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Snell v. Stickler

Supreme Court of Idaho
May 14, 1931
299 P. 1080 (Idaho 1931)


No. 5657.

May 14, 1931.

APPEAL from the District Court of the Seventh Judicial District, for Canyon County. Hon. Ed. L. Bryan, Judge.

Action to quiet title. Judgment for plaintiffs. Affirmed.

Rhodes Estabrook, for Appellants.

The evidence is undisputed that the original property was given to Mrs. Stickler and that she always considered it as hers and likewise did Stickler; and, as between them there can be no question but that Mrs. Stickler could rightfully claim the property as her own, and the same rule applies to one who is not an innocent purchaser for value and without notice. ( Peck v. Brummagim, 31 Cal. 440, 89 Am. Dec. 195.)

S. Ben Dunlap, for Respondents.

This court has held in a long list of cases that all property acquired by either spouse during coverture is presumed to be community property, and the burden of proof rests upon the party who asserts it to be separate property to show such fact by a preponderance of the evidence. ( Clifford v. Lake, 33 Idaho 77, 190 P. 714; Chaney v. Gauld Co., 28 Idaho 76, 152 Pac. 468; Vaughan v. Hollingsworth, 35 Idaho 722, 208 P. 838; Ahlstrom v. Tage, 31 Idaho 459, 174 P. 605; Oylear v. Oylear, 35 Idaho 732, 208 P. 857.)

Respondents, purchasers at execution sale of certain property, levied on and sold as the community property of appellants, having received a sheriff's deed thereto, sued herein to quiet title against appellants who contend that the property is the separate property of Mrs. Stickler, acquired by her through various trades and transfers by reason of a gift of property originally made to Mrs. Stickler by Mr. Stickler's brother, a number of years prior.

The court found in favor of respondents, evidently on the theory that the gift was to the community, and not to Mrs. Stickler as her sole and separate estate, though he may with propriety have questioned the sufficiency of the tracing of the transmutations of the property.

In a suit to quiet title, each party must recover on the strength of his own title ( Wing v. Wallace, 42 Idaho 430, 246 Pac. 8; Steinour v. Oakley State Bank, 45 Idaho 472, 262 Pac. 1052), and every conveyance to a married woman is presumed to be to the community ( Moore v. Croft, 47 Idaho 568, 277 Pac. 425), the burden of proof therefore rested on appellants to prove a gift solely to Mrs. Stickler. ( McMillan v. United States Fire Ins. Co., 48 Idaho 163, 280 P. 220.)

The only testimony touching directly upon the question of the gift was presented by Mr. and Mrs. Stickler, and while we would not say that the evidence would not support findings and conclusions that a gift as contended by Mrs. Stickler, had been made, to reverse this judgment would require that we substitute our judgment as to what conclusions should be drawn, from a cold record, for the conclusions of the trial judge, made from the same testimony, coupled with the presence of the live witnesses, noting their actions, demeanor, candor and apparent truthfulness.

There were no rights of creditors involved at the time of the transfer to Mrs. Stickler of the property in question. There was no recital in the deed that it was to be the sole property of Mrs. Stickler. ( Bear Lake State Bank v. Wilcox, 48 Idaho 147, 279 P. 1090.) The determination of what the transaction really was, was a question of fact to be determined by the court. ( Bank of Orofino v. Wellman, 26 Idaho 425, 143 Pac. 1169.)

This class of cases is difficult of decision, but it would only add to the difficulty for us to attempt to substitute our judgment for that of the trial court.

There was no direct, positive and unequivocal testimony that Mrs. Stickler's brother-in-law gave her the property or money to buy it in Montana; the substance of the testimony was that he "helped to buy it," and it was to be a "home for her and her children," as consistent with a loan as a gift, and there are sufficient facts and circumstances in the record to justify his conclusions, which situation requires an affirmance. ( Coleman v. Jaggers, 12 Idaho 125, 118 Am. St. 207, 85 P. 894; Dearing v. Hockersmith, 25 Idaho 140, 136 P. 994; Wolf v. Eagleson, 29 Idaho 177, 157 P. 1122; McKeehan v. Vollmer-Clearwater Co., 30 Idaho 505, Ann. Cas. 1918E, 1197, 166 Pac. 256; Wheaton v. Bradshaw, 44 Idaho 129, 255 P. 409; Bear Lake State Bank v. Wilcox, supra.)

Judgment affirmed. Costs to respondents.

Budge, Varian and McNaughton, JJ., and Babcock, D. J., concur.

Petition for rehearing denied.

Summaries of

Snell v. Stickler

Supreme Court of Idaho
May 14, 1931
299 P. 1080 (Idaho 1931)
Case details for

Snell v. Stickler

Case Details


Court:Supreme Court of Idaho

Date published: May 14, 1931


299 P. 1080 (Idaho 1931)
299 P. 1080

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