Schuler v. Schuler, No. 29460

CourtCourt of Appeal of Missouri (US)
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM; ANDERSON, P. J., RUDDY, J., and SAM C. BLAIR
Citation290 S.W.2d 192
PartiesVivian I. SCHULER (Plaintiff), Appellant, v. Frederick L. SCHULER, non compos mentis, and Robert C. Reis, Guardian of the Person and Estate of Frederick L. Schuler, non compos mentis (Defendants), Respondents.
Decision Date15 May 1956
Docket NumberNo. 29460

Page 192

290 S.W.2d 192
Vivian I. SCHULER (Plaintiff), Appellant,
v.
Frederick L. SCHULER, non compos mentis, and Robert C. Reis,
Guardian of the Person and Estate of Frederick L.
Schuler, non compos mentis (Defendants),
Respondents.
No. 29460.
St. Louis Court of Appeals, Missouri.
May 15, 1956.

Boggiano & Hessel, Stephen A. Boggiano, St. Louis, for appellant.

Robert C. Reis, St. Louis, for respondents.

HOUSER, Commissioner.

On January 25, 1955 Vivian I. Schuler filed a petition for divorce against her husband, Frederick L. Schuler, non compos mentis, joining the guardian of his person and estate (an attorney) as a party defendant. The petition, inter

Page 192

alia, alleged the marriage on October 25, 1919, brief periods of separation during the intervening years, final separation in June, 1938, sanity from 1919 to June 1938, adjudication of Frederick as a person of unsound mind on September 16, 1938, his confinement since that date in a state hospital, the guardian's appointment and numerous indignities afforded to plaintiff during the period of cohabitation including a quarrelsome nature, violent temper, gambling, repeated requests for a divorce, refusal to pay for necessary operations, association with other women and numerous physical assaults upon plaintiff. The guardian's answer admitted the marriage and other formal allegations, denied the indignities and affirmatively pleaded Frederick's incapacity and unsoundness of mind 'for a number of years prior to September 16, 1938,' the date of the adjudication. At the close of all the evidence the court took the matter under advisement, later dismissed plaintiff's petition and denied her a decree of divorce. Following an unavailing motion for new trial plaintiff appealed.

A careful review of the evidence reveals that plaintiff is entitled to a decree of divorce if under the evidence Frederick was not of unsound mind but was legally accountable for his acts to and through June, 1938, provided Frederick's right as an incompetent under guardianship have been properly protected. A detailed narrative of Frederick's marital offenses is not necessary because neither the sufficiency of the various indignities to render plaintiff's condition intolerable nor the proof of plaintiff's innocence is challenged.

The parties are not in agreement as to the burden of proof. Plaintiff contends that defendants had the burden of proof of insanity, while defendants contend that plaintiff had the burden of proof of sanity.

There is a legal presumption, applicable in divorce cases, Willis v. Willis, Mo.App., 274 S.W.2d 621, and Dunn v. Dunn, 240 Mo.App. 87, 216 S.W.2d 141, that every person is sane. Fendler v. Roy, 331 Mo. 1083, 58 S.W.2d 459; Reynolds v. Maryland Casualty Co., 274 Mo. 83, 201 S.W. 1128; State ex rel. Bevan v. Williams, 316 Mo. 665, 291 S.W. 481; 31 C.J.S., Evidence, Sec. 147, p. 826; 28 Am.Jur., Insane and Other Incompetent Persons, Sec. 121, p. 751; Jones on Evidence, Fourth Edition, Vol. 1,Sec. 59. This presumption obtains until it takes flight in the light of contrary evidence, Willis v. Willis, supra; Edwards v. Business Men's Assur. Co. of America, 350 Mo. 666, 168 S.W.2d 82; State ex rel. Bevan v. Williams, supra, but the allegation and suggestion by a plaintiff of the insanity of defendant and that defendant

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was previously adjudicated to be a person of unsound mind does not destroy the presumption that defendant was sane prior to the date of adjudication. While such adjudication and the appointment of a guardian gives rise to a presumption of continued mental incapacity (unless accidental or temporary in nature), State ex rel. Bartlett v. Littrell, 325 Mo. 35, 26 S.W.2d 768; Kiehne v. Wessell, 53 Mo.App. 667; Richardson v. Smart, 65 Mo.App. 14; First Christian Church in Salem v. McReynolds, 194 Or. 68, 241 P.2d 135; Schindler v. Parzoo, 52 Or. 452, 97 P. 755, that presumption is prospective in its operation from the date of the adjudication, Shupp v. Farrar, 85 Ohio App. 366, 88 N.E.2d 924; First Christian Church in Salem v. McReynolds, supra, and not retrospective. Rath's Committee v. Smith, 180 Ky. 326, 202 S.W. 501; Shupp v. Farrar, supra, 88 N.E.2d loc. cit. 926: 'Contestants contend also that from the adjudication of insanity on November 24, 1947, it is presumed that the witness was insane on August 8, 1947. The general rule is that presumptions are prospective and not retrospective. * * *' An adjudication of insanity does not determine the insanity of a person at a prior time. In Rhoades v. Fuller, 139 Mo. 179, 40 S.W. 760, a suit to rescind a contract for the exchange of real property on the ground of the insanity of the grantor at the time of the trade, the trial court was convicted of reversible error in admitting in evidence the record of the insanity inquest (at which the grantor was adjudged to be of unsound mind and incapable of managing his affairs) on the issue of the sanity of the grantor at the time of the execution of the deed some twenty days previously. Referring to the record the Supreme Court of Missouri said, 139 Mo. loc. cit. 187, 40 S.W. loc. cit. 761: 'It raised no presumption as against him of Rhoades' insanity at the time of the trade, which was consummated something over 20 days before the date of the inquest. It is no uncommon occurrence for persons who have never manifested any evidences of insanity to become violently insane within a very short space of time.' In Kliewer v. Bodenheimer, 199 Okl. 107, 184 P.2d 456, loc. cit. 458, the Supreme Court of Oklahoma said: 'Plaintiff also stresses the fact that Moody was declared incompetent three months after the sale of his farm. But this does not establish his incompetency at a prior date.' In Longbotham v. Longbotham, 119 Minn. 139, 137 N.W. 387, loc. cit. 389, the Supreme Court of Minnesota said: 'The fact that the defendant had been adjudged insane and committed to the hospital for treatment does not necessarily establish that he was insane, within the rule stated, when the several acts of cruelty were committed.' See also First Christian Church in Salem v. McReynolds, supra; Schindler v. Parzoo, supra; 44 C.J.S., Insane Persons, Sec. 32(2), p. 90. In Larsson v. Cedars of Lebanon Hospital, 97 Cal.App.2d 704, 218 P.2d 604, loc. cit. 606, the California Court of Appeals said: 'The adjudication of incompetency on June 24, 1941, did not raise a presumption that plaintiff had been incompetent prior to that time.' Other cases indicating that an adjudication of insanity raises no presumption of insanity at an earlier date include Avery v. Avery, 42 Cal.App. 100, 183 P. 453; Kliewer v. Bodenheimer, supra; Andrews v. Andrews' Committee, 120 Ky. 718, 87 S.W. 1080, 90 S.W. 581; Shirley v. Taylor, 1844, 5 B.Mon. 99, 44 Ky. 99; Wathen v. Skaggs, 161 Ky. 600, 171 S.W. 193; Hentz v. Wallace's Adm'r, 153 Va. 437, 150 S.E. 389; McGregor v. Keun, 330 Ill. 106, 161 N.E. 99; Black v. Boyer, Tex.Civ.App., 21 S.W.2d 1094. Otherwise stated, 'inferences of fact and presumptions usually do not run backward.' Thus in Forbis v. Forbis, Mo.App., 274 S.W.2d 800, the Springfield Court of Appeals held that evidence that a party was of unsound mind on January 4, 1952 and was so adjudicated on July 3, 1953, standing alone, was not presumptive evidence that the same condition existed on February 12, 1951. And see Glover v. Bruce, Mo.Sup., 265 S.W.2d 346; Nash v. Normandy State Bank, Mo.Sup., 201 S.W.2d 299; Snowwhite v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., 344 Mo. 705, 127 S.W.2d 718; Conduitt v. Trenton Gas & Electric Co., 326 Mo. 133, 31 S.W.2d 21, and 31 C.J.S., Evidence, Sec. 140, p. 789, for further statement of the rule that mere

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proof of the existence of a present condition, or a condition at a given time, does not raise any presumption that the same condition existed at a prior time.

Indeed, in the instant situation, the opposite presumption obtains. Thus in Hill-Dodge Banking Co. v. Loomis, 140 Mo.App. 62, loc. cit. 70, 119 S.W. 967, loc. cit. 969, Judge Goode,...

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8 practice notes
  • Newman v. State, No. 56846
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • June 12, 1972
    ...mental incapacity which is prospective in its application from the date of the adjudication, citing Schuler v. Schuler, Mo.App., 290 S.W.2d 192; and Simmons v. United States, U.S.C.A.8th, 253 F.2d 909; Carpenter v. State, Mo.Sup., 449 S.W.2d 584; Taylor v. United States, U.S.C.A.8th, 282 F.......
  • Smith v. Smith, No. 24865
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • June 3, 1968
    ...not offset the 'legal presumption, applicable in divorce cases, (Citations), that every person is sane.' Schuler v. Schuler, Mo.App., 290 S.W.2d 192, 194. See also Willis v. Willis, Mo.App., 274 S.W.2d 621. Point (3) is ruled against the This court in Hudson v. Hudson, 176 Mo.App. 69, 162 S......
  • Hemphill by and through Burns v. Hemphill, No. 46547
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • September 8, 1958
    ...prove, as a defense in that action, that she was insane at the time the alleged indignities were committed. Schuler v. Schuler, Mo.App., 290 S.W.2d 192. As indicated, none of the allegations heretofore considered would constitute a sufficient basis for granting the relief here sought. Howev......
  • Roller v. Am. Modern Home Ins. Co., WD 77611
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • December 15, 2015
    ...of insanity, placing the burden of proof on the party asserting insanity as the basis of a claim or defense. Schuler v. Schuler, 290 S.W.2d 192, 196 (Mo.App.1956)."The criterion of insanity ... is whether the insured was so far mentally unsound that he could not exercise a rational judgment......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
8 cases
  • Newman v. State, No. 56846
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • June 12, 1972
    ...mental incapacity which is prospective in its application from the date of the adjudication, citing Schuler v. Schuler, Mo.App., 290 S.W.2d 192; and Simmons v. United States, U.S.C.A.8th, 253 F.2d 909; Carpenter v. State, Mo.Sup., 449 S.W.2d 584; Taylor v. United States, U.S.C.A.8th, 282 F.......
  • Smith v. Smith, No. 24865
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • June 3, 1968
    ...not offset the 'legal presumption, applicable in divorce cases, (Citations), that every person is sane.' Schuler v. Schuler, Mo.App., 290 S.W.2d 192, 194. See also Willis v. Willis, Mo.App., 274 S.W.2d 621. Point (3) is ruled against the This court in Hudson v. Hudson, 176 Mo.App. 69, 162 S......
  • Hemphill by and through Burns v. Hemphill, No. 46547
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • September 8, 1958
    ...prove, as a defense in that action, that she was insane at the time the alleged indignities were committed. Schuler v. Schuler, Mo.App., 290 S.W.2d 192. As indicated, none of the allegations heretofore considered would constitute a sufficient basis for granting the relief here sought. Howev......
  • Roller v. Am. Modern Home Ins. Co., WD 77611
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • December 15, 2015
    ...of insanity, placing the burden of proof on the party asserting insanity as the basis of a claim or defense. Schuler v. Schuler, 290 S.W.2d 192, 196 (Mo.App.1956)."The criterion of insanity ... is whether the insured was so far mentally unsound that he could not exercise a rational judgment......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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