Polson v. Stewart

167 Mass. 211, 45 N.E. 737, 36 A.L.R. 771, 57 Am. St. Rep. 452 (1897)

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Polson v. Stewart

Massachusetts Supreme Court
167 Mass. 211, 45 N.E. 737, 36 A.L.R. 771, 57 Am. St. Rep. 452 (1897)

Facts

Mr. Stewart (defendant) executed a covenant to his wife, Kitty T.P. Stewart, that in consideration of her agreement not to sue for divorce and release her dower in Mr. Stewart’s lands, Mr. Stewart would not interfere with Kitty’s enjoyment of the couple’s realty in Massachusetts, that Mr. Stewart would release his rights in the Massachusetts property if she conveyed it, and that upon her death, Mr. Stewart would do whatever was necessary to clear the title to the Massachusetts realty. The covenant was entered into while the Stewarts were domiciled in North Carolina, and North Carolina gave Kitty the right to contract as a feme sole (a woman without a husband) with her husband and others. Upon Kitty’s death, her brother, Polson (plaintiff), was appointed administrator of her estate, and he sued Mr. Stewart in Massachusetts state court for specific performance of the covenant. Mr. Stewart demurred and argued the covenant called for an illegal conveyance of land in Massachusetts. The trial court ruled for Mr. Stewart, and Polson appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Holmes, J.)

Dissent (Field, C.J.)

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