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Braun v. Brown

California Supreme Court
94 P.2d 348 (1939)


Facts

Julius Schmidt had a stroke when he was 67, and he was confined to a hospital room thereafter. In the presence of his brother-in-law, Bernard Assmann, Schmidt handed Teresa Braun (plaintiff) the key to Schmidt’s safe-deposit box and said: “Teresa, everything in the box belongs to you.” Schmidt told Braun that she would not have to work anymore given the contents of the box, which included Schmidt’s significant assets. Braun had been a longtime companion of Schmidt’s. Schmidt had proposed marriage to Braun on multiple occasions and offered her jewelry and a car, all of which Braun declined to accept. On this occasion, however, Braun accepted the key. Schmidt died three weeks later. Braun attempted to retrieve the box, but the bank would not permit her to do so. At this point, Braun gave the key to Ben Brown, the administrator of Schmidt’s estate (defendant). Brown declined to accept Braun’s claim to the contents of the safe-deposit box. As a result, Braun sued Brown seeking an order that Schmidt handing her the key constituted a gift causa mortis. The trial court ruled in favor of Braun. Brown appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Pullen, J.)

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