Wunschel v. McKinney, 49926

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Citation103 N.W.2d 81,251 Iowa 881
Docket NumberNo. 49926,49926
PartiesRussell S. WUNSCHEL, Guardian of the Property of Robert D. Handy, Appellant, v. Richard McKINNEY, Appellee.
Decision Date03 May 1960

Edward S. White, and Ronald H. Schechtman, Carroll, for appellant.

Russel S. Wunschel, Carroll, pro se.

Taylor & Taylor, Guthrie Center, for appellee.

PETERSON, Justice.

This is an action for alleged unpaid balance on promissory note of $1,250. The note was executed by defendant to Robert D. Handy on July 1, 1951. It was payable on January 1, 1953. In September 1956 Mr. Handy was declared of unsound mind and committed to the State Hospital at Clarinda. Russell S. Wunschel was duly appointed guardian, and in such capacity is the plaintiff.

There is no dispute about the payment by check of three fifth dollar payments on July 16, 1953, June 30, 1954 and May 18, 1955.

The only question in controversy is that defendant alleges he sold 800 bu. of corn to Mr. Handy on or about July 16, 1953, at $1.50 per bu. to be applied on the note. Plaintiff contends there was no evidence by competent witnesses as to the sale of the corn. Defendant contends such evidence is present in the record. Jury was waived, and the case was tried to the court. The trial court decided in favor of defendant. Plaintiff has appealed.

The errors relied upon by appellant are: 1. A notation on a check does not constitute a receipt. 2. The testimony of a party as to transactions with a person since declared incompetent is inadmissible and the Trial Court erred in overruling certain objections. 3. The evidence was insufficient to show payment.

Detailed consideration of the errors is not necessary. The errors alleged will all be included in consideration of the findings of fact of the trial court. The question is whether or not there was substantial evidence by competent witnesses to sustain such findings. If so, they are binding upon this court, to the same extent as the verdict of a jury. This is provided in No. 334, Rules of Civil Procedure, 58 I.C.A. It is axiomatic, as declared in numerous decisions. We will cite only a few.

No. 334, R.C.P., provides: 'Review in equity cases shall be de novo. In all other cases the supreme court shall constitute a court for correction of errors at law; and findings of fact in jury-waived cases shall have the effect of a special verdict.'

Wolever v. Gollobit, 231 Iowa 1074, 3 N.W.2d 191; In re Mathews' Estate, 234 Iowa 188, 12 N.W.2d 162; Roth v. Headlee, 238 Iowa 1340, 29 N.W.2d 923; Beardsley v. Hobbs, 239 Iowa 1332, 34 N.W.2d 916; Miller v. Woolsey, 240 Iowa 450, 35 N.W.2d 584; Miller v. King, 240 Iowa 1336, 39 N.W.2d 307.

In Wolever v. Gollobit, supra, this court said: 'Since the jury was waived the judgment of the district court has the effect of a verdict if there is substantial competent evidence to support it.' [231 Iowa 1074, 3 N.W.2d 192.]

In Roth v. Headlee, supra, we said: 'The action was tried at law without a jury. It is not reviewable here de novo, but only upon the errors assigned * * * the decision below on the facts has the force and effect of a jury verdict.' [238 Iowa 1340, 29 N.W.2d 924.]

Both parties were somewhat restricted as to introduction of evidence, because of competency of their witnesses under the provisions of Section 622.4, 1958 Iowa Code, I.C.A. The trial court was careful in sustaining or overruling objections raised under said section. The statute is equally effective in case of insanity of one of the parties.

The following notation appears on Exhibit, 1, which is a check for $50 to Robert Handy, signed by defendant and dated July 16, 1953: '800 bu corn at $1.50 bu on $1250. note & int.'

Sufficient uncontradicted evidence was admitted, either without objection or with objection properly overruled, to establish substantial support for the trial court's findings of fact.

Defendant testified:

'Q. I hand you what the court reporter has marked Defendant's Exhibit 1 and will have you identify that if you will please. (No objection) A. This is a check I gave Robert Handy.

'Q. Do you know the signature of Robert Handy? (No objection) A. Yes.

'Q. I call your attention to the endorsement on the reverse side of that check and ask if that is his signature? (Objection; witness incompetent) Court: He may answer. A. Yes.

'Q. I notice other writing on the face of this check. (This was the writing about 800 bu of corn, above quoted.) Does this check now bear the same writing that it bore when you delivered it to Robert Handy? (No objection) A. Yes.'

Mr. Taylor: 'In connection with the direct examination of the defendant Richard McKinney, the defendant offers into evidence exhibit 1. (Objection on bais of irrelevant, incompetent and immaterial, and no proper foundation laid, showing that it was given in consideration of the note involved.) The Court: * * * It will be received.'

The trial court properly expressed the distinction between competency and incompetency of a witness under Section 622.4.

'The Court: Under the Dead Man Statute he can testify to a physical fact unrelated to a personal transaction. He can identify written instruments that are within his personal knowledge. He can testify as to their...

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5 cases
  • Stacy v. Burke, 55
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • October 22, 1970
    ...controvert or frustrate the policy of the statute. See Kerwin v. Bank of Douglas, 93 Ariz. 269, 379 P.2d 978 (1963); Wunschel v. McKinney, 251 Iowa 881, 103 N.W.2d 81 (1960); Stephenson v. Stephenson, 351 Md. 8, 171 S.W.2d 565 (1943), cases from States which have statutes with provisions es......
  • Farm Service Co. v. Tobin, 50875
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • April 9, 1963
    ...of Gollobit, 231 Iowa 1074, 1075, 3 N.W.2d 191, 192; Roth v. Headlee, 238 Iowa 1340, 1342, 29 N.W.2d 923, 924; Wunschel v. McKinney, 251 Iowa 881, 103 N.W.2d In In re Estate of Gollobit, supra, this court said: 'Since the jury was waived the judgment of the district court has the effect of ......
  • Jones v. O'Bryon, 50661
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • July 24, 1962
    ...of a jury verdict. We review it only upon assigned errors of law. Rule 334, Rules of Civil Procedure, 58 I.C.A.; Wunschel v. McKinney, 251 Iowa 881, 103 N.W.2d 81; Roth v. Headlee, supra; In re Estate of Gollobit, 231 Iowa 1074, 3 N.W.2d This case involves the law of bailments. The rule is ......
  • McCune v. Muenich, 50868
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • October 15, 1963
    ...v. Fazel Bros. Co., 247 Iowa 644, 648, 75 N.W.2d 253, 255; Morf v. Washburn, 250 Iowa 759, 762, 94 N.W.2d 756, 758; Wunschel v. McKinney, 251 Iowa 881, 882, 103 N.W.2d 81, 82. See also rule 344(f)1. Further, the evidence will be construed in the light most favorable to the trial court's jud......
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