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United States Supreme Court

75 U.S. 370

Mattingly  v.  Nye

APPEAL from the District of Columbia; the case being thus:

Nye, a man not very provident, bought a city lot of no great value in Washington, with some money that he had, and on the 25th June, 1857, had it conveyed in trust for his wife and children, to one Harkness as trustee. The purchase and conveyance in trust was made, as it seems by Harkness's own account of it, by Nye at the suggestion of Harkness, 'who, living in the neighborhood of Nye, and having frequent opportunities of seeing the destitution and need of the family, and the infirm and broken health of the wife, interested himself in securing a home for herself and children, proposed a conveyance by which the property should be secured against the contingencies of any future recklessness or want of care in the said Nye.' On the 21st July, 1860-that is to say a little more than three years after this transaction-Nye obtained money of one Mattingly, a person with whom he had had frequent money dealings, and sometimes as it seemed at exorbitant rates (including some dealings before the purchase), making, for the money now got, an assignment of a certain claim, but whether in satisfaction or as security the assignment did not clearly show. The money not being repaid, Mattingly sued and obtained judgment against him on the 10th June, 1863; and execution having issued without result, he now filed a creditor's bill againt him, his wife and children, making the trustee also a party, to set the trust aside, and have satisfaction from the property conveyed. The bill alleged that at the date of the purchase and settlement Nye owed him money; but this was denied by the answer, and, as this court considered on an examination of the evidence, not true!

It was also asserted in Nye's answer that the judgment given was given by default, and that nothing was due by him to Mattingly even then.

The question was, therefore, the validity, as against a party becoming a creditor three years afterwards, of a settlement in favor of his family, made by a man not indebted at the time, and made apparently without fraudulent intent in fact; the case being complicated only by the point set up in the answer of Nye, to wit, that the judgment on which the creditor's bill was filed was for an unfounded claim, and got through his own default.

The court below thought the settlement good; and dismissing the bill, Mattingly appealed.

Messrs. Cox and Phillips, for the appellant.

Mr. Bradley, contra, relied on Sexton v. Wheaton; and note thereto in 1 American Leading Cases, 1. He contended also, that there being a proceeding in equity which rested wholly on an assumption of a valid judgment, as a base, it was competent for the defendant to show that in fact the judgment had no validity; even if by so doing he impeached it collaterally.

Mr. Justice SWAYNE delivered the opinion of the court.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).