Wilkins v. Ellett Administrator

Court Documents

United States Supreme Court

76 U.S. 740

Wilkins  v.  Ellett Administrator

ERROR to the Circuit Court for the Western District of Tennessee; the case was this:

Quarles being domiciled in the State of Alabama, died there, and letters of administration were there taken out by one Goodloe, of that State. Wilkins, a resident of Memphis, Tennessee, owed the estate $3455, and being called upon at Memphis by Goodloe, the administrator, paid the debt and took a receipt. Goodloe duly accounted before the Probate Court in Alabama for the sum thus received. Afterwards, Ellett, a citizen of the State of Virginia, and who professed to be next of kin to the deceased, took out letters of administration in Tennessee, and brought this suit against Wilkins to recover the same debt. There were no creditors or persons entitled as distributees of the intestate in the State of Tennessee. The court below, holding that the voluntary payment by Wilkins to the Alabama administrator was in his own wrong, gave judgment for the plaintiff. Wilkins, the debtor, now brought the case to this court; the question, of course, being whether voluntary payment to the foreign administrator had discharged the home one.

Mr. D. K. McRae, in support of the judgment below:

The identical question in this case has been presented and settled in Tennessee. [1] It is there taken for granted as settled doctrine in England and America, that an administrator appointed in one country is not by virtue of such appointment entitled to sue, in his official capacity, in any other country. He is a stranger to the debt, without authority to receive or give acquittance.

Judge Story, who, in Trecothick v. Austin, [2] uttered a dictum to a contrary effect, directly controverts the position of the dictum in his Conflict of Laws, [3] where the question is properly presented with its qualifications.

Messrs. Humes and Poston, contra.

Mr. Justice NELSON delivered the opinion of the court.


^1  Young, Administrator v. O'Neal, 3 Sneed, 55.

^2  4 Mason, 16-33.

^3  Conflict of Laws, §§ 514, 514, a, 514 b, 515.

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).