Stovall v. Banks - 77 U.S. 583 (1870)
U.S. Supreme Court
Stovall v. Banks, 77 U.S. 10 Wall. 583 583 (1870)
Stovall v. Banks
77 U.S. (10 Wall.) 583
1. A decree which adjudges a certain sum of money to be due from an administrator to each of the distributees of his intestate's estate and awards execution to collect it is a final decree. An added direction that the defendant be allowed, as payment to each of the distributees, the amount of any note held by him against them, and also that the several shares of the parties to whom the estate is awarded shall be subject to ratable deduction for fees yet unpaid for the collection of notes belonging to the administrator, does not make the decree less final, especially when it does not appear that the administrator held any notes against any of the distributees or that there were any unpaid fees.
2. Sureties in an administration bond are bound by a decree against their administrator finding assets in his hands, and nonpayment of them over, to the same extent to which the administrator himself is bound. They cannot attack collaterally a decree made against him on such a subject.
3. A decree of a court of competent jurisdiction awarding a sum in the hands of an administrator to distributees cannot be attacked collaterally.
This was an action of covenant upon an administration bond, brought by the ordinary of Morgan County, Georgia, for the use of persons claiming to be distributees of the estate of Alfred Eubanks, deceased, against the administrator, who was the principal obligor, and against his sureties in the bond. At the trial, the plaintiff offered in evidence the record of a suit in chancery in the Morgan County Superior Court in which the persons for whose use this suit was brought were complainants and the administrator, with others who also claimed to be heirs and distributees of the estate of the decedent, were defendants. By that record it appeared that the superior court adjudged the sum of $31,743.50, assets of the decedent's estate, to be in the hands of the administrator and made an order distributing the whole. In the distribution, $3,820 were decreed to be paid to each of the complainants in the bill, and it was ordered that they should have executions for the respective sums adjudged to them on application to the clerk of the court after four days from its adjournment. The record further exhibited that executions were issued upon the decree, that no objection was made to the issue, and that to all of the executions the sheriff returned "No property of the defendant or of the estate of Alfred Eubanks to be found upon which to levy."
In addition to this, however, the record showed that the court, after having fixed the sum due to each complainant and ordered its payment, and after having awarded execution, went on to direct that the administrator should be allowed as payment to the respective parties, to be deducted from the amounts therein adjudged to them, the principal and interest of any note held by him against either of them, and also that the several shares of the parties to whom the estate was awarded should be subjected to ratable deduction for fees yet unpaid for the collection of notes belonging to the administrator.
When this record was offered in evidence, the district court rejected it, holding that the decree was not final, and consequently that it could not be read in evidence for any
purpose in the case. This action of the court was now here for review.