Storrs v. Storrs

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Florida
Citation23 Fla. 274,2 So. 368
PartiesSTORRS and others v. STORRS and others.
Decision Date18 April 1887

Appeal from Franklin county, Second judicial circuit.

Syllabus by the Court


Where a married woman, by her next friend, files a bill against her husband, S., and against Springer, a judgment creditor of her husband, seeking to enjoin and restrain the creditor of the husband from selling certain property levied upon by the creditor to enforce his judgment, and that is claimed by her to be her separate property, her husband, S., is not a competent witness for the wife to prove the property so levied on by the creditor to be his wife's separate property.

Where the wife seeks by bill to enjoin a creditor of her husband from selling property by virtue of a judgment and execution against her husband, upon the ground that it is her separate property, she must allege in her bill whether it is her equitable separate estate or her legal separate estate; and if claimed by purchase, she is held to full and strict proof that it was paid for with her money, and, in the absence of this proof, the property is presumed to be the property of the husband.

COUNSEL John W. Malone, for appellants.

No counsel appearing for appellees.



C. L and Ellen F. Storrs are husband and wife. In May or June 1881 C. L. Storrs went to Chicago, Illinois, and represented to Warren Springer that he was building in Florida a tug-boat, to be called the Benjamin L. Curtis, and purchased from said Springer the machinery for said tug-boat at an agreed price of about $1,700, and drew four drafts in favor of said Springer on E. Emlin & Sons, upon which said Springer negotiated and realized about the sum of $2,200; that the money realized from said drafts was paid over to said C. L. Storrs, except about $1,400, that was applied to the payment of said machinery, leaving said Storrs indebted to said Springer about $300, for which said Storrs gave his individual note; that said machinery was purchased from said Springer on the credit of C. L. Storrs alone,--Ellen F. Storrs, his wife, not being known in the transaction. When C. L. Storrs' note to Warren Springer fell due, Warren Springer brought suit on it in the circuit court of Franklin county, Florida, and obtained judgment thereon, upon which an execution issued and was levied upon the tug-boat Benj. L. Curtis as the property of C. L. Storrs, and being the boat for which said Storrs purchased the machinery. Upon the levy being made, Ellen F. Storrs, wife of C. L. Storrs, by her next friend, Charles Reynolds, on the fifth day of January, 1884, filed her bill in the circuit court of Franklin county against her husband, C. L. Storrs, and Warren Springer, alleging the obtaining of the judgment by Warren Springer against C. L. Storrs, the issuing and levying of said execution by the sheriff of Franklin county on the steam-tug B. L. Curtis as the property of C. L. Storrs, and that the same was advertised and about to be sold to satisfy the execution and judgment of Warren Springer against C. L. Storrs; and alleging further, that said steam-tug was her separate property; and prayed that it be released from said levy, and decreed to be her own separate property, and not subject to sale under said execution; that appellants be enjoined and restrained from proceeding further to sell said tugboat under said execution. The judge granted an injunction, and restrained the sale of said tug-boat. Afterwards said Warren Springer filed his answer to said bill. Warren Springer answered that C. L. Storrs had said tug-boat constructed and equipped under contract with him, and paid for its construction and equipment partly with his own money, and partly with money which he raised on his credit; that said Storrs purchased of him (Springer) the machinery of said boat, and gave his note for a balance therefor, which was merged in the judgment upon which the execution was issued and so levied. He denied that Ellen F. Storrs had any separate property in said boat, but that the same was the property of C. L. Storrs, and charged that the said C. L. Storrs and Ellen F. Storrs had combined and colluded together to delay and hinder the said Warren Springer in the collection of his said execution debt by falsely and fraudulently claiming the said tug-boat to be the separate property of Ellen F. Storrs. C. L. Storrs filed no answer to said bill, and a decree pro confesso was taken against him. The complainant afterwards filed a replication to said Springer's answer, and testimony was taken touching the issues joined. Among other witnesses who were examined by complainant was her husband, C. L. Storrs. Before said cause was heard, Warren Springer moved to suppress the testimony of C. L. Storrs. The court denied the motion, and afterwards, on the ninth day of June, A. D. 1885, made a final decree in the cause making the injunction theretofore granted perpetual, and taxing Warren Springer with the costs of the suit. From that decree the cause was brought to this court by appeal.

The appellants assigned the following errors in the proceedings of the cause, upon which they ask a reversal of the rulings of the court below: '(1) Because the bill does not contain facts sufficient to entitle the plaintiff to the relief prayed for therein; (2) because the judge refused to suppress the testimony of C. L. Storrs, and overruled the motion therefor; (3) because the testimony does not sustain the allegations in the bill, and establish the plaintiff's claim to the property in controversy.'

In considering the errors assigned in this case, we will first consider the second error assigned, the refusal of the court below to suppress the testimony of C. L. Storrs, who is the husband of the complainant Ellen F. Storrs. C. L. Storrs, who was a defendant in this cause, gave evidence in this cause by deposition, called as a witness by his wife. The defendant Warren Springer moved the court to suppress this deposition which was refused by the court. Was this error? The general rule clearly is that the husband and wife cannot be witnesses for or against each other. 1 Greenl. Ev. §§ 334-341. This is the rule both in England and the United States, except when altered by statute. The reason of the rule is based, not only upon interest, but upon the nature of the marital relation, and on principles of public policy. Co. Lit. 6b; Tiley v. Cowling, 1 Ld. Raym. 744. This whole question is very fully discussed, and the English and American authorities reviewed, in a New York case, (Hasbrouck v. Vandervoort, 9 N. Y. 153;) and it was there held that 'a husband is not a competent witness for or against the trustee of his wife's...

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8 cases
  • Ex Parte Beville
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • November 23, 1909
    ...such a case, at common law, the wife could not be a witness for or against her husband. McGill v. McGill, 19 Fla. 341; Storrs v. Storrs, 23 Fla. 274, 2 So. 368; Schnabel v. Betts, 23 Fla. 178, 1 So. 692; Moore v. State, 45 Tex. Cr. R. 234, 75 S.W. 497, 67 L. R. A. 499, 108 Am. St. Rep. 952,......
  • American Freehold Land & Mortgage Co. v. Maxwell
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • July 30, 1897
    ...and that in the absence of such proof the property is presumed to be her husband's (Fairchild v. Knight, 18 Fla. 772; Storrs v. Storrs, 23 Fla. 274, 2 So. 368), or the conveyance will be considered a voluntary one (Alston v. Rowles, 13 Fla. 117; Claflin v. Ambrose, 37 Fla. 78, 19 So. 628). ......
  • Baker & Holmes Co. v. Gibson
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • August 10, 1931
    ...of record of the property conveyed, the conveyance will be invalid as against such creditors.' See, also, Storrs v. Storrs, 22 Fla. 274, 2 So. 368; Claflin v. Ambrose, 37 Fla. 78, 19 So. 628; McKeown v. Allen et al., 37 Fla. 490, 20 So. 556; Hummell v. Harrington, 92 Fla. 87, 109 So. 320; B......
  • Thomas v. Burke
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • January 31, 1941
    ...was made with her separate funds, otherwise the presumption is that it was through means furnished by her husband. Storrs v. Storrs, 23 Fla. 274, 2 So. 368; Price v. Sanchez, 8 Fla. 136; Fairchild v. Knight, 18 Fla. 770. In Seitz v. Mitchell, 94 U.S. 580 [24 L.Ed. 179], it was held that pur......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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