Boyd v. Wyly,
124 U.S. 98 (1888)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Boyd v. Wyly, 124 U.S. 98 (1888)

Boyd v. Wyly

Argued December 14-15, 1887

Decided January 9, 1888

124 U.S. 98


On a consideration of all the proof in this case, the Court holds (1) that Boyd was a party to the proceedings which resulted in his removal from his office as executor, and (2) that there is no reason to reverse the decree of the court below on the merits.

This was a bill in equity filed in the Circuit Court of the United States for the Western District of Louisiana on September 10, 1881, on behalf of Mary E. R. Boyd, wife of Frederick W. Boyd, by her son and next friend, James R. Boyd, citizens of Wisconsin, against William G. Wyly and Charles Egelly, of the Parish of East Carroll, citizens of Louisiana, and to which by an amendment Frederick W. Boyd, of Wisconsin, was made an additional defendant as dative testamentary executor of the last will of James Railey, late of Adams County, Mississippi. The bill averred that on February 1, 1860, James Railey, the father of the complainant, made his last will, and died in the summer of that year, leaving large estates in Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana which were disposed of by the will, bequeathing to the complainant a certain plantation in the Parish of Carroll, Louisiana, known as the Raleigh Plantation; that James G. Carson was named in the will as executor; that the will was duly probated in the proper court of the Parish of Carroll, and that Carson qualified according to law as executor, and took upon himself the burden of the execution of the will; that an inventory and appraisement of the property of the succession in the Parish of Carroll were made on December 12, 1860, and that the lands of said Raleigh Plantation were valued at $119,393, which was the fair and reasonable value of the same; that thereafter, Carson having died, Frederick W. Boyd, the husband of the complainant, was duly appointed dative testamentary executor of said will, and

Page 124 U. S. 99

qualified as such, and that on July 16, 1866, in due course of administration, he caused the said Raleigh Plantation to be again inventoried and appraised as containing 1935 acres at $55 per acre, making in the aggregate $95,645, which was alleged to be the fair and reasonable value of the same at that time.

The bill further alleged that in July, 1868, the defendants Wyly and Egelly combined and confederated with Edward Sparrow and J. West Montgomery, attorneys at law, and with divers other persons to defraud the complainant by procuring, under the forms of law, a sale to Wyly of the Raleigh Plantation at a price far below its real value; that to accomplish the said fraud, they took advantage of the temporary absence of Frederick W. Boyd, the dative testamentary executor, and instituted on July 16, 1868, proceedings in the Parish Court of Carroll Parish to destitute him from his said office and to procure the appointment of Egelly as administrator of the succession; that Boyd was not made a party to the proceedings, either personally or by the appointment of a curator ad hoc to represent him, and had no notice of the proceedings, nor of any subsequent proceedings resulting in the sale of the Raleigh Plantation to Wyly until after the same had been consummated; that on the same day on which said proceedings to destitute Boyd of the executorship were instituted (merely upon the ex parte affidavit of Montgomery, one of the lawyers who had instituted the proceedings), judgment was rendered removing the executor from his office, and thereafter, on September 16, 1868, the defendant Egelly was appointed administrator of the succession, and gave bond as such, with his attorney, Montgomery, as surety.

The bill further alleged that on the same day, the proceedings for the destitution of the executor were instituted and ended, July 16, 1868, an order was obtained for a new inventory and appraisement of the property of the succession, and that the defendants, Wyly and Egelly, in combination with Montgomery, caused such an inventory and appraisement to be made on September 4, 1868, by ignorant and incompetent appraisers, who corruptly and fraudulently appraised the value

Page 124 U. S. 100

of the lands of the Raleigh Plantation at the insignificant sum of $2,533.05. The bill further alleged that under the pretext that it was necessary to sell the said plantation in order to pay debts of said succession to the amount of $46,000, of which $6,000 were alleged to be due to Sparrow & Montgomery, as attorneys of the estate, an order was obtained from the parish court for the sale of the same for cash, and that after a single advertisement in an obscure paper, the plantation was, without the knowledge of the complainant or the said Frederick W. Boyd, on October 20, 1868, fraudulently adjudicated to Wyly for the said sum of $2,533.05, being at the rate of $1.50 per acre for the said lands. The bill further alleged that the fraudulent character of the transaction was well known to Wyly, who participated therein and who thereby became a purchaser of the said plantation in bad faith, and should be held in equity to have acquired the legal title to the said Raleigh Plantation in trust for the complainant, responsible to her from the date of his purchase for the rents and revenues thereof. The bill further alleged that shortly after the adjudication of the plantation to Wyly, he sued out in the proper court a process known to the law of Louisiana as a monition, alleging that he was an innocent third party who had purchased the plantation in good faith, and praying for an adjudication of homologation of title, which was accordingly entered.

The bill charged that under the laws of Louisiana, said judgment of homologation of title extended only to the cure of defects of form, and not to the validation and ratification of acts of fraud and spoliation, such as are alleged to have infected the pretended purchase of said property by Wyly. The bill called for answers, but not under oath, and prayed for a decree declaring the pretended sale of the Raleigh Plantation by the said Egelly to Wyly on October 20, 1868, to be collusive, fraudulent, null and void, and that Wyly was a purchaser thereof in bad faith, and that he be required to deliver possession thereof to the complainant, to account to her for the fruits and revenues thereof, and for general relief.

The defendants, Wyly and Egelly, answered the bill setting up various technical objections to its frame in bar of the relief

Page 124 U. S. 101

prayed, and also denying positively and circumstantially all allegations therein imputing or charging fraud in the sale and purchase of the said plantation.

The cause was heard upon the pleadings and full proofs, when the court found that Wyly had acquired by the proceedings referred to a valid title to the property without fraud in fact or in law on his part, and was entitled as a purchaser in good faith to the protection of the defense based upon the statutory prescription of ten years. The bill was accordingly dismissed, from which decree this appeal was prosecuted.

Page 124 U. S. 102

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