Kitchen v. Bedford
80 U.S. 413 (1871)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Kitchen v. Bedford, 80 U.S. 13 Wall. 413 413 (1871)

Kitchen v. Bedford

80 U.S. (13 Wall.) 413

Syllabus

1. Where a person acknowledged the. receipt of "the sum of $119,000 in bonds" of a railroad company, and of "50,405 dollars of coupons," amounting in the aggregate to "the sum of $169,405," "which said sum he promised to expend in the purchase of lands" of that same railroad company, "at or near the average price of $5 per acre," held that this was a trust to buy the lands with the bonds at or near the price of $5 an acre, and not to buy them with the proceeds of the bonds after they were sold at a nominal price.

2. Purchasers who fraudulently purchased, in breach of the trust, held liable in trover.

3. The statute law of Arkansas has not changed the common law rule that a husband cannot legally make a gift to his wife during coverture. Where a husband has not parted with the legal title to bonds of which he may have made an equitable gift for his wife's benefit, he can call any person to account who unlawfully converts them.

Kitchen, a citizen of Arkansas, brought trover in the court below against a certain Bedford and one Webber for the conversion of one hundred and nineteen bonds of the Cairo & Fulton Railroad Company for $1,000 each, dated October 1, 1857, and payable in New York in 1882, with semiannual interest represented by interest warrants annexed to the bonds. The conversion was laid as on the 1st of December, 1866. Plea, "Not guilty." A jury being waived, the cause was tried by the court in May, 1870, and

Page 80 U. S. 414

judgment rendered for the defendants. A bill of exceptions was taken, however, from which it appeared that on the trial evidence was given tending to establish the following facts, to-wit:

The plaintiff, on the 16th of March, 1866, being owner of the bonds described in the declaration, gave them to his wife and put them in the hands of one W. C. Rayburn on the terms and for the purposes set out in the following writing, which Rayburn executed under seal, to-wit:

"WALCOT, ARKANSAS, March 16, 1866"

"Received from Martha Kitchen, the sum of one hundred and nineteen thousand dollars in bonds of the Cairo & Fulton Railroad Company of Missouri, and I also received fifty thousand four hundred and five dollars of coupons or interest warrants, due and owing by said company, amounting in the aggregate to the sum of one hundred and sixty-nine thousand four hundred and five dollars, which said sum I promise to expend in the purchase of lands from John Moore, John Wilson, and Albert G. Waterman, trustees of the said railroad company of Missouri, at or near the average price of five dollars per acre, taking the deeds in my own name, and I further promise to sell all the lands purchased as aforesaid as soon as possible at such prices as the said Kitchen may direct, and if I should fail to sell all said lands as soon as said Kitchen may desire, then I promise to sell the same at public auction whenever so directed by the said Kitchen, and after deducting the expenses of stamps and necessary traveling expenses, to pay unto the said Martha Kitchen, or her legal representatives, seven-eighths of all the money that I may sell the said lands for. Given under my hand and seal the date above written."

"[SEAL] W. C. RAYBURN"

Rayburn having received the bonds for the purpose thus indicated, in December, 1866, sold and delivered them to the defendant Bedford for $10,000, and he sold and delivered them to defendant Webber, who afterwards sold them for $26,340, each knowing, when purchasing, the purposes for which Rayburn held them, as expressed in the writing.

Page 80 U. S. 415

A demand for the bonds and coupons was made by the plaintiff of the defendants before the suit was brought.

The court declared that on this evidence the plaintiff could not recover, and the plaintiff having excepted, now brought the case here accordingly.

Page 80 U. S. 416

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