MAGNIAC V. THOMSON, 56 U. S. 281 (1853)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Magniac v. Thomson, 56 U.S. 15 How. 281 281 (1853)

Magniac v. Thomson

56 U.S. (15 How.) 281


A plaintiff in a judgment having the defendant in execution under a ca. sa., entered into an agreement with him that the plaintiff should, without prejudice to his rights and remedies against the defendant, permit him to be forthwith discharged from custody under the process and that the defendant should go to the next session of the circuit court of the United States and on the law side of that court make up an issue with the plaintiff to try the question whether the defendant was possessed of the means, in or out of a certain marriage settlement, of satisfying the judgment against him.

The debtor was released; the issue made up, the cause tried in the circuit court, brought to this Court, and reported in 32 U. S. 7 Pet. 348.

By suing out the ca. sa., taking the defendant into custody, entering into the arrangement above mentioned, and discharging the defendant from custody, the plaintiff, in all legal intendment, admitted satisfaction of his demand, released the defendant from all liability therefor, and destroyed every effect of his judgment as the foundation of legal rights.

In such a state of things, a court of equity will not interfere at the instance of the plaintiff.

The allegation of fraud in the marriage contract is not sustained by the evidence; nor was the refusal of the defendant to apply the property which accrued to him upon the death of his wife to the discharge of the debt a violation of the agreement under which he was released.

The averment in the bill that the rights of the plaintiff under the judgment remained unimpaired is incompatible with a right to resort to a court of equity.

Magniac & Company, being English subjects, had two judgments against Thomson, one in the Circuit Court of the United States for Pennsylvania in 1827, and the other in the Circuit Court for New Jersey in 1829.

Page 56 U. S. 282

On the 1st April, 1829, the appellants sued out a writ of capias ad satisfaciendum on the judgment in the Circuit Court of the United States for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to April session, 1829, to which the marshal, on the 8th April, 1830, returned non est inventus, and on the same day an alias capias ad satisfaciendum was sued out to April session, 1830, Number 9, to which on the 12th April, 1830, the marshal made return of "C.C. and enlarged by agreement of plaintiff's attorney."

The appellee was discharged out of custody by the consent of the plaintiffs in the judgment under the following agreement, viz.:

"Magniac v. Thomson. No. 18, Circuit Court of the United States,"

"Pennsylvania District, October, 1826"

"Defendant having been taken by ca. sa. in this suit, at his instance it is agreed that he be set at liberty on giving security to abide the event of an issue to be formed for ascertaining, by judicial decision, whether he has the means, by the property in his marriage settlement or otherwise, of satisfying the judgment, which issue is to be formed by plaintiff's affirmance and defendant's denial of such means, both parties hereby consenting to try such issue at the ensuing session of the circuit court of the United States for this district on the merits, without regard to form or to the time when the jury may be summoned, it being expressly acknowledged by defendant that this agreement is made for his accommodation, without any prejudice whatever to arise to the plaintiff's rights by the defendant's enlargement on security as aforesaid or otherwise howsoever."

"April 8th, 1830 JOHN R. THOMSON"

"I hereby become answerable for the performance of the terms above stated, which I guarantee. R. F. STOCKTON"

"Witness, J. P. Norris, Jr."

"On the part of the plaintiffs in this case, I hereby consent to the defendant's enlargement on the terms stated in his within proposition and agreement of this date."

"9th April, 1830 C.J. INGERSOLL, Attorney"

In pursuance of this agreement, a new suit was entered by agreement on 3 June, 1830, in the Circuit Court of the United States for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in the Third Circuit by these appellants against the appellee to try the issue to be formed under the above agreement of 9 April, 1830.

The case was tried and is reported in Baldwin's Reports 344. It resulted in a verdict for the defendant. Being brought to this Court upon a bill of exceptions, the judgment of the circuit court was affirmed, as reported in 32 U. S. 7 Pet. 348.

Page 56 U. S. 283

The death of Mr. Thomson's wife being supposed to place at his disposal certain property which might be properly applied to the payment of the judgment, Magniac & Co. applied for a rule to show cause why a scire facias should not issue to revive the judgment. Thomson set up his arrest and discharge under the ca. sa. as a legal satisfaction of the judgment. Magniac & Co. then withdrew the rule and filed the present bill.

The substance of the bill is very fully stated in the opinion of the Court, and need not be repeated. The bill was demurred to, and, upon argument, the circuit court sustained the demurrer and dismissed the bill.

The complainants appealed to this Court.

Page 56 U. S. 296

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