Matthews v. Westborough

Decision Date21 November 1881
Citation131 Mass. 521
PartiesMichael Matthews v. Inhabitants of Westborough
CourtUnited States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts Supreme Court

Worcester. Contract to recover $ 500, alleged to have been voted to the plaintiff by the defendant town. At the trial in the Superior Court, before Aldrich, J., the jury returned a verdict for the defendant; and the plaintiff alleged exceptions. The facts appear in the opinion.

Exceptions sustained.

G. F Verry, for the plaintiff.

W. S B. Hopkins, (L. K. Travis with him,) for the defendant.

Devens J. Lord & Allen JJ., absent.


Devens, J.

It is in the power of towns to settle claims which may be made upon them arising out of their administration of their municipal affairs. A vote to appropriate money for such a purpose is therefore binding upon them, even if upon subsequent examination it is ascertained that the claim which was to be settled thereby was one which could not have been successfully maintained. Nelson v. Milford, 7 Pick. 18. Bancroft v. Lynnfield, 18 Pick. 566. They have no authority to appropriate money for gratuities to persons whose situation may appeal to public sympathy. Fowler v. Danvers, 8 Allen 80. Cooley v. Granville, 10 Cush. 56. Tash v. Adams, 10 Cush. 252. This is in accordance with the instructions of the learned judge who presided at the trial; but in ascertaining whether the vote of the town was for the purpose of settling a claim or of appropriating for a gratuity, he was of opinion that it was to be definitely determined by the form in which the application of the plaintiff was made; and that, if such application were for aid only, and not upon the ground that the town was legally liable to compensate him, the vote of the town would be invalid. The form in which the application of the plaintiff was made was certainly important, but it was not necessarily conclusive of the character of the vote of the town. One who believes himself to have a legal claim may see fit to put it in the form of an application for assistance, and upon such application it may be recognized by the town that there is such legal claim as to be fairly a subject of dispute and settlement. The conduct of the town as well as that of the plaintiff is to be considered; and it is to be determined in view of both whether the vote was to satisfy and compromise a claim or merely to provide a gratuity.

There was evidence that the plaintiff applied to the selectmen for aid as a gratuity, because he had been...

To continue reading

Request your trial
29 cases
  • Nutt v. Forsythe
    • United States
    • Mississippi Supreme Court
    • March 28, 1904
  • Town of Burlington v. Dunn
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts Supreme Court
    • May 7, 1945
    ...88, 89;Sherman v. Torrey, 99 Mass. 472;Whitney v. Stow, 111 Mass. 368, 370;Wood v. Jewell, 130 Mass. 270, 271;Matthews v. Westborough, 131 Mass. 521, 522, 523;Coffin v. Lawrence, 143 Mass. 110, 9 N.E. 6;Tuckerman v. Moynihan, 282 Mass. 562, 565, 185 N.E. 2. The case of Fitzgerald v. Selectm......
  • Connor v. Morse
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts Supreme Court
    • April 14, 1939 act upon this theory. This was making a gift, not a settlement. It was therefore beyond the power of the council. Matthews v. Westborough, 131 Mass. 521;Id., 134 Mass. 555;Whittaker v. Salem, 216 Mass. 483, 104 N.E. 359, Ann.Cas.1915B, 794;Jones v. Natick, 267 Mass. 567, 166 N.E. 754. Se......
  • Eisenstadt v. Suffolk County
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts Supreme Court
    • July 7, 1954
    ...stated that the city could not grant additional pay as a gratuity to its employees for work already performed. See also Matthews v. Westborough, 131 Mass. 521, 522. 'The power of the Legislature to appropriate money from the treasury of the commonwealth, for any other than a public purpose,......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT