Popko v. Janik

CourtUnited States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
Citation341 Mass. 212,167 N.E.2d 853
PartiesEdward S. POPKO v. Eugene A. JANIK et al.
Decision Date23 June 1960

Page 853

167 N.E.2d 853
341 Mass. 212
Edward S. POPKO
Eugene A. JANIK et al.
Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Hampden.
Argued March 11, 1960.
Decided June 23, 1960.

Joseph E. Kerigan, Springfield, for proponent and another.

Charles F. Ely, Westfield, for contestants.


WILLIAMS, Justice.

These are appeals by Edward S. Popko, the proponent for probate of a document purporting to be the will of Frank Sitek, late of Russell, and by Anna Antonyk, the principal beneficiary named therein, from a decree of the Probate Court disallowing the will on the ground that it was procured

Page 854

by her undue influence. The [341 Mass. 213] evidence, except that taken on the first day of the hearing, is reported and the judge has filed a voluntary report of the material facts, which are summarized as follows.

Sitek died on March 1, 1957, and the document in question was executed on December 8, 1956. By its provisions, the contestants Eugene A. Janik and Stanley W. Cioch were each bequeathed United States savings bonds with a maturity value of $1,000, and the appellant Mrs. Antonyk was left the residue of the estate. The proponent, Popko, was named executor. Sitek was sixty-one years of age, a widower, and, so far as he knew, without living relatives. Janik was a relative of Sitek's deceased wife Julia. In 1933 after the death of his parents and when about thirteen years old he had gone to live with the Siteks, and had remained with them, except for four years in military service, until his marriage in 1947. Sitek owned and occupied a house with twenty acres of land in Russell and after his marriage Janik lived near him. 'Almost every other day' he helped Sitek in the care of his property. Both he and Sitek worked at the Strathmore Paper Company. The judge found that 'there existed between the decedent and * * * Janik a relationship of love and affection as might exist between a parent and foster son,' and that Janik was the principal object of Sitek's 'bounty and affection.' Stanley W. Cioch was a nephew of Sitek's deceased wife. Anna Antonyk was a married woman with two daughters and was living apart from her husband whom she divorced late in 1956. She owned a farm in Blandford and a home in Springfield. Sitek first met her in some transaction involving the sale of a cow in 1952. Thereafter she came to the Sitek house intermittently as a housekeeper staying a day or two at a time and at least until April of 1956 was paid for her...

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7 cases
  • In re Estate of Moretti, 06-P-1722.
    • United States
    • Appeals Court of Massachusetts
    • August 1, 2007
    ...longer permitted to visit, and second wife and her daughters 69 Mass. App. Ct. 656 procured disproportionate bequests); Popko v. Janik, 341 Mass. 212, 214, 167 N.E.2d 853 (1960) (caregiver monopolized conversations with visitors to sickly decedent and answered questions addressed to deceden......
  • Bruno v. Bruno
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • July 7, 1981
    ...172, 190 N.E.2d 879 (1963). Compare the O'Brien case and Miles v. Caples, 362 Mass. 107, 113, 284 N.E.2d 231 (1972), with Popko v. Janik, 341 Mass. 212, 215, 167 N.E.2d 853 (1960), Reilly v. McAuliffe, 331 Mass. 144, 148-149, 117 N.E.2d 811 (1954), McDonald v. MacNeil, 300 Mass. 350, 352-35......
  • Larmore v. Fleet National Bank, No. 2003-1063 (R.I. Super 11/9/2006), 2003-1063.
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Rhode Island
    • November 9, 2006
    ...finding of undue influence cannot be based on "mere suspicion, surmise or conjecture." Caranci, 708 A.2d at 1327 (quoting Popko v. Janik, 341 Mass. 212, 215, 167 N.E.2d 853, 855 (1960)). Because undue influence tends to be exerted in secret, proof by direct evidence is unlikely and circumst......
  • Tetrault v. Mahoney, Hawkes & Goldings
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • July 16, 1997
    ...'There must be a solid foundation of established facts upon which to rest an inference of its existence' "). See Popko v. Janik, 341 Mass. 212, 215, 167 N.E.2d 853 (1960); O'Brien v. Collins, 315 Mass. 429, 437, 53 N.E.2d 222 11 We note also that there was no allegation that would support a......
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