Johnson v. Waters
111 U.S. 640 (1884)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Johnson v. Waters, 111 U.S. 640 (1884)

Johnson v. Waters

Argued October 16-17, 1883

Decided May 5, 1884

111 U.S. 640

Syllabus

In Louisiana, a donation to take effect at the death of the donor, so far as it is gratuitous, is a donation mortis causa, which can be made only by will and testament, or by an instrument clothed with the forms required for validity as such and clearly showing by its provisions that it is a disposition by will.

In Louisiana a donation of land inter vivos, reserving the use to the donor until his death, is void if made without consideration -- if made with a partial consideration, the value of the object given exceeding by one-half or more that of the charges or services -- quaere whether the gift will not be of a mixed nature, one part sale and valid, and one part donation and invalid.

A circuit court of the United States has jurisdiction in equity of proceedings under a bill filed by a creditor of the estate of a deceased person to set aside for fraud a sale of the real estate of the deceased which was made and confirmed by order of a state court having competent jurisdiction, when the inquiry is not into irregularities of proceeding in the other court, but into actual fraud in obtaining the judgment or decree of sale and confirmation.

A creditor of the estate of a deceased person may maintain an independent suit in equity to set aside for fraud a sale of real estate of the deceased made under order of court, though a party to the proceedings, if he was no party to the fraud, and was ignorant of it until after confirmation or homologation of the sale, and no question about it was before the court which confirmed the sale and passed upon the executor's accounts.

In Louisiana, the acknowledgment of a succession debt by an executor or administrator, and the ranking of it by the judge in the manner provided by the Code of Practice, suspend the prescription.

A complaint which sets forth as cause of action a subject which is prescribed, without setting forth the matter which takes it out of the prescription, may be amended so as to set that matter forth, if the answer admits its truth.

Page 111 U. S. 641

A defective description of the representative capacity of a defendant in the subpoena which summons him in is cured if he is properly described in the bill and if he appears, even by the defective title, and answers generally without objection.

In a creditor's bill, brought on behalf of the plaintiff and such other creditors as may become parties, it is error in granting relief to confine it to the creditor complaining. The usual and correct practice is, by means of a reference to a master, to give to all valid creditors an opportunity to come in and have the benefit of the decree.

On the facts in this case, the sale of the testator's real estate made by order of a parish court in Louisiana and confirmed by that court is void for fraud as against bona fide creditors.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

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