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RADFORD v. MYERS

January 5, 1914

RADFORD
v.
MYERS



ERROR TO THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF MICHIGAN

White, McKenna, Holmes, Day, Lurton, Hughes, Van Devanter, Lamar, Pitney

Author: Day

[ 231 U.S. Page 727]

 MR. JUSTICE DAY delivered the opinion of the court.

Elijah E. Myers brought this suit in the Circuit Court of Wayne County, State of Michigan, against George W. Radford, the plaintiff in error herein, for an accounting and for a decree for the balance due him from a judgment in a suit of the former in which the latter acted as one of his attorneys and received the amount of the judgment. Myers having died during the pendency of the action, it was revived in the name of his executrix, the defendant in error. The decree of the Circuit Court in favor of the

[ 231 U.S. Page 728]

     defendant in error was affirmed by the Supreme Court of the State of Michigan (167 Michigan, 135), and the case comes here on error.

The record discloses that Myers had entered into a contract with the County of Luzerne, State of Pennsylvania, to furnish the plans and specifications for a court-house and had certain claims against the County arising therefrom. Counsel had been employed and suit commenced, but little progress made. Myers had assigned a one-half interest in the contract to his son, George W. Myers. In this state of affairs the elder Myers employed the plaintiff in error, who had theretofore been his attorney and to whom he was indebted, to prosecute the court-house claim. To secure his indebtedness to Radford, Myers assigned his remaining one-half interest in the claim to the plaintiff in error. Later, April 2, 1900, George W. Myers assigned his one-half interest to the plaintiff in error, the latter to account to him for the proceeds after deducting a $1,000 attorney's fee and one-half of the costs, to which assignment Elijah E. Myers gave his written assent; and shortly thereafter, April 11, 1900, George W. Myers, in consideration of $150, transferred his interest in his prior assignment and in the assignment from his father to him to the plaintiff in error.

The plaintiff in error engaged local counsel in Pennsylvania, who commenced suit in the United States Circuit Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, and prosecuted the court-house claim to a successful termination (Myers v. Luzerne County, 124 Fed. Rep. 436). Thereupon George W. Myers intervened in that suit, setting up his right to one-half of the judgment, claiming that his assignment to Radford had been fraudulently obtained; and one-half of the amount of the judgment was paid into court. Upon the petition of the plaintiff in error to remove the money, the jurat of which was signed by Elijah E. Myers, the court decreed that the

[ 231 U.S. Page 729]

     assignment was valid and awarded the fund to Radford, and dismissed George W. Myers' claim.

Elijah E. Myers thereafter brought this suit, alleging among other things that Radford, on April 11, 1900, acting on his behalf, purchased the one-half interest assigned by him to George W. Myers, and that at that time it was distinctly understood and agreed between the plaintiff in error and himself that the one-half interest so purchased, with the one-half interest assigned by him to Radford, should be held as security for the payment of all his indebtedness to Radford for loans and services and for the payment of the $150 given by Radford to George W. Myers and all costs in the litigation of the court-house claim, and that, after deducting such amounts from the judgment collected, the plaintiff in error should pay the balance to him. The plaintiff in error contended that the judgment in the United States Circuit Court was res judicata as to his right to the one-half interest in the court-house claim assigned to him by George W. Myers. He further alleged, however, that, notwithstanding his absolute ownership of the George W. Myers' one-half interest, he purchased it with the distinct intention that he would apply for the benefit of Elijah E. Myers the balance, if he succeeded in collecting the claim, after paying expenses and services and all Myers' indebtedness to him. But, he alleged, he did not intend to waive his right as absolute owner or allow Myers to dictate the amount of expenses, services or indebtedness. The Circuit Court entered a decree for the balance due Myers.

The Supreme Court held that the assignment of April 2, 1900, was merged in the assignment of April 11, 1900, and also held that the Federal decision in Pennsylvania had not determined that the trust relation between the plaintiff in error and Elijah E. Myers had terminated; as to which holdings the plaintiff in error ...


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