9, 86 N.E. 661; Fitzgerald v. Allen, 240 Ill. 80, 88 N.E. 240; McLaughlin v. McLaughlin, 241 Ill. 366, 89 N.E. 645; Kosturska v. Bartkiewictz, 241 Ill. 604, 89 N.E. 657; Tenbrook v. Brown, 17 Ind. 410; McCammack v. McCammack, 86 Ind. 387; Teegarden v. Lewis, 145 Ind. 98, 40 N.E. 1047, 44 N.E. 9; Slayback v. Witt, 151 Ind. 376, 50 N.E. 389; Curtis v. Burns, 27 Ind.App. 74, 60 N.E. 963; Samson v. Samson, 67 Iowa 253, 25 N.W. 233; Muir v. Miller, 72 Iowa 585, 34 N.W. 429; Mallow v. Walker, 115 Iowa 238, 91 Am. St. Rep. 158, 88 N.W. 452; Chidester v. Turnbull, 117 Iowa 168, 90 N.W. 583; Burrow v. Hicks, 144 Iowa 584, 120 N.W. 727; Bauer v. Bauer, 82 Md. 241, 33 A. 643; Kennedy v. McCann, 101 Md. 643, 61 A. 625; Russell v. Phillips, 145 Mich. 268, 108 N.W. 718; Jenning v. Rohde, 99 Minn. 335, 109 N.W. 597; Rader v. Rader, 108 Minn. 139, 121 N.W. 393; Naeseth v. Hommedal, 109 Minn. 153, 123 N.W. 287; Burnett v. Smith, 93 Miss. 566, 47 So. 117; McKinney v. Hensley, 74 Mo. 326; Doherty v. Noble, 138 Mo. 25, 39 S.W. 458; Hatcher v. Hatcher, 139 Mo. 614, 39 S.W. 479; McKissock v. Groom, 148 Mo. 459, 50 S.W. 115; Bonsal v. Randall, 192 Mo. 525, 111 Am. St. Rep. 528, 91 S.W. 475; Jones v. Thomas, 218 Mo. 508, 117 S.W. 1177; Gibson v. Hammang, 63 Neb. 349, 88 N.W. 500; Ward v. Ward, 86 Neb. 744, 126 N.W. 305; Justice v. Justice, N.J.Eq. , 18 A. 674; Re Flagg, 27 Misc. 401, 59 N.Y.S. 167; Toms v. Greenwood, 30 N.Y.S. R. 478, 9 N.Y.S. 666; Wessell v. Lathjohn, 89 N.C. 377, 45 Am. Rep. 696; McAdams v. McAdams, 80 Ohio St. 232, 88 N.E. 542; Kime v. Addlesperger, 24 Ohio C. C. 397; Crothers v. Crothers, 149 Pa. 201, 24 A. 190; Yeakel v. McAtee, 156 Pa. 600, 27 A. 277; Simon v. Simon, 163 Pa. 292, 29 A. 657; Knowlson v. Fleming, 165 Pa. 10, 30 A. 519; Clark v. Clark, 174 Pa. 309, 34 A. 610, 619; Campbell v. Brown, 183 Pa. 112, 38 A. 516; Carney v. Carney, 196 Pa. 34, 46 A. 264; Kleckner v. Kleckner, 212 Pa. 515, 61 A. 1019; Vaughn v. Vaughn, 217 Pa. 496, 66 A. 745; Wendt's Estate, 14 Pa. S.Ct. 644; Britton v. Britton, 23 Pa. Co. Ct. 89; Worrall's Appeal, 110 Pa. 349, 1 A. 380, 765; Travis v. Lowry, 5 Sadler (Pa.) 525, 8 A. 601; Saufley v. Jackson, 16 Tex. 579; Millican v. Millican, 24 Tex. 426; Chadd v. Moser, 25 Utah 369, 71 P. 870; Orr v. Pennington, 93 Va. 268, 24 S.E. 928; Todd v. Sykes, 97 Va. 143, 33 S.E. 517; Burwell v. Burwell, 103 Va. 314, 49 S.E. 68; Rixey v. Rixey, 103 Va. 414, 49 S.E. 586; Jenkins v. Rhodes, 106 Va. 564, 56 S.E. 332; Teter v. Teter, 59 W.Va. 449, 53 S.E. 779; Vance v. Davis, 118 Wis. 548, 95 N.W. 939; Meyer v. Arends, 126 Wis. 603, 106 N.W. 675; Mason v. Seney, 11 Grant, Ch. (U. C.) 447; Wycott v. Hartman, 14 Grant, Ch. (U. C. ) 219; Armstrong v. Armstrong, 14 Grant, Ch. (U. C.) 528; McConnell v. McConnell, 15 Grant, Ch. (U. C.) 20.

The parent, in such cases, is presumed to have been the dominant party. McLeod v. McLeod, 145 Ala. 269, 117 Am. St. Rep. 41, 40 So. 414; Dolberry v. Dolberry, 153 Ala. 434, 44 So. 1018; Sanders v. Gurley, 153 Ala. 459, 44 So. 1022; Neal v. Neal, 155 Ala. 604, 47 So. 66; McLaughlin v. McLaughlin, 241 Ill. 366, 89 N.E. 645; Mallow v. Walker, 115 Iowa 238, 91 Am. St. Rep. 158, 88 N.W. 452.

Where the parent is aged and living with the child, creates no presumption of undue influence. Bishop v. Hilliard, 227 Ill. 382, 81 N.E. 403; Bonsal v. Randall, 192 Mo. 525, 111 Am. St. Rep. 528, 91 S.W. 475; Kime v. Addlesperger, 24 Ohio C. C. 397; Chidester v. Turnbull, 117 Iowa 168, 90 N.W. 583.

The test of whether a person has mental capacity to make a deed is whether or not he is qualified to do that particular business. Nelson v. Thompson, 16 N.D. 295, 112 N.W. 1058.

Newton, Dullam, & Young, and J. T. Hoge, for respondent.

In charges of undue influence, courts should be liberal in admitting evidence of all circumstances, even though slight which might tend, in conjunction with other circumstances, to throw light upon the relation of the parties and upon the disputed question of undue influence. Clough v. Clough, 10...

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