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FOREIGN ADMINISTRATION: WIDOW'S ALLOWANCE NON-RESIDENT DECEDENTS.— The Supreme Judicial Court of Maine, in the case of Smith v. Howard, 1 hold, in a learned and well reasoned opinion, that a judge of probate in that State has no authority to decree an allowance to the widow of a non-resident decedent from assets in that jurisdiction on which there is ancillary administration. The widow's claim for an allowance is not only controlled by the law of the State where the deceased husband had his home at the time of his death, but the decree therefor must be made by the Probate Court in the State of the decedent's domicile. Whether the widow's situation would have been improved, if she had obtained from the court in Massachusetts a decree for an allowance with a representation of insufficient assets there to respond to it, and had then asked to have the claim satisfied from the assets in Maine, subject to the claims of creditors residing there, was a question which the court mooted, but did not decide. The opinion of the court, which is written by Mr. Justice Whitehouse, is a clear and learned presentation of the subject on principle and judicial authority, found in the decisions of other States, principally in those of Massachusetts. Having dealt with the question as solved by decisions in Maine and Massachusetts, the learned Justice proceeded further to say:
But eminently respectable authorities involving a similar state of facts strongly support the views above stated. In Richardson v. Lewis,the domicile of the decendent and his family was in Illinois at the time of his death, and the widow obtained an order from the court there for the payment of an allowance under the laws of that State. There were insufficient assets in Illinois to satisfy the claim, but further assets were found in St. Louis. Thereupon the widow applied to the court in St. Louis for the allowance provided for by the laws of Missouri, and it was held that the Missouri statutes authorizing such allowance had no application to the widows of non-resident decedents, and the application was denied. In the opinion by Judge Thompson the court says: “We rest our decision upon the universal principle of the common law that the succession of the personal property of a deceased person is governed exclusively by the law of his actual domicile at the time of his death." « The statutes invoked are a temporary provision for the widows of deceased persons analogous to the provisions of statutes exempting certain property of debtors from execution. The very nature of such an allowance precludes the idea that the widow can be entitled to it in any State except that of the husband's domicile; for otherwise she should be entitled to this exemption from the claims of his creditors in every State in which he might have personal property.” In Medley v. Dunlap,the decendent had his domicile in Arkansas at the time of his death. His widow soon after reinoved to North Carolina and there applied for an allowance under the laws of that State. It was held that
1 86 Me. 203.
2 21 Mo. App. 531.
3 90 N. C. 527.
she was not entitled to it; but in the opinion the court says: "If the laws of Arkansas provide for such an allowance, the plaintiff ought to have applied there and had her claim allowed and paid, or, if there were no sufficient assets to pay it there, then she might have her claim thus allowed, satisfied out of assets in this State, upon proper application to the administrator here. But she cannot reach the assets of her deceased husband here in any other way."
NEGLIGENCE: MALPRACTICE OF SURGEON EMPLOYED IN RAILWAY HOSPITAL.— There is a considerable class of recent holdings to the effect that a steamship company, which is required by an act of Congress to keep on board its vessels, during their voyages, a competent physician and surgeon, discharges its duty to its passengers, imposed upon it by the statute, when it employs a duly qualified physician and surgeon, of good repute in his profession, and furnishes him with the proper medicines and appliances. In like manner, it has been held that one who has been a patient in an incorporated hospital, which is a public charitable institution, cannot recover damages from the corporation because of an injury inflicted upon him through the unskillful treatment of a physician there employed. In the case of Eighmy v. Union Pacific R. Co.,3 the Supreme Court of Iowa hold that a railway company which voluntarily furnishes a hospital for the treatment of its wounded employes, is not liable for the malpractice of its surgeon, provided it furnishes qualified and competent surgeons for that purpose.
INJUNCTION AGAINST HEALING THE SICK BY THE LAYING ON OF HANDS AND OTHER DIVINE METHODS.— The nearest attempt at suing out an injunction against the Almighty, of which we have any knowledge, occurred recently in the Superior Court of Cook County, Illinois, at Chicago, in the case of Maguire v. Dowie. John Alexander Dowie claimed and claims the power to heal the sick by bringing Almighty God to his aid, through prayer and the laying on of hands. This divine power he brings to bear successfully upon all diseases which human flesh is heir to. He went into a respectable residence neighborhood of
1 Allen v. State Steamship Co., 132 N. Y.91; 8. C. 30 N. E. Rep. 482; 43 N. Y. St. Rep. 386; 15 L. R. A. 166; reversing 8. c. 29 N. Y. St. Rep. 288; 8 N. Y. Supp. 803; O'Brien v. Cunard Steamship Co., 154 Mass. 272; 8. c. 28 N. E. Rep. 266; Laubheim 0. De
Koninglyke N. Steamship Co., 107 N.
? Mac Donald v. Hospital, 120 Mass. 432.
3 61 N. W. Rep. 1056.
* Reported 27 Chicago Legal News, No. 47.
Chicago, rented some vacant ground and erected a large rough building and put upon it the sign, “International Divine Healing Association;" and there, before large audiences that were ignorant and prejudiced enough to be his dupes, he carried on, the alleged work of “ divine healing.” Two adjacent property-owners brought an action in equity to enjoin the business thus carried on, and Judge Payne, after hearing the allegations and proofs, refused the injunction. He proceeded on the ground that the evidence failed to show that the establishment was a nuisance. But why did not Dowie and his able counsel demur to the bill for a defect of parties, on the ground that Dowie's divine coadjutor had not been made a party defendant to the bill?
CORPORATION: VALIDITY OF THE DEED OF A CORPORATION EXECUTED BY ITS TREASURER IN His Own NAME. - In Norris v. Dains, it is held by the Supreme Court of Ohio that an assignment of a lease which, in its granting clause, purports to be made by a person therein described as the treasurer of an in corporated company, and which is signed by the hand of such treasurer with the seal of the company annexed, — is the deed of the treasurer, and not the deed of the corporation. No questions relating to conveyancing and the construction of written instruments possess greater difficulty than the class of questions to which this case relates. In the absence of a plain statutory direction, or of a settled custom such as exists in the case of the signing and indorsing of negotiable instruments by the cashiers of banks, there is absolutely no safety in any mode of execution except that which names the corporation as the contracting party everywhere in the body of the instrument, using its full name without any misleading abbreviation, and which then signs the instrument with the name of the corporation, by the officer or agent executing it for the corporation; and, if it is an instrument which, in the case of a natural person, the law requires to be executed under seal, by adding the seal of the corporation. While the courts have in some cases been very lenient in allowing a scrawl, made opposite the name of the officer or agent executing the instrument, to be regarded as the seal of the corporation, yet it is never safe to execute a sealed instrument except by using the actual seal of the corporation, with the attestation of the officer who is
1 39 N. E. Rep. 660.
2 In a recent work on the subject of corporations, no less than 66 pages are devoted to an attempt to exhibit
the state of the case law on this class of questions: 4 Thomp. Corp., $8 5015– 5184.
the proper custodian of its seal, usually its secretary. The president and the secretary, acting concurrently, are the officers by whom the sealed obligations of a corporation are regularly and customarily executed; though it is, of course, competent for the corporation, by a by-law, resolution of the directors, or other authorization, or even by an established custom, to devolve this duty upon some other officer or agent. Unsealed instruments are frequently held valid when signed by the name of the officer or agent for the corporation; and it has been ruled in some cases that such an instrument should either be signed with the name of the corporation by the officer or agent, or with the name of the officer or agent for the corporation. The soundness of the decision of the Supreme Court of Ohio, above quoted, is, to say the least, doubtful. In every case of this kind the judge should constantly keep in mind that the question is one of interpretation, and that the office of interpretation is to ascertain from the language of the instrument what the parties to it really intended. Any hard-and-fast rule of interpretation, which ignores this principle, is not interpretation at all ; but it involves the arbitrary and unjust act on the part of the court, of making a contract for parties which, as the court perceives and believes, the parties did not intend to make for themselves; or (what is nearly the same thing) of destroying a contract which they have made, when their meaning can be gathered from the language used with sufficient certainty to uphold it. In the case under consideration, while the treasurer used his own name in the body of the instrument as the contracting party, yet he added, immediately thereafter, a description of his office. There is a great mass of authority to the effect that, in such a case, the words describing the office will be rejected as descriptio persone, - that is, rejected as surplusage -- cast out of the instrument, and treated as though they had never been written therein. But there is an almost equal mass of authority to the contrary; and, besides, the authority to the contrary is more modern. On principle, there is no sense, and consequently no justice, in rejecting any words in a written instrument as surplusage, to which any value can be ascribed, and the use of which, according to the known habits of men, imports a certain and definite value. If a man were executing a deed of lease on his own property he would not think of describing himself as secretary of a corporation that had nothing to do with the lease, no more than a man who might happen to be a judge of a court, in executing such an instrument, would add his official designation. At least, then, a judge desirous of really interpreting the instrument so
1 4 Thomp. Corp., & 5146.
as to find out the intention of the parties to it would give some value to these descriptive words — would regard them as tending to the conclusion that the intention of the parties was that a deed should be executed on behalf of the corporation therein referred to. When, in addition to this, the seal of the corporation — not that of the officer executing the instrument — is affixed to it, this presumption becomes almost conclusive. There are modern decisions to the effect that a promissory note executed in the name of an officer of a corporation, with the addition of a description of his office, and signed by him with such addition, is helped out, and shown to be the note of the corporation, by the addition of the corporate seal.1 At least, in such a case the meaning of the instrument ought to be regarded as ambiguous in such a sense as to let in parol evidence to explain its meaning; and such was the view of the court in one of the cases just cited. Indeed, the modern tendency is to ignore the hard-and-fast rule which stands upon the grammatical structure of the instrument, and which rejects the words descriptive of the office of the person who executes it, whether in the body of the instrument or in the signature, and to let in parol evidence to explain which party was really intended to be bounů, the officer or the coporation. This course should have been directed by the Supreme Court of Ohio in the case under comment. It would have resulted, beyond all question, in giving to the party, claiming under the instrument as the instrument of the corporation, an opportunity of proving that fact. Indeed, the fact would have been confessed as soon as the rule had been laid down as the law of the case, unless the corporation were prepared to dispute the authority of its treasurer to execute the instrument, a totally different question from that which related to his manner of executing it. Instead of this, the Supreme Court of Ohio, following an ancient, encrusted, and partly obsolete rule of interpretation, have gone against what every judge of the court no doubt believed to be the real meaning of the instrument and the real purpose of the parties to it; and we say that this is not the way that justice should be administered.
THE INNKEEPERS' LIEN AND THE COMMERCIAL TRAVELER Robins v. Gray.3 - At last we have an out-and-out decision upon a point in the
1 4 Thomp. Corp., § 4115; Guthrie 0. Imbrie, 12 Or.; 8. C., 53 Am. Rep. 331; Means v. Swormstedt, 32 Ind. 87; 8. c. 2 Am. Rep. 330; Scanlan v. Keith, 102 Ill. 634; 8. C. 40 Am. Rep.
624. Contra, Dutton v. Marsh, L. R. 6
(1895) 2 Q. B. 501.