Stagg v. Stagg

Decision Date16 June 1931
Docket NumberNo. 6782.,6782.
PartiesSTAGG v. STAGG.
CourtMontana Supreme Court

90 Mont. 180


No. 6782.

Supreme Court of Montana.

June 16, 1931.

Appeal from District Court, Deer Lodge County; George B. Winston, Judge.

Action by John A. Stagg, as administrator of the estate of Mary Elizabeth Stagg, deceased, against Barbara Elizabeth Stagg. Judgment for defendant, and plaintiff appeals.


S. P. Wilson, of Deer Lodge, for appellant.

Joseph J. McCaffery, of Butte, for respondent.


Plaintiff, as administrator of the estate of Mary Elizabeth Stagg, deceased, expressly waiving the tort, brought this action upon an implied contract to recover the value of certain described articles of jewelry alleged to have been owned by the deceased during her lifetime, and which were converted by the defendant. At the close of plaintiff's evidence, the court sustained the motion of defendant for a nonsuit, and judgment for costs was entered in favor of defendant. Plaintiff's motion for a new trial was overruled, and he has appealed from the judgment.

The complaint is in the usual form, and its sufficiency is not challenged. It shows that Mary Elizabeth Stagg died on January 19, 1919, and that John A. Stagg was appointed administrator of her estate on November 19, 1929; that in her lifetime Mary Elizabeth Stagg owned the jewelry described which has an actual value of $15,000; that prior to the commencement of the action defendant wrongfully took the articles of jewelry into her possession with the intent to convert them to her own use; and that plaintiff has demanded that defendant pay him the value thereof, which demand has been refused.

The answer denies that the articles of jewelry were owned by the deceased in her lifetime, puts in issue the value of the jewelry, and, by way of affirmative defenses, alleges, in substance, that James P. Stagg is the father of John A. Stagg, and was the husband of Mary Elizabeth Stagg until her death; that on July 24, 1922, defendant was united in marriage with James P. Stagg; that the articles of jewelry in question were given to defendant by James P. Stagg, the then owner, on May 30, 1922, for and on account of their engagement; that since May 30, 1922, defendant has been in the exclusive possession of the jewelry, claiming the same adversely to all persons more than seven and one–half years before the commencement of the action, and that between the 30th day of May, 1922, and the 16th day of June, 1927, she wore and displayed the articles of jewelry at entertainments where plaintiff was one of the guests present; that this action, which was commenced on December 21, 1929, is barred by statutes of limitations, several of which are specifically pleaded, and that plaintiff is guilty of laches in bringing the action at this time after the death of James P. Stagg, the principal witness for defendant. The reply admits the relationship of the parties, and puts in issue the material affirmative allegations of the answer.

The evidence shows that plaintiff, John A. Stagg, and Ira Stagg are the sons of Mary Elizabeth Stagg and James P. Stagg; that, after the death of Mary Elizabeth Stagg, James P. Stagg and defendant were intermarried; that James P. Stagg died June 16, 1927. James P. Stagg lived in Anaconda. In 1919 John A. and Ira Stagg were attending the University at Los Angeles, Cal. John A. was then married to Willim Stagg. While attending the University, both John and Ira contracted the “flu,” and Mary Elizabeth went to Los Angeles to attend them; while there she became seriously ill, requiring a surgical operation, from which she died. She had the articles of jewelry on her person while in Los Angeles, and exhibited them to plaintiff's wife and others. When warned of the serious character of her illness and the necessity for an operation, she called Willim Stagg to her bedside and handed the jewelry to her, saying, “Give these to ‘Dad’ Stagg, and he is to keep it for the boys until they are old enough to appreciate it.” Willim Stagg, in compliance with this request, delivered the jewelry to James P. Stagg after the death of Mary Elizabeth Stagg, and communicated to him the directions given to her by Mary Elizabeth Stagg, and she testified that James P. Stagg “accepted the jewelry on those conditions.” James P. Stagg kept the jewelry in his vault at the store operated by him in Anaconda. At different times he permitted Willim Stagg and the defendant to wear some of the jewelry.

John Stagg testified that “the reason I did not take any action to get possession of these diamonds while my father was living, is because they were given to my father to be given to us when, in his discretion, we were old enough to appreciate them, and I would not sue my father when I had no right to obtain them. I knew my father would do the right thing. He generally did do the right thing, and I believe it was my father's wishes that these jewels be turned over to us.”

In 1927 plaintiff saw the jewelry in the vault in his father's store. He said he knew that defendant wore the...

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26 cases
  • State ex rel. Ins. Com'R v. Bcbs, 32979.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • October 5, 2006
    ...In re Estates of Gates, 876 So.2d 1059, 1063 (Miss.Ct. App.2004); Penney v. White, 594 S.W.2d 632, 641 (Mo.Ct.App.1980); Stagg v. Stagg, 90 Mont. 180, 300 P. 539, 543 (1931); Simon v. Simon, 141 Neb. 839, 5 N.W.2d 140, 142 (1942); Barrett v. Cady, 78 N.H. 60, 96 A. 325, 329 (1915); Livingst......
  • Common School District No. 18 v. Twin Falls Bank and Trust Co., 5860
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • June 24, 1932
    ...supra.) MINNESOTA: Burke v. Maryland, 149 Minn. 481, 184 N.W. 32; Finch v. Bursheim, 122 Minn. 152, 142 N.W. 143. MONTANA: Stagg v. Stagg, 90 Mont. 180, 300 P. 539. MICHIGAN: Christy v. Farlin, 49 Mich. 319, 13 N.W. 607. NEW YORK: Williams v. Flagg Storage Warehouse Co., 128 Misc. 566, 220 ......
  • Conley v. Johnson, 7451.
    • United States
    • Montana United States State Supreme Court of Montana
    • February 1, 1936
    ...whenever there is a vacancy, and the declaration of trust does not provide a practicable method of appointment. See, also, Stagg v. Stagg, 90 Mont. 180, 300 P. 539. The failure of the bank did not terminate the trust, but did actually create a vacancy in the trusteeship. The finding of the ......
  • In re Raymond W. George Trust, 98-304.
    • United States
    • Montana United States State Supreme Court of Montana
    • September 23, 1999
    ...of these cases. ¶ 28 Sievers also cites Town of Cascade v. Cascade County (1926), 75 Mont. 304, 243 P. 806; Stagg v. Stagg (1931), 90 Mont. 180, 300 P. 539; and Hames v. City of Polson (1950), 123 Mont. 469, 215 P.2d 950, and, while acknowledging that these cases do not specifically address......
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