State v. Thompson, 1778

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
Citation45 Wyo. 350,18 P.2d 619
Docket Number1778
Decision Date01 February 1933

APPEAL from District Court, Niobrara County; CYRUS O. BROWN, Judge.

Action by the State of Wyoming against Arthur Thompson administrator of the Estate of Thea Thompson, deceased, for recovery of claim for care of insane person. There was a judgment for plaintiff and defendant appeals.


For the defendant and appellant there was a brief by Thomas O Miller, of Lusk, Wyoming, Durham & Bacheller, of Casper Wyoming, and oral arguments by Mr. Miller and Mr. Bacheller.

The judgment is not supported by any evidence; the witness, Desmond, Assistant Secretary of Board of Charities and Reform, testified that plaintiff had no data as to the cost of maintenance of Thea Thompson during her confinement. He also testified that the figure of $ 26.29 per month was arrived at by computing the average cost of all patients in the hospital over a period of six months' time. It was stipulated that credit had been allowed by the guardian, representing items of clothing, for $ 155.81. Defendant testified that he had furnished $ 155.81 of clothing to the incompetent and it was never returned. Plaintiff seeks to maintain the action under Chap. 155, Sec. 10, Laws 1925, now Section 56-127, R. S. 1931, which repealed some former statutes. Sec. 517, W. C. S. 1920, repealed in 1929, provided the same exemptions for insane persons as are provided by law in the case of the estate of other decedents. Sec. 521, W. C. S. 1920, providing a form of commitment, with a clause as to whether the patient was committed as a State or pay patient, was repealed by the Act of 1929. Other than these two sections which have both been repealed, there existed no statutory provision regarding the payment of maintenance of insane persons at the hospital. The Act of 1931, Sec. 56-127 R. S. provides for payment from the estate of insane patients; Sec. 50-204, R. S. 1931 permits guardians in proper cases to receive credit for sums paid for the care of insane patients if allowed by the court. But the claim must be presented by the guardian and allowed. Delfelder v. Bank, 38 Wyo. 481, 269 P. 418. The guardian is not the agent of the ward. Bank v. Swanson, 291 P. 612. The claim not having been presented, the court was without jurisdiction to allow it after the ward's death. There was no competent proof as to the cost of maintenance of the patient at the hospital. Jones on Evidence, 2nd Ed., Vol. 3, p. 250; Hollingsworth v. Corbin, (Ala.) 101 So. 843; Russell v. Hayden, (Minn.) 41 N.W. 456; Sec. 56-127, R. S. 1931, is not by its terms retroactive and recovery, if any under it, can only be had after its enactment, 32 C. J. 637. County v. Hartman, (Mo.) 88 S.W. 617; County v. Cupton, (Mo.) 39 S.W. 448; State v Colligan, (Iowa) 104 N.W. 905; 25 R. C. L. 786. The act provides that it shall take effect and be enforced after June 20, 1929. It can operate perspectively only, in re Angle, (Wisc.) 198 N.W. 851. The judgment should be reversed.

For the plaintiff and respondent there was a brief by James A. Greenwood, Attorney General; Richard J. Jackson, Deputy Attorney General; George W. Ferguson, Assistant Attorney General; R. Dwight Wallace, Assistant Attorney General, all of Cheyenne, Wyoming, and oral argument by Mr. Ferguson.

The cost of everything was higher during the time deceased was confined in the Wyoming General Hospital, than at the time the rate was fixed by the Board in the present case. Competent evidence was introduced as to the cost of caring for this patient. The judgment allowed credit for the clothing sent to the deceased during her confinement in the State hospital. Sec. 56-127, R. S. 1931, by its terms and intent operated retroactively. State v. Ikey's Estate, 79 A. 850; Ann. Cas. 1913 A, 575; 25 R. C. L. 789-790; 36 Cyc. 1235-1236. The case State v. Romme, (Conn.) 107 A. 519, is squarely in point, for the reason that the Connecticut statute is the same as ours in substance. The case of Bon Homme County v. Berndt, (S. D.) 83 N.W. 333; 50 L. R. A. 351 also supports our contention, also Eversole v. Kentucky Asylum for Insane, (Ky.) 100 S.W. 300.

RINER, Justice. KIMBALL, C. J., and BLUME, J., concur.


RINER, Justice.

This case brings a judgment of the District Court of Niobrara County here for review by direct appeal. The action below was one instituted by the State of Wyoming, as plaintiff, to recover from the defendant Arthur Thompson, as administrator of the estate of Thea Thompson, deceased, an amount of money alleged to be due the plaintiff on account of the care and maintenance furnished the said Thea Thompson in the Wyoming State Hospital at Evanston in this state.

Plaintiff's petition, omitting formal parts and briefly summarized, states that Thea Thompson was, during the month of May, 1923, committed by the District Court to said Hospital as an insane person, being received in that institution as a patient on May 10, 1923; that at that time she had an estate consisting of a farm homestead and, while she was a patient in said Hospital, she inherited certain other property, all of which at the date of her death, after payment of claims and expenses of administration, was of a value not less than $ 3108.87; that she was a single person without dependents; that the reasonable and established value for her care and maintenance in said Hospital was the sum of $ 25 per month and that the total amount due therefor is $ 2108.87. Timely presentation of this claim to the defendant administrator is averred and the rejection thereof by him on May 4, 1931. Judgment was prayed in the sum last above mentioned.

Defendant's answer, while admitting the allegations of the petition relative to Thea Thompson's commitment to the state institution aforesaid and her inheritance of certain property, denied that the reasonable and established value for her care and maintenance was as charged, and denied any liability or indebtedness to plaintiff whatsoever. The answer also stated that, in the proceedings had in the District Court relative to her sanity, it was found by the jury that her estate then consisted of 320 acres of land of the value of $ 480; that defendant was at that time appointed her guardian, that he qualified and remained as such officer until his discharge by the court, July 9, 1930; that Thea Thompson was committed to the Wyoming State Hospital as a state patient and that she remained as such until her death on May 21, 1930, no sum having ever been ordered by the court to be paid out of her estate for her support. It was also alleged that no charge was ever made against her estate or any claim presented to said guardian during the ward's lifetime by the Wyoming State Board of Charities and Reform. A reply denying the allegations of the answer, other than its admissions, was filed by the plaintiff.

The case was tried to the court without a jury with the result that the plaintiff was given a judgment for $ 1955.85 including costs, subject, however, to a "statutory exemption of $ 1000, expenses of administration, attorney fees, court costs, and all preferred claims."

The first point urged in criticism of the judgment is that the petition fails to state a cause of action because it neglects to allege a presentation of the claim in suit to the guardian of Thea Thompson prior to her death and its disallowance by such officer, the claim being presented only to the defendant as administrator of her estate, and subsequent to her death. This position is taken in reliance on those provisions of Sec. 56-127, Wyo. Rev. St. 1931, reading:

"Provided, that when a person who has been supported at public expense at the state hospital is later found to have an estate in excess of the above exemptions, which is not required for the support of his dependents, the amount of the expense incurred by the state for his care and maintenance shall be charged against and collected from his estate, and shall be paid by the guardian of said estate to the state board of charities and reform."

And also those of Sec. 50-204, Wyo. Rev. St. 1931, which read:

"When a guardian has advanced, for the necessary maintenance support or education of his ward, an amount not disproportionate to the value of his estate or his condition of life, and the same is made to appear to the satisfaction of the court or judge by proper vouchers and proofs, the guardian must be allowed credit therefor in his settlements." It is also said that the case of Delfelder v. Farmers' State Bank of Riverton, 38 Wyo. 481, 269 P. 418, 270 P. 1081, is in point. We do not think so. There, it was held that the failure in a petition to allege therein a presentation of a claim to an executrix and its rejection by her was such a serious defect in a pleading seeking recovery on the claim as to permit of its being raised in this court for the first time on appeal. The statutes which made it necessary to reach such a conclusion were sections 6891, 6895, and 6897 of the Wyoming Comp. St. 1920. No provisions of this character appear in the law of this state, governing the legal relationship of guardian and ward. We are not inclined to think that because the excerpt from Sec. 56-127, supra, directs that the expense incurred by the state for the care of an insane ward shall be charged and collected from his estate and paid by the guardian thereof to the State Board of Charities and Reform, this means that, if a claim is not so disposed of, the claimant has lost it and may not present it to the administrator of the estate on the ward's death or to the ward himself in the event he is restored to sanity, and thus recover the same. Our view of this matter is not altered, either, by an examination of the provisions of Sec....

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4 cases
  • State ex rel. State Bd. of Charities and Reform v. Bower
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • 13 Junio 1961
    ...sufficient presentment for payment of the claim was given. Appellant seems to feel there is authority for its position in State v. Thompson, 45 Wyo. 350, 18 P.2d 619. But that case merely held that under the provisions of what is now § 25-14, W.S.1957, amounts due the State for the care and......
  • Hyden v. Wilkinson
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oklahoma
    • 7 Mayo 1940
    ...... deceased ward. See Matthews v. Mires, 135 Minn. 94,. 160 N.W. 187, L.R.A.1917B, 676; State v. Thompson,. 45 Wyo. 350, 18 P.2d 619; Eisenhower v. Vaughn, 95. Wash. 256, 163 P. 758; Masters v. Jones, 158 Ind. 647, 64 N.E. 213. . . ......
  • Hyden v. Wilkinson
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oklahoma
    • 7 Mayo 1940 the administrator or executor of the deceased ward. See Matthews v. Mires, 135 Minn. 94, 160 N. W. 187, L.R.A. 1917B, 676; State v. Thompson (Wyo.) 18 P.2d 619; Eisenhower v. Vaughn, 95 Wash. 256, 163 P. 758; Masters v. Jones, 158 Ind. 647, 64 N. E. 213. ¶5 It is uncontroverted that the ......
  • Guardianship of Phipps
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • 18 Agosto 1952
    ...section the estate of the incompetent was liable for his care rendered prior to his inheritance from his mother's estate. State v. Thompson, 45 Wyo. 350, 18 P.2d 619, held that under a Wyoming statute providing generally that the care of an incompetent shall be a charge against his estate, ......

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