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NOONAN V. BRADLEY, 79 U. S. 121 (1870)

U.S. Supreme Court

Noonan v. Bradley, 79 U.S. 12 Wall. 121 121 (1870)

Noonan v. Bradley

79 U.S. (12 Wall.) 121


The Court, admitting that an administrator of a decedent appointed in one state (that of his decedent's residence) cannot, in the absence of statute, maintain an action in another state to enforce an obligation there given to his decedent, yet refused to set aside a decree given by it nine terms ago in favor of such an administrator, who, after an appeal taken and perfected to this Court by his decedent, in a suit by him to enforce an obligation in a state where be was not domiciled, had been substituted by order of court as appellee in the suit, the decedent dying and the substitution having been made in the absence of all ancillary administration, and without opposition by the debtor or by anyone.

Lee, domiciled in New York, sold and conveyed in 1855 to Noonan, domiciled in Wisconsin, a tract of land in the latter state, taking his bond and mortgage for the purchase money. But there being at the time a question as to the validity of Lee's title, he agreed that if the title failed, he would not enforce the bond.

Noonan having made default in his payment, Lee filed a bill in the federal court for Wisconsin praying for a sale of the mortgaged premises, the payment of the mortgage debt,

Page 79 U. S. 122

and for general relief. That court, on an issue made as to whether the title had failed or not, adjudged that it had not failed, and giving judgment in favor of Lee, ordered a sale of the mortgaged premises, and if the mortgaged property did not satisfy the debt, that Noonan should pay the deficiency. From that decree Noonan appealed to this Court, the appeal being the case known as Noonan v. Lee, and reported in <|2 Black 500|>2d Black 500. While that appeal was pending in this Court, Lee died, and one Bradley having received from the proper authority in New York letters of administration on his estate, made suggestion to this Court of Lee's death and asked to be made party on the record. The court granted the request, and ordered "that the said administrator be and hereby is made appellee in the case." The appeal coming on to be heard after this substitution of Bradley, the administrator, as the appellee, the decree was at the December Term, 1862, affirmed except in so far as it ordered Noonan to pay any deficiency. On that minor point it was reversed on grounds of practice.

From the time of the substitution of Bradley on the record, he stood, of course, as the appellee in the case, and all the subsequent proceedings in it from that date were made accordingly.

After this substitution and this decree, this same Bradley, as administrator, sued Noonan personally on his bond in the Circuit Court for Wisconsin. One Ogden had, however, after the date of the substitution and decree but before Bradley's suit on the bond, been appointed by the proper authority in Wisconsin, administrator in that state. And this appointment of an ancillary administrator, and his investiture accordingly as such administrator, with all Lee's assets in Wisconsin -- among which, as of course, was the debt due by Noonan, domiciled there -- Noonan now pleaded in bar to Bradley's suit, against him personally. The circuit court gave judgment for Bradley, the New York administrator, but on the matter coming here at December Term, 1869, in Noonan v. Bradley, reported in <|9 Wall. 394|>9th Wallace 394, on appeal from that judgment, this Court reversed the judgment, declaring

Page 79 U. S. 123

very fully that Bradley, an administrator, appointed in New York, could not by virtue of his appointment there enforce in Wisconsin an obligation due to his intestate by a resident of the latter state, there being in that state an existing administrator, with letters granted by its authority.

In consequence of this decision, Messrs. N. J. Emmons and J. S. Brown, in behalf of Ogden, administrator, as aforesaid, appointed in Wisconsin, now moved the Court to set aside all the proceedings in the case of Noonan v. Lee (the case reported in 2d Black) subsequent to the suggestion of Lee's death, and for an order directing the clerk of this Court to certify to the court below that the appeal of Noonan had abated because Bradley, appointed administrator by a court of New York, was not the legal representative of the deceased as to the already mentioned bond and mortgage, and that Ogden was, and because the appellant, Noonan, did not take measures to compel the appearance of the said true representative, Ogden.

This motion the counsel argued followed as a corollary from the decision of this Court in Noonan v. Bradley in <|9 Wall. 394|>9th Wall. 394, for that the mortgage under which Bradley had finally had a decree was assets in Wisconsin, and assets therefore to which, as was elaborately shown in the opinion given in the case just mentioned, Bradley, appointed by a foreign jurisdiction, could have no right whatsoever. It may perhaps be added that after the decision of this Court in Noonan v. Lee that Lee's title had not failed, Wisconsin courts decided that it had.

Page 79 U. S. 124

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