Richards v. Maryland Insurance Company
12 U.S. 84 (1814)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Richards v. Maryland Insurance Company, 12 U.S. 8 Cranch 84 84 (1814)

Richards v. Maryland Insurance Company

12 U.S. (8 Cranch) 84

Syllabus

Upon the death of the assignee, under the bankrupt law of the United States, the right of action for a debt due to the bankrupt vested in the executor of the assignee.

If an executor do not cause himself to be made party to a suit brought in the lifetime and in the name of the testator and pending at his death, it is to be considered as a voluntary abandonment of the action, so as to exclude the executor from the equity of the exceptions to the statute of limitations.

At common law, no action could be renewed by Journey's accounts in a case of voluntary abandonment.

The cases which, though literally within the words of the statute of limitations, have been held to be without its spirit, are those only in which circumstances intervened which rendered it impossible or incompetent with known and established principles that a cause of action could be revived by the renewal of the contract or enforced by a suit at law within the time prescribed.

The object of the law is to secure the individual from the machinations of dishonesty when attempted under the advantages attendant upon lapse of time, loss of papers, and death of witnesses.

Error to the Circuit Court for the District of Maryland in an action of covenant on a policy of insurance

Page 12 U. S. 85

under seal. The defendants pleaded the Maryland statute of limitation of 12 years, 1715, ch. 23, § 6, which enacts

"That no specialty whatsoever shall be good and pleadable or admitted in evidence against any person or persons of this province after the principal debtor and creditor have been both dead 12 years or the debt or thing in action above 12 years standing,"

with a saving of 5 years in cases of infancy, &c.

The replication to this plea stated in substance the following facts:

That the cause of action accrued on 1 May, 1797. That McKean was declared a bankrupt, and on 19 March, 1801, his estate was duly assigned to Thomas Allibone, who, on 6 October, 1806, instituted a suit on the policy and died on 1 August, 1809, whereby the suit was abated. That on 11 January, 1810, the plaintiffs were by the commissioners appointed assignees in pursuance of the choice of the creditors regularly convened for that purpose, and brought the present action at the next term after the death of Allibone, the former assignee. To this replication there was a general demurrer.

The judgment of the court below upon the demurrer was in favor of the defendants, and the plaintiffs brought their writ of error.

Page 12 U. S. 91

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