Allen v. Massey/Opinion of the Court

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Opinion of the Court

United States Supreme Court

84 U.S. 351

Allen  v.  Massey

The sale was, within the terms of the statute, fraudulent and void as against Downing's creditors. It was not accompanied by any delivery of the property, and was not followed by any change of possession. The property consisted of furniture used in a house occupied jointly by Downing and his vendee and her husband, and it remained in the same condition, and was used by all three precisely in the same manner after the sale as previously. There was no outward sign manifested, nor indicia exhibited, nor notice given, which could apprise the community of any change of ownership. The object of the statute is to prevent parties from being misled by apparent ownership of property where real ownership does not exist, but where a secret transfer has been made to another. This object would be defeated if a sale like the present one could be upheld. In the case of Claflin v. Rosenberg, [3] where the vendor had become the clerk of the purchaser, the Supreme Court of Missouri held that the possession which the purchaser was required to take of the property sold, in order to render the sale valid under the statute, must be open, notorious, and unequivocal, such as would inform the public, or those who were accustomed to deal with the party, that the property had changed hands, and that the title had passed from the vendor to the purchaser; observing at the same time that possession of this kind excluded the idea of a joint or concurrent possession with the vendor. The statute being a local one, applying only to sales in Missouri, this court will follow the construction given to it by the highest court of the State.

The assignee of Downing's estate was authorized, by the express terms of the fourteenth section of the Bankrupt Act, to pursue the property thus attempted to be transferred, and, as auxiliary to its recovery, to ask that the sale of the bankrupt be annulled.



^3  42 Missouri, 439.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).