Rankin v. Harper

Decision Date31 October 1856
Citation23 Mo. 579
PartiesRANKIN, Respondent, v. HARPER et al., Appellants.
CourtMissouri Supreme Court

1. A father purchased land in the name of his son with intent to defraud his creditors; held, 1st, that the contemplated fraud upon creditors repelled the presumption of an advancement to the child; that consequently there was a resulting trust to the father for the benefit of his creditors; 2d, that this interest in the father was subject to seizure and sale on execution under judgments in favor of such creditors.

2. A defendant can not be a witness for his co-defendant.

3. Where, upon the polling of a jury, eleven assent to the verdict, and one juror, in answer to the question of the clerk, “is this your verdict?” answers as follows: “It is, as far as it goes;” held, this answer does not invalidate the verdict.

4. A. having purchased a tract of land, it was conveyed to a son of A. with intent to defraud the creditors of A.; held, in a suit to annul this deed in behalf of one of those creditors who had purchased the land at a sale on execution under a judgment in his favor against A., that evidence was inadmissible to show, in behalf of defendants, the pecuniary circumstances of A. several years after the conveyance to his son.

Appeal from St. Louis Land Court.

The petition of the plaintiff, Harper, sets forth substantially that plaintiff is entitled to the possession of the land in controversy; that one Otis West, under whom plaintiff claims, purchased the same at a sheriff's sale on execution under a judgment against Daniel Harper, one of the defendants, and received the sheriff's deed therefor dated May 15, 1846; that defendants have been in unlawful possession of said premises since May 15, 1846; that “in the year 1839, the said Daniel Harper was largely indebted, and was in fact insolvent; and that at said time he was indebted to Josiah Pope and Otis West in about the sum of $300; that in said year 1839, said Daniel Harper purchased the tract of ground above described and paid for the same; that the said Daniel Harper, with the intent and for the purpose of defrauding, hindering and delaying his creditors, procured a deed to be made to the said Orrin Harper, a son of the said Daniel Harper, then a boy not over the age of eight years; that said Daniel Harper refused to permit the deed to be made to himself, though he paid the purchase money; a part of which purchase money, so paid for said ground, was received by said Harper for and on account of the goods and merchandise purchased by the said Daniel Harper of the said Pope & West in year 1837, and which was never paid for by said Daniel Harper up to the time of the sale of the above described tract of ground to said West in the year 1846. Plaintiff states that said conveyance to Orrin Harper, made as aforesaid for the purpose of hindering and delaying the creditors of the said Daniel Harper, was and is clearly and utterly void. Plaintiff asks judgment for the recovery of the above described premises, for the rent of the same for five years next preceding the filing of this petition, together with damages and costs. Plaintiff further asks that said conveyance to Orrin Harper be declared void, and that the said defendants be compelled to convey said premises to said plaintiff, or that the court will do it for them; and for such other and further relief as the said plaintiff may be entitled to in the premises.”

Daniel Harper answered, denying the fraud in the petition. Orrin Harper answered by a guardian ad litem in the common form, submitting the rights of the infant to the protection of the court.

The evidence introduced tended to prove the truth of the facts charged in the petition. It appeared that Josiah Pope and Otis West, of the firm of Pope & West, in the year 1844, recovered a judgment for $317.81 against Daniel Harper upon an indebtedness which had accrued in their favor previously to the purchase of the land in controversy by Daniel Harper, and the conveyance to his minor son Orrin Harper; that execution issued February 9th, 1846, and was levied upon the land in controversy in April, 1846, to pay an unsatisfied balance; that Otis West became the purchaser at the sheriff's sale, and received the sheriff's deed therefor dated May 16, 1846. Defendants offered to prove the state of Daniel Harper's pecuniary circumstances in the year 1842 and later. The court excluded the testimony. Plaintiff in reply introduced in evidence the sheriff's return on the execution against Harper dated February 9, 1846, to the effect that “no goods and chattels of Harper were found out of which to make the balance of the execution.” Defendants then again offered to prove that, during the whole time of the life of the execution, said Harper was the visible and known proprietor of a large amount of personal property subject to execution, more than sufficient to satisfy the same. The court excluded the testimony. Daniel Harper was offered as a witness for his co-defendant, Orrin Harper, but was rejected by the court.

The court, on the motion of plaintiff, gave the following instructions: “1. If the jury find from the evidence, that, at the time of the purchase of the lot described in plaintiff's petition by Daniel Harper, said Harper was indebted to Pope & West; that said Harper paid the purchase money for said lot, and caused said lot to be conveyed to said Orrin Harper, with the intent or for the purpose of hindering, delaying, or defrauding his creditors,--they will find the issue for the plaintiffs. 2. If the jury find the issues (declared to them by the court) for the defendant, they ought to say so in their verdict, and need say no more. If they find the said issues for the plaintiff, they ought also to assess damages for the detention of the land, and declare the monthly value of the land.”

The defendants moved the court to give the following instructions: “1. If Harper, the father, at the time of his purchase of his son, was solvent, and did not intend by such purchase to cheat or defraud his creditors, then the son, by the purchase and deed to him, acquired the title to the land, and the plaintiff can not recover. 2. If Harper had, at the time of the levy and sale on execution, property other than the land now in dispute sufficient to satisfy said execution, and which was openly and notoriously held by him, then Otis West, one of the judgment creditors, did not acquire any title to the land in dispute by the sheriff's deed. 3. The sheriff's deed read in evidence to Otis West was inoperative and void, and passed no title.” The court refused to instruct the jury as requested by defendants. Exceptions were duly taken.

The jury found for the plaintiff, and assigned his monthly damages “at the sum of fifty cents per month for the time said plaintiff was kept from possession of the premises.” Upon the return of the jury with a written verdict, on the motion of defendants, the jury was polled. Eleven of the jurors assented to the verdict. One juror, in answer to the question of the clerk, “is this your verdict?” said “it is, as far as it goes.” The defendants objected to the reception of the verdict. The court ordered the verdict to be received as the unanimous finding of the jury.

The court, by its own decree, annulled the conveyance of May 10, 1839, to Orrin Harper, and vested all the right, title and interest of the defendants, Daniel and Orrin Harper, in and to the tract of land in controversy, in the plaintiff, Harper; and ordered “that plaintiff recover of said defendants the monthly damages aforesaid, in form aforesaid as assessed, together with costs,” &c. Defendants appealed to this court.

R. M. Field, for appellants.

I. In the most favorable aspect of the case for the plaintiff, the defendant Daniel Harper made a fraudulent purchase for his son. It is conceded that a court of equity would, in favor of a creditor, raise out of the property purchased the money advanced by the father. But the father had no estate or interest in the land to be sold on execution. (R. C. 1845, p. 478.) There is no resulting trust in favor of a parent purchasing in the name of a child. (2 Sugd. on Vend. 145; Matthews' Presump. Ev. 61; 2 Johns. Ch. 405; 17 Eng. Ch. R. 447.) The statute against fraudulent conveyances only avoids fraudulent sales in favor of creditors of the grantor. (R. C. 1845, p. 525.) To apply the statute to the present case would manifestly defeat the object of the plaintiff; for, if the deed from Daniels to Orrin Harper were void, then the title to the land in controversy still remained in Daniels, and the plaintiff could not recover. That a fraudulent purchase is not within the statute against fraudulent conveyances appears from the following authorities: Roberts on Fraudulent Conveyances, 463; 1 Yerg. 79; 7 Yerg. 155; Gowing v. Rich, 1 Iredell, 553.

II. The court below erred in excluding Daniel Harper as a witness on behalf of his co-defendant. The father, though a formal party on the record, had really no interest in the controversy. He claimed no estate in the land. It was indifferent to him whether the land was adjudged to his creditor or his son. The suit was equitable in its character, and the present question must be judged by the rules prevailing in courts of equity. The established rule in equity is, that a defendant having no interest is a competent witness. (McDonald v. Neilson, 2 Cow. 133; Kirk v. Hodgson, 2 Johns. Ch. 550; Rutter v. Elliot, 15 Conn. 187; Ridgway v. Newbold, 1 Harring. 385; 1 Bland, 508; 2 McCord's Ch. 185, 205; 1 Jones' Eq. 24; 5 Paige, 633; 1 Green's Ch. 321.) The new practice act has not changed the rule. (1 Code Rep. 123; Id. 113; 9 How. P. R. 385.) Nor is it material that the witness might have been subjected to costs. (Burns v. Taylor, 23 Ala. 255.) Nor under the practice here was any previous order necessary. (Black. v....

To continue reading

Request your trial
29 cases
  • Keyes v. C.B. & Q. Railroad Co.
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court
    • September 4, 1930
    ...have been entered for the defendant. The poll was conclusive. Cattell v. Publishing Co., 88 Mo. 356; Norvell v. Deval, 50 Mo. 272; Rankin v. Harper, 23 Mo. 579; Roman v. King, 268 S.W. 414; Poulson v. Collier, 18 Mo. App. 583; 2 Thomp. Trials (2 Ed.) 1917; 27 R.C.L. 895, secs. 6, 10; Perry ......
  • Keyes v. Chicago, B. & Q. R. Co.
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court
    • September 4, 1930
    ...have been entered for the defendant. The poll was conclusive. Cattell v. Publishing Co., 88 Mo. 356; Norvell v. Deval, 50 Mo. 272; Rankin v. Harper, 23 Mo. 579; Roman King, 268 S.W. 414; Poulson v. Collier, 18 Mo.App. 583; 2 Thomp. Trials (2 Ed.) 1917; 27 R. C. L. 895, secs. 6, 10; Perry v.......
  • The Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Company v. Smith
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court
    • June 27, 1893
    ... ... execution, and that the purchaser can maintain a suit to ... establish his equitable right. Rankin v. Harper, 23 ... Mo. 579; Eddy v. Baldwin, 23 Mo. 588; Bobb v ... Woodward, 50 Mo. 101; Morgan v. Bouse, 53 Mo ... 219. (8) The deed of ... ...
  • McMurray v. McMurray
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court
    • March 17, 1904
    ... ... Renoe, 12 Mo. 157; Paul v. Chouteau, 14 Mo ... 580; Groves' Heirs v. Fulsome, 16 Mo. 543; ... Valle v. Bryan, 19 Mo. 423; Rankin v ... Harper, 23 Mo. 579; Kelly v. Johnson, 28 Mo ... 249; Cloud v. Ivie, 28 Mo. 578; Evans v ... Gibson, 29 Mo. 223; Baumgartner v. Guessfeld, ... ...
  • 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