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GLORIA CHESS WILLIAMS, ADMINISTRATRIX OF THE ESTATE OF M. I. WARD, DECEASED v. CROSIE V. EVANS

JULY 12, 1989

GLORIA CHESS WILLIAMS, ADMINISTRATRIX OF THE ESTATE OF M. I. WARD, DECEASED
v.
CROSIE V. EVANS



BEFORE ROY NOBLE LEE, C.J., PRATHER AND SULLIVAN, JJ.

PRATHER, JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

Crosie Evans, plaintiff below, brought this action in the Chancery Court of Copiah County, against the estate of M. I. Ward, deceased, and its administratrix, Gloria Chess Williams, (hereinafter Estate) defendant below. Evans sought repayment of a loan with interest, totalling $3,983.76, made by him to M. I. Ward prior to Ward's death. The chancellor found in Evans' favor, although he reduced the award by $1,200.00, the value of some property that Ward had deeded to the appellee. Ward's estate, through its administratrix Williams, now appeals the decision of the chancery court, citing as error the following:

(1) EVANS' CLAIM SHOULD HAVE BEEN BARRED BY 15-1-29, 15-1-73 M.C.A. AND THE STATUTE OF FRAUDS, REQUIRING SUSTAINING OF APPELLANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS.

 (2) THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN ITS FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW AS ENTERED IN ITS DECREE APPROVING THE PROBATED CLAIM IN PART ON JUNE 9, 1987.

 I.

 Crosie Evans and M. I. Ward, the decedent, were close friends. In late 1982, Ward was experiencing some unspecified problems with the Internal Revenue Service. (I.R.S.) As a consequence, on or about September 7, 1982, Ward asked Crosie Evans to secure a bank loan and give the proceeds to Ward to allow him to pay off this debt. Evans went to the Bank of Utica, and took out a loan with a face value of $2,800.00. Evans' sister Eva Lee Watts, who lived with Ward, acted as co-signer for the loan and pledged some security. The note, including interest, totalled $3,983.76, payable in 36 monthly installments

 of $110.60. Although his sister was co-signer on the note, Evans paid off the entire amount himself.

 The first check from the loan proceeds was made payable to both Evans and Ward, but Ward asked Evans to get a new check issued payable only to Evans, purportedly to avoid problems with the I.R.S. This was done, and Check No. 228 was issued in the amount of $2,800.00, with Ward listed as the payee. Evans and his sister also testified at trial that Ward signed a document wherein he promised to pay off the full debt in 1986. However, this document was allegedly destroyed when Evans' house was destroyed by an arson-related fire sometime during 1984 or 1985.

 On or about September 15, 1982, Ward deeded to Evans and Watts four and three acres of land, respectively. The Estate maintains that the" loan "to Ward was actually payment for this land. Evans claimed that the deeded land was a gift and that he knew nothing about the land until after Ward had died. Undisputed testimony at trial revealed that the value of the land in 1982 was $200.00 - 250.00 per acre, or approximately $1,400.00 - 1,750.00 for the entire seven-acre tract. In a hearing that was apparently held a short time before the merits of this case were addressed, the value of the land at the time was found to be $300.00 per acre by the chancery court.

 After hearing the testimony by both sides on May 29, 1987, the chancery court found that Evans had a valid claim against the estate. However, the court reduced the award from $3,983.76, the value of the loan with interest, to $2,783.76. The reduction in the award reflected a $1,200.00 credit in the appellants' favor for the four acres of land that had been deeded to Evans by Ward in late 1982. Evans does not challenge this reduction of the award on appeal. Following this adverse ruling by the chancellor, the Estate perfected their appeal to this Court.

 II.

 SHOULD THE APPELLEE'S CLAIM HAVE BEEN BARRED BY 15-1-29, 15-1-73 M.C.A. AND THE STATUTE OF FRAUDS?

 The appellants maintain that through a combination of 15-1-29, 15-1-73 and the Statute of Frauds (codified at 15-3-1) the appellee's claim should have been barred. This Court disagrees.

 Each of these three statutes places certain limitations on the right to bring an action based in contract, both substantive and procedural. Section 15-1-29 addresses time limitations for bringing suit based on unwritten contracts and reads as ...


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