Foman v. Davis

LOCATION: Clauson's Inn

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962-1965)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

CITATION: 371 US 178 (1962)
ARGUED: Nov 14, 1962
DECIDED: Dec 03, 1962

Facts of the case


Media for Foman v. Davis

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 14, 1962 in Foman v. Davis

Earl Warren:

Number 41, Lenore Foman, Petitioner, versus Elvira A. Davis, Executrix.

Mr. Bordwin.

Milton Bordwin:

Mr. Chief Justice Warren, Your Honors and may it please the Court.

This case is here on a writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit having arisen on the District Court before the District of Massachusetts.

The case is here on a writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit having arisen in the District Court before the District of Massachusetts on diversity of citizenship jurisdiction.

Thank you.

The case has never gone beyond the pleading stage.

The District Court dismissed the action on the ground that the complaint failed to state a claim for which relief could be granted.

The plaintiff filed a motion to amend her complaint and the District Court without opinion denied the motion.

In the Court of Appeals, the adequacy of the complaint was not tested, the Court holding that the appeal from the judgment dismissing the action had not properly been taken and the Court of Appeals dismissed that portion of the appeal which related to the judgment of dismissal.

Insofar as the District Court's denial of plaintiff's motion to amend her complaint, the Court of Appeals said, “There are no facts that appear to us that would indicate an abuse of discretion”, that is the considerations before the District Court are not before us and they affirmed those orders.

This case raises some very basic questions in the area of Federal Civil Procedure and the issues and our arguments will appear in a full statement of the facts.

This is a case brought against a decedent's state.

The plaintiff is the daughter of the decedent and she alleges in her complaint the following.

For some years prior to 1947, the plaintiff's wife, decedent's mother, was confined to a sanatorium for mental and other disorders.

In 1947, the decedent requested of the plaintiff, his daughter that she take over responsibility for the care and support of her mother.

And in 1947, the complaint alleges, the parties orally agreed that the plaintiff would take care of her mother, incur all the liabilities and costs for her support and maintenance and orally, the decedent promised that he would neither make nor leave a will to the end that his daughter as his only child would take her intestate share of his estate under the Intestacy Laws of Massachusetts.

The complaint continues alleging full performance by the plaintiff of her part of the agreement.

She paid all the costs of her mother's care and support in the sanatorium.

In 1951, when it became impossible or impracticable for the sanatorium to care for her mother any longer, she took her mother into her own home and there cared for her until the date of her death in 1953, some six years after the alleged oral agreement.

In 1957, the decedent remarried, and in that year made a will in which he bequeathed his entire estate except for a $5000 legacy to a brother, to his wife Elvira A. Davis, the individual named as executrix in this action.

Some two years after the marriage, the decedent died.

The complaint concludes with a prayer for judgment in that amount which would equal the amount to which the plaintiff would have been entitled to, had the decedent died without making a will as allegedly promise.

What is that amount?

Milton Bordwin:

That amount is two-thirds of his estate which turned out to be $60,000 or $40,000.

Her share with the $40,000 (Voice Overlap) --

Milton Bordwin:

Her share with the $40,000.

-- agreement.

Milton Bordwin:

Yes sir.

In due course, the defendant filed an answer in the motion to dismiss the complaint on the ground that it failed to state a claim for which relief could be granted.