VALLEY NAT. BANK OF PHOENIX
Gust, Rosenfeld, Divelbess, Robinette & Linton, of Phoenix, for appellant.
Carl G. Krook, of Kingman, for appellee.
Udall, Justice. La Prade, C. J., and Stanford, Phelps and De Concini, JJ., concurring.
[71 Ariz. 88] The Valley National Bank, defendant-appellant, is appealing from a judgment in the sum of $ 1173.75 rendered against it and in favor of Mary E. Carrow, plaintiff-appellee. The case was tried before the court sitting without a jury.
Stated in the light most favorable to a sustaining of the judgment, the facts giving rise to the instant suit are substantially as follows: defendant bank, upon being appointed by the Superior Court of Mohave County as administrator with the will annexed of the rather large estate of Edward M. Carrow, the deceased brother of plaintiff, was totally unfamiliar with the property holdings of decedent. Hence in order to secure aid in the preparation of a correct inventory of said estate, Victor H. Pulis, the bank's trust officer, contacted the plaintiff, who was then and for some 20 years prior thereto had been, the County Recorder of Mohave County, and requested that she prepare an abstract of the real and personal property holdings of the decedent. According to plaintiff's version of the matter, Pulis was advised that the regular work of the office kept plaintiff and her one deputy fully occupied during regular office hours, and it was agreed that plaintiff would prepare the abstracts as an individual working on her own time outside of office hours, and that the certificates to be attached thereto would be in her individual capacity, acknowledged before a notary public, and not in her official one as county recorder. Further evidence adduced by plaintiff was to the effect that in doing this work she had spent some 280 hours -- 40 days of seven hours each -- and that the reasonable value thereof was $ 30 per day, making a total of $ 1200 due her (It was even suggested by plaintiff that $ 1800 for the services would not have been out of line.); that she had [71 Ariz. 89] magnanimously reduced the bill by $ 26.25 thus: "* * * giving them the best of it. I was very good to them. I cut that down. I cut that down some. I am not trying to hold them up. I could have."
None of plaintiff's three corroborating witnesses, who were more or less experienced in title matters, attempted to evaluate or put a price upon the seven abstracts admitted in evidence, but all did testify that at least $ 30 per day was a reasonable and customary charge for an experienced title man.
Defendant bank is being sued in its corporate capacity rather than as the administrator of the decedent's estate for the reason that it elected to have the court close the estate before the amount of this expense of administration had been judicially determined. In the probate proceedings an arbitrary sum of $ 250 was set aside to meet this expense and at the trial of the instant cause the bank stipulated that if
any judgment was rendered for plaintiff the bank would pay it, regardless of whether it would be able to charge all of same to the decedent's estate.
The issues raised by the pleadings and tried in the lower court were (a) whether plaintiff performed the services as county recorder or in her individual capacity, and (b) the reasonable value of the services rendered. In rendering judgment for plaintiff for the full amount sued for the trial court, as the trier of fact, resolved those issues in favor of plaintiff. This appeal ...