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Beddow v. Beddow

December 19, 1952

BEDDOW ET AL.
v.
BEDDOW. BEDDOW V. BEDDOW ET AL.



Duncan

DUNCAN, Justice. By a proceeding in the Boyle Circuit Court, a judgment of insanity was rendered against Robert L. Beddow on January 18, 1950. Three days thereafter, Citizens National Bank of Danville, Kentucky, was appointed and qualified as Committee. Upon its appointment, the Committee took possession of Beddow's rather substantial estate.

On January 30, 1950, Beddow, then sixty-six years of age, was married to Josephine Epperson, then thirty-three years of age, in a ceremony performed in Columbus, Mississippi. At the time of the marriage, both contracting parties were residents of Boyle County, Kentucky, and had gone to Mississippi only for the purpose of marriage. On the day following the ceremony, they returned to the State and county of their residence.

On March 18, 1950, Citizens National Bank as Committee sued to have the marriage set aside. The principal contentions were that Beddow had been adjudged insane prior to his marriage and was, in fact, insane at the time of the marriage. Special and general demurrers were overruled, and on October 10, 1950, Josephine filed her answer. Therein, after denial of the material allegations of the petition, it was alleged that the judgment of insanity was 'null, void, and of no effect.' The validity of the marriage was asserted. Prior to the filing of the answer, Beddow and Josephine had filed a separate and independent action in the same court on July 27, 1950, which was a direct attack upon the judgment of insanity, and as a necessary concomitant, an attack upon the order appointing Citizens National Bank as Committee.

By agreement, the action of the Committee and the action of the Beddows were consolidated. The court, after hearing proof, entered a judgment on September 10, 1951, setting aside the judgment of insanity because some of the statutory steps necessary to that proceeding were not taken. Necessarily, the order appointing the Committee was set aside and the Committee was ordered to account for the Beddow property. These judgments were entered after the death of Beddow, which occurred on June 14, 1951.

On June 30, 1951, a new and separate action was begun by Thomas Beddow, brother and one of the heirs at law of Robert L. Beddow. This was an action for a declaration of rights wherein the plaintiff sought to have the Beddow marriage declared void. The petition, as frequently amended, charged that Robert L. Beddow at the time of his marriage was an idiot and a lunatic. It may be remarked parenthetically that the terms 'idiot' and 'lunatic' are not synonymous, but the distinction is not material here. A general demurrer was sustained to the petition as amended. Thomas Beddow refused to plead further, and the petition was dismissed. This and the previous actions are here on appeal and have been consolidated in this Court.

It will not be necessary to extend this opinion by a discussion of the judgment which sets aside the judgment of insanity. An examination of that record indicates that several of the statutory steps were not taken, any one of which would have rendered the proceeding void. The court properly set aside the judgment of insanity, and the judgment in the case of Citizens National Bank as Committee v. Josephine Epperson Beddow is affirmed.

In the action of Thomas Beddow v. Josephine Epperson Beddow, when considering the propriety of the order sustaining the demurrer, we must assume the truth of all facts properly plead in the petition. For the purpose of this appeal, we shall, therefore, consider as true the following facts:

(1) Robert L. Beddow and Josephine Epperson Beddow were residents of this State.

(2) These parties were united in marriage in a ceremony performed on January 30, 1950, in the State of Mississippi.

(3) Robert L. Beddow, at the time of his marriage was either an idiot or a lunatic.

Marriage with an idiot or lunatic is prohibited and void under the laws of Kentucky. KRS 402.020 provides that:

'Marriage is prohibited and void:

'(1) With an idiot or lunatic;

'(2) Between a white person and a Negro ...


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