Morgan v. Muench, No. 30576.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Writing for the CourtPRESTON
Citation156 N.W. 819,181 Iowa 719
Docket NumberNo. 30576.
Decision Date11 March 1916
PartiesMORGAN v. MUENCH.

181 Iowa 719
156 N.W. 819

MORGAN
v.
MUENCH.

No. 30576.

Supreme Court of Iowa.

March 11, 1916.


Appeal from District Court, Plymouth County; Wm. Hutchinson, Judge.

Action at law to recover damages for breach of promise of marriage. There was a trial to a jury, and a verdict and judgment for plaintiff for $15,000. Defendant appeals. Affirmed.

[156 N.W. 820]

T. M. Zink, of Le Mars, for appellant.

Addison G. Kistle, of Council Bluffs, and Sammis & Bradley, of Le Mars, for appellee.


PRESTON, J.

The record is a very long one. Forty-nine errors, which take up 14 pages of the argument, are assigned, but they are not all argued. Appellant's first abstract contains 51 pages, but he has filed an additional abstract of 225 pages, and still another short one; and appellant has filed an additional argument; appellee, an additional abstract and an additional argument.

The story of this case commences in 1909. At that time plaintiff was about 20 years of age, and defendant 37 or 38. Appellant's first wife was an aunt by blood of the plaintiff. Plaintiff went to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Muench near Paullina, Iowa, in the summer or fall of 1909. Appellee taught one term of school, which appellant assisted her in obtaining, and he drove her to and from school a few times during the term. When plaintiff went to defendant's house he and his wife were not getting along together and were then contemplating a divorce. The divorce matter was frequently discused in the plaintiff's presence. Plaintiff knew of the marriage of defendant and his first wife and their relations until a divorce was granted to appellant in October, 1911.

Plaintiff testifies, and it does not seem to be denied by defendant, that in July, 1910, he told her he had applied for the contemplated divorce. The divorce was not resisted. There appears to have been no trouble between defendant and his first wife over plaintiff. Appellant appears to have been attractive in appearance. Plaintiff made her home with defendant and his first wife from the time she went there until the decree of divorce was granted, and she remained there after the divorce until about March, 1912. Defendant married his second wife on March 11, 1913.

Soon after plaintiff's arrival at defendant's home, he began to pay some attentions to her, according to her story, and used to drive her back and forth from school. Some six or eight weeks after her arrival, while he was taking her to school, he attempted to kiss her, but she refused. She says several such attempts were made, and some three months after she went there he asked to kiss her, and she refused, but he did so anyway. This appears to have been about February, 1910. There is a sharp conflict in the testimony at some points, but she testifies, and the jury could have believed, that in April, 1910, she quit teaching school and was going away to work, but defendant wanted her to stay and told her she didn't need to work and promised her a team of colts if she would remain there, and bought the team of colts and gave them to her; that defendant continued his familiarities when opportunity offered, without suggesting any additional improprieties, up to June, 1910. About that time the parties were fishing on his farm when he told her how much he thought of her; that he was getting a divorce from his wife and that he wanted to marry her. She told him she would think it over, and in a conversation a few days later, and after two or three discussions of the matter, she told him she would marry him when he had obtained his divorce. Thereafter they talked about their proposed marriage and he continued his love-making whenever there was opportunity.

About two weeks after she had consented to the proposed marriage, he proposed that they take a trip together to the Yellowstone Park. She says she told him that she ought not to do that, and at first said she would not do so, but that he pictured the trip out so grand and told her he was going to marry her as soon as he got his divorce and that he had started proceedings, and she finally consented. She claims that by arrangement and pretending she was starting for Massena, Iowa, where her sister lived, she went to Sioux City, where he met her; that they proceeded together to Omaha and to Yellowstone. They remained all night at Omaha, where he registered them as man and wife, and they occupied the same room. She claims that here there were further assurances that he would marry her after he had obtained a divorce, and she says that sexual intercourse occurred between them that night for the first time. They completed their trip through Yellowstone Park, traveling as and representing themselves to be man and wife,

[156 N.W. 821]

and returned to Omaha in about two weeks, from where she went to Massena and visited with her sister about three months. During the time she remained in Massena he wrote her one or two letters a week, in which he told her how lonesome he was, and how he missed her, and how he longed to see her, and for the time to come when he could marry her, and wanted her to come back to Paullina as soon as she could. While at Massena defendant wrote her, and they took another trip to Omaha, where they stayed together at a hotel, and went to Sioux City together. She returned to defendant's home in November, 1910, where she continued to live until after the divorce was granted. Defendant denies all intercourse, and plaintiff testified that they sustained no illicit relations at his place prior to the divorce. She testifies that defendant continued to talk to her nearly every day about marriage and of his feelings for her.

It appears that the divorce decree contained no provision permitting either party to marry within a year. She says her relations continued after the divorce was granted; that he continued to talk to her about marriage every day sometimes, and he said that one year after the divorce was granted he would marry her. There is evidence that following the divorce the parties resumed their sexual intercourse and he frequently occupied the same room with her at night; that he would come to her room about 10 o'clock and stay until morning. He told her about his property. She left to go to Waterloo to work about March 1, 1912. He told her that as soon as the year was up after he got his divorce he would marry her, and she says he cried that she was going and said he would come to see her, and asked her to write and said he would, and they did; that she did not keep copies of her letters and destroyed a part of his letters at his request. She testifies that in obedience to his written request she met him at Ft. Dodge on several different occasions, where they would stay at a hotel as man and wife, and that he came to see her at Waterloo; that they made trips at various times to other towns, on each of which intercourse was indulged in, after which she would return to Waterloo; that on such occasions they discussed their proposed marriage, where they would live, the kind of a house he would build, and other like matters, and discussed the kind of furniture they would have in their home. During her residence in Waterloo, plaintiff received letters from defendant, some of which she retained, together with the envelopes in which they were received; these were introduced in evidence, and they corroborate her story as to the relations between them, and his agreements to marry and kindred subjects.

Defendant denies that he ever wrote or mailed any of these letters, but there is evidence from which the jury could have found that he did. A witness for defendant testified that plaintiff told him that she took the trip through the Yellowstone Park with a traveling man and was going to claim that it was defendant, and that plaintiff told him that defendant had never promised to marry her.

A witness, Mrs. Peddicord, testified that plaintiff roomed at her house for about seven months after March 8, 1912, and that during that time defendant had been at her house to see plaintiff; that he stayed two successive nights, and testified to admissions by defendant tending to refute his claim that he had written no letters to plaintiff. Plaintiff says that she stayed at a hotel in Fonda with defendant March 5, 1913, and that at this meeting defendant said to her that he would come to her in Waterloo in about two weeks, and that they would be married, and that everything was settled, and that she consented to this. He married his present wife with whom he had been keeping company several months on March 11, 1913, six days after plaintiff says defendant spent the night with her. She testifies that she never heard from him after they stopped at Fonda. She testifies as to the sleepless nights and other effects which defendant's marriage to his second wife had upon her. She testifies she would not have sustained the relations with defendant which she did but for his promises to marry her, and that she relied thereon and believed he would; that she never had sexual intercourse with any other man than defendant.

Defendant also claimed to have made a settlement of plaintiff's claim for $300, but we do not understand that question to be in controversy upon this appeal.

[1][2][3] We have not set out all the testimony. It is necessarily incomplete. There is evidence in the record which would justify the jury in finding that there was a...

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26 practice notes
  • Amos v. Prom, Civ. No. 571.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • September 30, 1953
    ...an exception for "aggravated" damages for breach of a marriage promise where there has been seduction. See e. g. Morgan v. Muench, 1916, 181 Iowa 719, 156 N.W. Defendant's contention is that there is no sufficient allegation of malice in plaintiff's complaint to permit any award of exemplar......
  • Stockdale v. Agrico Chemical Co., Div. of Con. Oil Co., Civ. No. 69-C-2010-C.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • March 21, 1972
    ...should be denied. See Graessle v. Carpenter, 70 Iowa 166, 30 N.W. 392; Sokolowske v. Wilson, 211 Iowa 1112, 235 N.W. 80; Morgan v. Muench, 181 Iowa 719, 156 N.W. 819. The ultrahazardous conduct of the defendant was not in this case sufficient to show malice or In answer to the petition, the......
  • Gregory v. Sorenson, No. 40973.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • April 5, 1932
    ...Co., 147 Iowa, 142, 124 N. W. 189;White v. International Text Book Co., 164 Iowa, 693, 146 N. W. 829;Morgan v. Muench, 181 Iowa, 719, 156 N. W. 819;Stricklen v. Pearson Construction Co. (185 Iowa, 95, 169 N. W. 628), supra. See Boom v. Boom, 206 Iowa, 70, local citation, 74, 220 N. W. 17. A......
  • Kralick v. Shuttleworth, 5421
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court
    • June 4, 1930
    ...man. And so it was held in Baird v. Boehner, 77 Iowa 622, 42 N.W. 454, Fisher v. Bolton, 148 Iowa 651, 127 N.W. 979, and Morgan v. Muench, 181 Iowa 719, 156 N.W. 819. Her motives, the probabilities of her believing the defendant's later promise to marry her, etc., are all matters to be pres......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
26 cases
  • Amos v. Prom, Civ. No. 571.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • September 30, 1953
    ...an exception for "aggravated" damages for breach of a marriage promise where there has been seduction. See e. g. Morgan v. Muench, 1916, 181 Iowa 719, 156 N.W. Defendant's contention is that there is no sufficient allegation of malice in plaintiff's complaint to permit any award of exemplar......
  • Stockdale v. Agrico Chemical Co., Div. of Con. Oil Co., Civ. No. 69-C-2010-C.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • March 21, 1972
    ...should be denied. See Graessle v. Carpenter, 70 Iowa 166, 30 N.W. 392; Sokolowske v. Wilson, 211 Iowa 1112, 235 N.W. 80; Morgan v. Muench, 181 Iowa 719, 156 N.W. 819. The ultrahazardous conduct of the defendant was not in this case sufficient to show malice or In answer to the petition, the......
  • Gregory v. Sorenson, No. 40973.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • April 5, 1932
    ...Co., 147 Iowa, 142, 124 N. W. 189;White v. International Text Book Co., 164 Iowa, 693, 146 N. W. 829;Morgan v. Muench, 181 Iowa, 719, 156 N. W. 819;Stricklen v. Pearson Construction Co. (185 Iowa, 95, 169 N. W. 628), supra. See Boom v. Boom, 206 Iowa, 70, local citation, 74, 220 N. W. 17. A......
  • Kralick v. Shuttleworth, 5421
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court
    • June 4, 1930
    ...man. And so it was held in Baird v. Boehner, 77 Iowa 622, 42 N.W. 454, Fisher v. Bolton, 148 Iowa 651, 127 N.W. 979, and Morgan v. Muench, 181 Iowa 719, 156 N.W. 819. Her motives, the probabilities of her believing the defendant's later promise to marry her, etc., are all matters to be pres......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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