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Costell v. First National Bank of Mobile

274 Ala. 606 (1963)

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Costell v. First National Bank of Mobile

Alabama Supreme Court

274 Ala. 606 (1963)

Facts

Margaret Cox distrusted banks and hid significant amounts of money in her home. When Cox died, several of her heirs, an attorney, and the attorney’s secretary Irene Hurley (defendant) searched the home for the hidden money. Approximately $11,800 in gold coins were found, but no other money was reported to be found. At that time, Hurley was earning $18 per week, wore inexpensive clothes, and needed significant repairs on her home. After the search of Cox’s house, Hurley moved into a new home, began to flash diamond rings, wore expensive clothes, and had three vehicles. Hurley stated that a rich uncle, W.C. Lantron, had purchased the new home for her. Cox’s heirs (plaintiffs) hired a private detective to look into the missing money. The private detective determined that W.C. Lantron was far from wealthy and had purchased the new home with cash from Hurley. Cox’s heirs sued Hurley, seeking a constructive trust on the property purchased with the stolen money. The trial court agreed and imposed a constructive trust. Hurley appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Merrill, J.)

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