STACY V. THRASHER, 47 U. S. 44 (1848)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Stacy v. Thrasher, 47 U.S. 6 How. 44 44 (1848)

Stacy v. Thrasher

47 U.S. (6 How.) 44


An action of debt will not lie against an administrator in one of these United States on a judgment obtained against a different administrator of the same intestate, appointed under the authority of another state.

The doctrine of privity examined.

The history of the case is this.

In April, 1836, Charles S. Lee, a resident of the County of Claiborne and State of Mississippi, was sued in the County Court of Claiborne, by Christopher Dart and William Gardner, who called themselves late merchants and co-partners trading under the style and firm of Dart & Co., and stated the suit to be for the use of Christopher Dart.

It is not necessary to state the cause of action, or trace the progress of the suit minutely.

Lee appeared to the suit.

In December, 1836, his death was suggested.

In July, 1837, Ann Lee took out letters of administration upon the estate of Charles S. Lee, under the authority of the Probate Court of Claiborne County.

In September, 1837, the suit was revived against the administratrix by a scire facias.

Page 47 U. S. 45

In November, 1837, she appeared to the suit and pleaded the general issue.

On 1 December, 1838, the cause came on for trial, when the plaintiffs obtained a judgment for $6,080.99.

On the same day, viz., 1 December, 1838, Christopher Dart, for whose use the judgment was entered, made an assignment of it to John B. Thrasher, of Port Gibson, the nominal defendant in error in the present case.

After this, however, a new trial was granted by the Court of Claiborne County in the suit against Ann Lee, administratrix, which resulted in another judgment, for a different sum of money, in June, 1840.

Another new trial was granted, and in December, 1840, another judgment was rendered against the administratrix for $6,988.05.

Nothing further appears to have been done for some time. The next fact in the history of the case is that David S. Stacy, the plaintiff in error in the present case and a citizen of Louisiana, took out letters of administration upon the estate of Charles S. Lee, in the State of Louisiana. At what particular time these letters were taken out the record does not show.

In January, 1844, John B. Thrasher, to whom the judgment in Mississippi had been assigned by Christopher Dart, as above stated, filed a petition in the Circuit Court of the United States for the Eastern District of Louisiana, against Stacy, the administrator of Charles S. Lee. Thrasher now stated himself to be suing for the use of William Sellers, and averred that Sellers and himself were both citizens of the State of Mississippi. The petitioner stated himself to be the legal owner, by transfer and assignment, of a judgment for $6,988.05, which judgment was final and definitive.

In February, 1844, Stacy appeared to the suit and filed the following exceptions and answer, which are according to the practice in Louisiana, and equivalent to a demurrer.

"David S. Stacy, a citizen of the State of Louisiana, residing in the Parish of Concordia, administrator of the succession of Charles S. Lee, in the State of Louisiana, under the appointment and authority of the Court of Probates of the Parish of Concordia aforesaid, being made defendant in the above-entitled suit, appears and pleads as follows, by way of exception:"

"1. That plaintiff in his petition does not allege or show that this Honorable Court has jurisdiction of this suit, as it is not therein alleged that Christopher Dart, who is declared to be the assignor of the judgment upon which this suit is brought, was either an alien or a citizen of another state than Louisiana, or

Page 47 U. S. 46

could have maintained this suit in this Honorable Court either against the appearer or the said Charles S. Lee."

"2. Appearer alleges that Christopher Dart and William Gardner, the alleged owners of the claim upon which the judgment was obtained in Mississippi, were citizens of Louisiana, and members of a commercial firm located in New Orleans, and could not have maintained this suit in this Honorable Court either against the said Lee or against this appearer, and that this Court has no jurisdiction of this suit."

"3. That the said William Gardner, one of the joint owners of said claim, was a citizen of Louisiana, and that the said Dart & Gardner could not have maintained a suit upon said claim in this Honorable Court either against the said C. S. Lee or against this appearer."

"4. That the said C. Dart, under an assignment and transfer of said claim from the said Gardner, could not have maintained a suit thereon in this Honorable Court."

"5. Appearer further excepts and says, that this Honorable Court has no jurisdiction over successions in the State of Louisiana, nor over the settlement of said successions and the distributions of the proceeds among the creditors, nor over administrators and others appointed to administer them, nor of the establishment of claims for money against such successions; that the court of probate of this state have the sole and exclusive jurisdiction of all these matters; that no property belonging to a succession in the course of administration in the probate court, whose jurisdiction has attached over the subject matter, can be taken, levied upon, or sold by process from the courts of the United States; nor can said probate courts be ousted or disseized of their said exclusive jurisdiction once obtained, nor the property withdrawn from their control by any other tribunal. That this has been the well known and settled law of the state for the last twenty years, and that the said Dart & Gardner contracted in New Orleans, in Louisiana, under and in reference to this law, and are bound by it; appearer alleges that this Honorable Court, for the above reasons, has no jurisdiction in this suit, ratione personae nor ratione materiae, but avers that the Court of Probates of the parish of Concordia has sole and exclusive jurisdiction thereof. Wherefore appearer prays that this suit may be dismissed at plaintiff's costs &c."

"If all the above exceptions should be overruled, then appearer pleads that the plaintiff has neither alleged nor shown any cause of action against him whatever, nor any indebtedness to the plaintiff by the succession of C. S. Lee in the State of Louisiana. "

Page 47 U. S. 47

"If the above exception should be also overruled, then defendant denies generally and specially each and every allegation in plaintiff's petition contained. Wherefore he prays that plaintiff's demand may be rejected with costs, and for general relief in the premises &c."

"[Signed] D. S. STACY, Adm'r Estate C. S. Lee"

On 26 February, 1844, Thrasher filed an amended petition averring that Christopher Dart, the assignor of the judgment, was, at the time of the assignment, an alien, being a citizen of the Republic of Texas, and resident therein, and that Charles S. Lee, at the time of said assignment and of his death, was a citizen of Louisiana.

On 13 March, 1844, the court overruled the exceptions, and on 11 April following gave the following final judgment.

"This cause came on for trial, and the law and the evidence being in favor of the plaintiff, it is ordered, adjudged, and decreed, that the defendant, David S. Stacy, as administrator of the estate of Charles S. Lee, be condemned to pay to the plaintiff, for the use of William Sellers, the sum of six thousand nine hundred and eighty-eight dollars and five cents, with eight percent interest thereon per annum from the first day of December, eighteen hundred and forty, until paid, and costs of suit. Judgment rendered April 11, 1844. Judgment signed April 18, 1844."

"[Signed] J. McKINLEY"

From this decree, a writ of error brought the case up to this Court.

Page 47 U. S. 57

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