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Newman v. Bost

Supreme Court of North Carolina
29 S.E. 848 (1898)


Van Pelt died intestate with no children. In his final months, bedridden, he summoned Julia Newman (plaintiff), his housekeeper of ten years, to his beside. Van Pelt handed Newman a set of keys, and proclaimed that he wanted her to have everything in his house, including a locked bureau (the key to which was on the key chain he handed her). The bureau contained a life insurance policy worth $3,000. Upon Van Pelt’s death, Bost (defendant), the administrator of Van Pelt’s estate, took possession of everything in the house on behalf of the estate: he collected the $3,000 insurance payout; he received an insurance payout of $300 for a piano that was destroyed; he sold most of the personal property in the house; and sold some personal property located in Newman’s room. Newman sued, claiming that the property belonged to her as a gift from Van Pelt and that Bost had inappropriately taken them. A jury found for Newman. Bost appealed.

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Holding and Reasoning (Coble, J.)

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