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Analogizing and Distinguishing

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Analogizing and Distinguishing

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Donnelly v. Rees, 141 Cal. 56, (1903)

Plaintiff is appealing for a judgment in her behalf and denying the defendants motion for a new trial. Plaintiff is the daughter and sole heir of Patrick Kean, and claims that the defendant fraudulently obtained deed to land containing mines that were owned by Mr. Kean. Plaintiff claims that the deed was obtained at a time when her father was in a state of intoxication and drunken imbecility that rendered her father unfit to rationally perform any business transaction. Mr. Kean was a habitual drunkard for a period of more than five years. Defendants were aware of Mr. Kean’s excessive drinking as they were commonly present when Mr. Kean was drinking. This made Mr. Kean and easy target for thievery and influence by those that did not hold Mr. Kean’s best interests. Had it not been for his drunken state, Mr. Kean would not have participated in such a transaction. ISSUE:

Appeal is from a judgment for the plaintiff and an order denying the defendants’ motion for a new trial. Plaintiff is the daughter and sole heir of the deceased, Patrick Kean, and brings forth this suit to set aside a deed made by her father to the defendant as fraudulently obtained. It is important to distinguish whether the defendants gained the land by fraud, or by undue influence that would make them an involuntary trustee of the land gained. RULE:

General rule is that a court of equity will not grant relief to a person that has made a deed in order to defraud creditors. The rule is founded on the necessity of preventing imposition or preventing the perpetration of a greater fraud by the grantee. ANALYSIS:

The court finds that due to fraud, undue influence, and a violation of trust to the deceased, the plaintiff is entitled to recover in procuring the original conveyance. Parties are not in pari delicto, or equal in fault as the offense of the party that is imposed upon is trivial in comparison as to those who take advantage of the...

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