17 Ky.L.Rptr. 662, 98 Ky. 99
Court of Appeals of Kentucky.
PRICHARD'S EX'X v. PEACE et al.
Oct. 10, 1895.
ACTION: Affirmed.


Appeal from circuit court, Knox county.
"To be officially reported."
Action by W. H. Peace, as administrator, and others, against W. M. Prichard's executors, on a bond. Plaintiffs had judgment, and Prichard's executrix appeals.

EASTIN, J.
This action was brought in the Whitley circuit court by the administrator and some of the heirs of John Peace, deceased, against the executors of W. M. Prichard, deceased, and one Owens, as surety on Prichard's bond as administrator of the estate of said Peace. It is alleged in the petition that Prichard, as administrator of John Peace, deceased, had received money and personal property, to a considerable amount, which he had failed to account for during his life, and that he was on this account indebted to plaintiff in the sum of more than $800 at the time of his death, and this claim they seek to establish and enforce as a liability against his estate. The action was, by agreement, transferred to the Knox circuit court; and on December 18, 1883, the executors of Prichard filed an answer, controverting the allegations of the petition, and in which they also attempted to plead a counterclaim against the plaintiffs in the action. The case was then consolidated with another action pending in that court, wherein Prichard, as administrator of Peace, had been conducting a protracted litigation for some years before his death, with one Evans; and the record in that case constitutes a considerable part of the voluminous transcript before us on this appeal. The action was several times referred to the court's commissioner for a report upon the condition of Prichard's accounts as administrator. Proof was taken by both parties, and transactions extending back over a period of 10 or 12 years were brought into the account by one party or the other; and at the July term, 1892, just 12 years after the suit was brought, the circuit court finally reached a judgment in favor of Peace's heirs for the sum of $401.31, from which this appeal is prosecuted by the executrix of W. M. Prichard.

No review of the testimony, and no analysis of the numerous vouchers, many of which extend back over a period of 25 years, will be attempted here, but it is sufficient to say that the court below, with the aid of its commissioner, seems to have fully considered all these matters, and we perceive no error in its conclusion as to the amount of the administrator's indebtedness to the estate of John Peace, deceased. Indeed, this question is not discussed or alluded to in the brief of counsel for appellant, but his argument is confined exclusively to the two questions of practice which we shall now briefly consider.

In the first place, a reversal is asked for the reason that only five of the heirs at law of John Peace were made plaintiffs in the action, while there were six interests represented, and the infants representing one-sixth interest were made defendants, and no reason given in the petition why this was done. While this was irregular, no objection having been made and no demurrer for this defect of parties having been filed in the court below, it cannot now be taken advantage of by appellant. A special demurrer is defined, and it is provided as follows, to wit: "A special demurrer is an objection to a pleading which shows that there is a defect of parties, plaintiff or defendant. Either of said grounds of objection, shown to exist by a pleading, is waived, unless distinctly specified by a demurrer thereto, except the objection to the jurisdiction of the court," etc. This defect appeared on the face of the petition. It was not made the ground of a demurrer, and although the court below, in its judgment, allows these infant defendants to participate with the plaintiffs in the recovery, it not being disputed that they are jointly interested in the estate with plaintiffs, we do not consider this irregularity sufficient to authorize a reversal of the judgment.

In the second place, it is insisted for appellant that the failure to controvert the affirmative allegations of her counterclaim entitled her to a judgment, without regard to what the commissioner may have reported as to the state of the accounts. It is true that appellant has made certain affirmative statements in her answer, and that she has called the same a "counterclaim," and that no reply was filed to that pleading. It seems to us, however, that the character of those affirmative allegations must be considered in order to ascertain whether or not they constitute a valid counterclaim, or are to be taken as true because they have not been controverted by a reply. An examination of the pleading in question shows that it contains general allegations that appellant's testator "paid out large sums of money for said Peace, which had never been paid back to him"; that he had paid large "costs and expenses in a lawsuit between said Peace and Jo Evans, for which he had no allowance"; that he employed attorneys in the suit, "and no allowance had ever been made to them or to him for them"; that he prosecuted that suit and other suits, and wound up the estate, and employed attorneys for that purpose, in which he spent a great deal of time and money, and will have to pay attorney's fees, "for which he has had no allowance, and on final settlement of all the accounts of said Prichard for the estate of said Peace, instead of his owing the heirs, said estate will be owing said Prichard's estate at least $_____." These are substantially the allegations of the pleadings which appellant terms a "counterclaim," and upon which it is insisted she was entitled to a judgment, because of the failure of appellees to controvert same by a reply. Can the pleading be given this effect, and can it properly be treated as a counterclaim? We think not. It will be seen that appellant not only fails to give the amount of any item alleged to have been paid out, or to file any voucher showing that the payments were properly made, but fails also to give any statement whatever as to the amount of assets that came to the hands of her testator. It does not charge that these alleged payments were made out of his individual funds, or that they were in excess of assets he had received from Peace's estate. It may be true that all these payments were made as charged, and that no allowance has been made to him on account thereof; and yet, for aught that appears, he may still have in his hands assets of said estate more than sufficient to cover all these outlays, as he has made no settlement of his accounts, and no statement is made in this pleading as to the amount of assets he received from the estate. It is true that this pleading alleges in conclusion that, on a final settlement, Peace's estate will be indebted to the estate of Prichard; but this is a mere conclusion of the pleader, and unsupported, as it is, by any facts or figures showing the state of the accounts,-the receipts and disbursements,-it is wholly insufficient to warrant a recovery. There is nothing in this pleading, as it seems to us, to entitle appellant to a judgment over against appellees, even though it is uncontroverted; and, though pleaded affirmatively, it is in legal effect no more than a general denial of liability. It is as though the defendant had simply said to the plaintiff: "I do not owe you; on a fair settlement, you owe me." That such allegations in an answer are wholly insufficient to constitute a valid counterclaim is too plain to require discussion, as it is the settled law of this state that a counterclaim is an action, and, to be properly pleaded, it must be set forth in the pleading with all the allegations necessary to uphold an original petition founded on the same cause of action. "But a pleading so to be treated as a counterclaim should not consist merely in facts constituting a defense, and pleaded as such, but it should present a cause of action in favor of the defendant, supported by every allegation necessary to uphold an original petition founded thereon." Applying this rule to the answer in this case, it clearly fails to constitute a valid counterclaim, and was properly treated as presenting matter of defense only, and not requiring to be controverted.

We perceive no error in the judgment of the court below, and it is therefore affirmed.

Ky.App. 1895.

PRICHARD'S EX'X v. PEACE et al.

32 S.W. 296, 17 Ky.L.Rptr. 662, 98 Ky. 99



     

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