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Martin v. Wood

Supreme Court of Arizona

April 9, 1951

MARTIN
v.
WOOD et al

Judgment affirmed.

Wilson & Wilson, Kent A. Blake, all of Phoenix, for appellant.

Marshall W. Haislip, of Phoenix, for appellee.

De Concini, Justice. Udall, C. J., and Stanford, Phelps and La Prade, JJ., concur.

OPINION

De Concini, Justice.

Page 711

[71 Ariz. 458] This action was brought by the Phoenix Savings Bank and Trust Company, plaintiff below, as guardian of Ida Grant, an incompetent, against Mollie J. Martin, defendant below and hereinafter referred to as appellant, to cancel a deed executed on the 9th day of February, 1948, by Ida Grant to Mollie J. Martin; and to have the property revested in the grantor on the ground of her incompetency at that time. Pending trial in the lower court Gussie Wood was substituted as guardian of the estate of Ida Grant, and will be hereinafter designated as appellee.

The facts out of which this suit arose are that in 1937 appellee and her husband rented a house from Ida Grant which is situated on the land which is the subject of the deed in question. In 1940 Ida Grant commenced living with the Martins in that house. On February 9, 1948, Ida Grant executed to appellee a deed to the land and house thereon, at that time Ida Grant being a widow some eighty years of age. Subsequently appellant did, on June 30, 1948, file a guardianship petition in the superior court of the county of Maricopa urging "That for the past two (2) years the said Ida Grant, by reason of old age, has been mentally incompetent to manage her own affairs. That she has not known the nature and extent of her property or the material objects of her bounty," and prayed that a guardian be appointed so she could reconvey the property to Ida Grant. On July 14, 1948, appellee appeared before the above court in the guardianship proceedings of Ida Grant and under oath testified to the truth of the matters alleged in said petition. On that day Ida Grant was adjudicated to be an incompetent and 2 days later letters of guardianship were issued to the Phoenix Savings Bank and Trust Company.

The pleadings and the evidence disclose that in the lower court appellant denied that Ida Grant was incompetent at the time she executed the deed, and alleged [71 Ariz. 459] that at said time Ida Grant was fully competent to manage her own affairs. The lower court, sitting without a jury, ruled that the deed was void by reason of the incompetency of the grantor, Ida Grant, and set it aside.

Appellant assigns eight errors to the trial court which may be summarized as follows: (a) insufficiency of the evidence to support the judgment; (b) the admission of incompetent, irrelevant and immaterial evidence. Those assignments have been considered but are without merit. Furthermore it will not be necessary to treat them because the case may be disposed of under the doctrine of judicial estoppel.

Under the doctrine of judicial estoppel or "estoppel by oath" appellant was estopped from claiming under said deed and from disputing the allegations in her petition for appointment of guardian for Ida Grant and her testimony in the guardianship proceeding in support of said petition.

The general rule of judicial estoppel is stated in 19 Am.Jur., Estoppel, Sec. 74, p. 712: "It is a general rule that a party is bound by his judicial declarations and may not contradict them in ...


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