Mathews v. Pratt, No. 49482

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Missouri
Writing for the CourtEAGER
Citation367 S.W.2d 632
PartiesThomas A. MATHEWS, Executor of the Estate of Martha Jane White, deceased, Appellant, v. Esther PRATT and Hughes Pratt, Respondents
Decision Date13 May 1963
Docket NumberNo. 49482,No. 2

Page 632

367 S.W.2d 632
Thomas A. MATHEWS, Executor of the Estate of Martha Jane
White, deceased, Appellant,
v.
Esther PRATT and Hughes Pratt, Respondents.
No. 49482.
Supreme Court of Missouri, Division No. 2.
May 13, 1963.

Page 633

Roberts & Roberts, by Raymond R. Roberts, Farmington, for appellant.

McClintock & Medley, by E. L. McClintock, Jr., Flat River, for respondents.

EAGER, Presiding Judge.

This is an appeal from an order dismissing plaintiff's petition; since the dismissal was not stated to be without prejudice, it constituted a final judgment. Section 510.150. (All statutory citations are to RSMo 1959, V.A.M.S., unless otherwise stated.) The stated grounds of the order were that the 'petition fails to state a cause of action and because plaintiff has an adequate remedy at law.' It is plaintiff's (appellant's) position that the suit is one in equity, that it states facts entitling plaintiff to a decree declaring and enforcing a trust, and that plaintiff had and has not adequate remedy at law,--more specifically in the Probate Court by a proceeding for the discovery of assets. Sections 473.340-473.350. It is defendants' (respondents') position that the exclusive remedy of plaintiff lay in the Probate Court in a proceeding for the discovery of assets, that this is not 'a purely equitable matter,' and that the Circuit Court was without jurisdiction. While other questions were raised in the motion, the issues here are strictly limited by the briefs and the oral argument.

The petition, reduced to its essentials, alleged in substance: that plaintiff is the Executor of Martha J. White, deceased; that Martha's will (we shall so designate her for brevity) after two specific bequests, bequeathed the residue of her estate to four nieces and nephews, including defendant Esther Pratt, share and share alike; that prior to August 22, 1946, Martha opened a checking account, in November 1955 she opened a savings account, and prior to January 10, 1961, she opened another savings account; that at certain times after the respective accounts were so opened the name of Esther Pratt 'was added to' the several respective accounts 'as a co-depositor'; that the same procedure was followed in another savings account which had previously stood in the joint names of Martha and another, after the death of the other; that these four accounts were in three separate banks or savings institutions; that all the monies so deposited belonged exclusively

Page 634

to Martha and were deposited by her; that at the time (times) when the name of Esther Pratt was so added to these respective accounts, Martha was old and infirm, and was unable to go about, pay her bills or write checks; that when the name of Esther was so added, this was done 'for the sole purpose of enabling Esther Pratt * * * to write checks * * * and pay the bills of Martha * * *,' and 'with the understanding and agreement' between Martha and Esther that funds would not be drawn from said account(s) except to pay Martha's bills, and that, in the event of Martha's death, Esther would pay the said funds as provided in Martha's will; that Esther was not to have said funds as her own, and that her name was so added only after she had specifically agreed to hold said funds for the benefit of the beneficiaries named in the will; that Esther knew that her name would not otherwise have been 'added'; that the defendants, Esther and her husband, did so agree fraudulently and with intent to deceive, and thus led Martha to believe, both before and after the adding of Esther's name, that they would so hold the funds in trust; that they fraudulently told Martha not to tell her friends or relatives of the changes in the accounts; that they fraudulently told the beneficiaries that Martha did not have enough money to pay her debts and obligations, and that they attempted to coerce some of the beneficiaries into paying some of the debts; that Martha relied on Esther to pay her bills and take her around, at and prior to the change in the deposits, and that a fiduciary relationship existed between them; that Esther had undue influence over Martha, and that responding thereto, Martha had implicit faith in Esther and stated that Esther would 'live up to her agreement'; that Esther had fraudulently stated on numerous occasions that she would not claim any of the said funds, but that, following the death of Martha, the defendants fraudulently and with intent to convert, transferred all of the said funds (some $16,467.59) to a joint account of their own. The prayer was that the court find and adjudge that the said funds, in equity and good conscience, belonged to the estate of Martha, that a resulting trust be adjudged, that the written contract expressed in the signature cards 'of the joint accounts' be cancelled, and that the court enter an order that the said money, with all accumulations, be paid over to Martha's estate. (All italics are ours.)

'In determining if a petition states a claim or cause of action, the averments of the petition are to be given a liberal construction, according the averments their reasonable and fair intendment--fair implication...

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20 practice notes
  • Kwoun v. Southeast Mo. Pro. Standards Review Org., No. S84-259C(D).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Missouri)
    • 19 Septiembre 1985
    ...alleged, giving them liberal construction and give plaintiff the benefit of all fair implications from such facts. Matthews v. Pratt, 367 S.W.2d 632, 634 In the present case plaintiffs allege that defendants willfully issued a sanction report calling for permanent exclusion which contained ......
  • Taylor-Mcdonald v. Taylor, No. 28088.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • 10 Enero 2008
    ...to establish, declare apd enforce trusts may certainly not be foreclosed by probate jurisdiction or proceedings." Mathews v. Pratt, 367 S.W.2d 632, 637 (Mo.1963). Missouri precedent clearly establishes that circuit courts have concurrent jurisdiction with the probate courts over actions in ......
  • Counts v. Morrison-Knudsen, Inc., MORRISON-KNUDSE
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • 16 Diciembre 1983
    ...614 S.W.2d 266, 271[2-4] (Mo.App.1981) (citing authorities). The petition must be accorded a liberal construction. Matthews v. Pratt, 367 S.W.2d 632, 634 (Mo.1963); Maples v. Porath, 638 S.W.2d 337 (Mo.App.1982). So viewed, Count I of the petition, in addition to alleging the legal status o......
  • First Nat. Bank of Kansas City v. Mercantile Bank & Trust Co., No. 50061
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court
    • 9 Marzo 1964
    ...enforce its orders, judgments and decrees in probate matters as the circuit court has in other matters * * *.' See Mathews v. Pratt, Mo., 367 S.W.2d 632, 635[4-6]; State ex rel. Baker v. Bird, 253 Mo. 569, 162 S.W. 119, 122[2-4]; Peck v. Fillingham's Estate, 199 Mo.App. 277, 202 S.W. 465, 4......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
20 cases
  • Kwoun v. Southeast Mo. Pro. Standards Review Org., No. S84-259C(D).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Missouri)
    • 19 Septiembre 1985
    ...alleged, giving them liberal construction and give plaintiff the benefit of all fair implications from such facts. Matthews v. Pratt, 367 S.W.2d 632, 634 In the present case plaintiffs allege that defendants willfully issued a sanction report calling for permanent exclusion which contained ......
  • Taylor-Mcdonald v. Taylor, No. 28088.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • 10 Enero 2008
    ...to establish, declare apd enforce trusts may certainly not be foreclosed by probate jurisdiction or proceedings." Mathews v. Pratt, 367 S.W.2d 632, 637 (Mo.1963). Missouri precedent clearly establishes that circuit courts have concurrent jurisdiction with the probate courts over actions in ......
  • Counts v. Morrison-Knudsen, Inc., MORRISON-KNUDSE
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • 16 Diciembre 1983
    ...614 S.W.2d 266, 271[2-4] (Mo.App.1981) (citing authorities). The petition must be accorded a liberal construction. Matthews v. Pratt, 367 S.W.2d 632, 634 (Mo.1963); Maples v. Porath, 638 S.W.2d 337 (Mo.App.1982). So viewed, Count I of the petition, in addition to alleging the legal status o......
  • First Nat. Bank of Kansas City v. Mercantile Bank & Trust Co., No. 50061
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court
    • 9 Marzo 1964
    ...enforce its orders, judgments and decrees in probate matters as the circuit court has in other matters * * *.' See Mathews v. Pratt, Mo., 367 S.W.2d 632, 635[4-6]; State ex rel. Baker v. Bird, 253 Mo. 569, 162 S.W. 119, 122[2-4]; Peck v. Fillingham's Estate, 199 Mo.App. 277, 202 S.W. 465, 4......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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