« ZurückWeiter »
Shakeley v. Taylor.
current of decisions is against the validity of purchases by any one holding a fiduciary relation to the property sold, without any inquiry as to the circumstances of the sale, or the motive of the trustee in becoming a purchaser. The courts hold, with great propriety and force of reasoning, that sound policy requires that persons in a fiduciary character should have no temptation to use trust property for their own benefit and to the injury of the cestui que trust. . And if the present case falls within this principle, the relief sought for by these complainants must be awarded, unless denied to them on other grounds.
But the court do not perceive the applicability of the rule referred to, to the case stated in this bill. Barr, the purchaser of the property in question, was one of three administrators of an insolvent estate. Upon a proper showing to the Probate Court, by the administrators, that it was necessary to sell the real estate of the decedent to pay debts, an order for that purpose was made, under which Still became the purchaser of the property. The administrators made return of the sale, and the usual order for its confirmation was made, and also an order that the administrators should convey the “premises to the purchaser.” A deed was accordingly executed, which vested the legal title to the property in the purchaser, Still. From that time, the administrators were separated from all connection with it as fiduciaries. It appears that subsequently, in default of the payment of the notes given by the purchaser for the real estate sold, it became necessary to bring suit on one or more of these notes, in which suit the names of the three administrators were used as plaintiffs. A judgment was obtained by the administrators; and upon an execution against the defendant, the property purchased by him at the sale by the administrators, as also the undivided half which he had acquired by purchase from Enness, was levied upon. Having been duly appraised and advertised, as required by law, it was offered at public sale by the sheriff of Hamilton county, and Barr, being the highest bidder, was the pur
Shakeley v. Taylor.
chaser. The sale thus made was confirmed by the proper court, and in pursuance of the order of the court, the sheriff conveyed the property to Barr. It
тау be remarked here, that there is no allegation in the bill, nor any ground presented for an inference, that these proceedings were not conducted in the most perfect good faith.
The sum bid for the property by Barr being two-thirds its appraised value, after applying one-third to the satisfaction of the widow's claim of dower, was paid to the administrators, and by them distributed to the creditors of the estate. Neither is there any averment in the bill that Barr made any profit for himself by the purchase.
The main ground on which courts have rested their condemnation of fiduciary purchases is, that the trustee has control of the sale of the property, and thus is exposed to the temptation of resorting to fraudulent management in the sale, thereby to subserve his own interests, at the sacrifice of the interests of those for whom he is the trustee. Hence, at a sale by administrators or executors of property belonging to their decedent, they are not allowed to become purchasers, for the reason that they appoint the time and place, and have the entire management of the sale. But this has no application to the sale at which Barr was the purchaser. The property sold to him was not trust property, the title, legal and equitable, having vested in Still, the defendant in the execution. It was levied on and sold to satisfy the execution against him. The sale, and all the proceedings connected with it, were conducted by the sheriff, the officer who by law was authorized to perform this duty, without any interference or attempted control on the part of Barr or his co-administrators.
It would seem to be a clear proposition that a sale thus made is not liable to the objections which usually invalidate a fiduciary sale. It is clearly not within the principle on which such sales are held to be void, for the reason that the purchaser, though his name as an administrator was neces
Sbakeley v. Taylor.
sarily used in the suit against Still, had no control over the sale. It was impossible, therefore, that, by any agency on his part, he could prevent the fullest competition at the sale, or by any device or management effect a purchase at an unfair price.
Two cases have been referred to by counsel, one from the Vermont and one from the Georgia Reports, in which it is said the court ignored the distinction between a purchase by an administrator or executor of property held as the representative of a decedent, and property levied on to satisfy a judgment in which an administrator or executor is a party plaintiff. I have not had an opportunity of referring to these cases, and do not, therefore, know the precise grounds on which the decisions were placed. But, considering the distinction intimated as obvious, and as entitled to a controlling influence in the consideration of the question, I am not prepared to sanction the doctrine which the cases cited are supposed to sustain. It is not within the reason of the rule of law condemning fiduciary purchases, and there is certainly nothing in the facts presented in the bill requiring so stringent an application of the doctrine. As before intimated, there does not appear to have been any unfairness, much less fraud, in the purchase of the property in question. It was sold at its fair value, and its proceeds applied to the payment of the debts owing by the estate.
But, if the facts presented warranted the implication that Barr, the purchaser of the property, can be viewed as having acquired merely a trust estate, the inquiry may properly be made, to whose benefit did the trust inure? The estate of the decedent Bailey was insolvent, and paid only fifty cents on the dollar of the debts owing. It would seem, therefore, that his heirs could have no possible interest in the sale and disposition of his estate, as there is no pretense that in any event there would have been any surplus for distribution after the payment of the debts. If, therefore, there is any ground of complaint against the
Shakeley v. Taylor.
administrators, it should be urged by the creditors, and not by the heirs of Bailey. But the creditors are not parties to this bill and ask nothing at the hands of this court. And this is a full answer to the prayer of the bill, so far as the equities of the heirs are concerned.
The case of Chronister v. Bushey, 7 Watts & Serg. 152, is cited as sustaining the doctrine that it is the right of the heirs to impeach a sale by an administrator or executor, even where the estate is insolvent. In that case, however, the property purchased belonged to the estate of which the administrator was the representative. It was, in fact, a sale by the administrator, and of which he had the entire control, and there were facts in the case justifying the inference of fraud on the part of the administrator. It was possible, that if the sale had been fairly made and the property sold at its full value, there might have been a residuum for the heirs. The court held, therefore, that as the heirs had a remote or contingent interest in the sale, it was competent for them to impeach it without the interposition of the creditors of the estate. It is not necessary to inquire into the correctness of the decision in the case referred to. The facts in that case have no analogy to those in the case before the court, and the law as sanctioned by the Pennsylvania court has no application to
Regarding the reasons stated as conclusive against the right of the complainants to the relief sought for, the demurrer is sustained and the bill dismissed. It is not therefore necessary to inquire or decide whether the complainants are barred by the statute of limitations or the lapse of time,
United States v. Corwin.
THE UNITED STATES V. R. C. CORWIN ET AL.
Treasury transcripts, showing the state of accounts as between the govern
ment and a disbursing officer of the United States, are prima facie evidence, and admissible as such in a suit against the officer or his
sureties on an official bond. The act of Congress provides that in a suit on such bond no item of credit
shall be allowed, unless it bas previously been submitted to and dis
allowed by the proper accounting officers. But it is competent for the officer or his sureties to prove that a disputed
item of credit claimed had been thus presented and disallowed, although
the treasury transcript does not show such presentation and rejection. Where the evidence proves, to the satisfaction of a jury, in a suit on the
bond of a disbursing officer, that money, reasonable in amount, was paid by such officer, and services were rendered by him in good faith, in the proper discharge of his official duties, such payment and service, if not prohibited by law, may be allowed as credits.
Stanley Matthews, District Attorney, for United States.
Corwin & Warden, for defendants.
CHARGE OF THE COURT :
This is a suit against the defendants, as sureties in the official bond of Henry Harvey, a sub-Indian agent of the United States for the Osage Indians. The condition of the bond is, in substance, that Harvey shall faithfully perform all bis duties as such sub-Indian agent, and faithfully account for all moneys received by him, and all property which shall come officially into his possession.
Transcripts from the books of the treasury department have been offered in evidence, purporting to show the moneys advanced by the United States to the subagent, and showing a nominal balance against him of $13,553. Although, by act of Congress, these treasury transcripts are made legal evidence for the government, they are not