145 Pa. 456



Argued October 9, 1891

Decided November 9, 1891.

1. Where a claim against the estate of a decedent is contested before an auditor, and no issue is demanded, the findings of fact thereon, approved by the court below, will not be questioned, unless the evidence submitted was insufficient fairly to sustain the findings.

2. It is not a ground of reversal, that an auditor, in the Orphans’ Court, ruling on offers of evidence, has received incompetent testimony, unless it also appears that he was influenced by it, or that it might and ought to have led to a different conclusion.

*457Before Paxson, C. J., Sterrett, Green, Clark, Williams, McCollum and Mitchell, JJ.

No. 129 October Term 1891, Sup. Ct.; court below, No. 18 March Term 1891, O. C.

On January 24,1890, George J. Harbison, executor of the will of Rebecca J. Harbison, deceased, filed his account, showing a balance due the estate; and on March 17th, the account being confirmed, Mr. J. F. Feed was appointed auditor to distribute said balance to the persons entitled thereto.

On February 9, 1891, the auditor filed a report showing that Rebecca J. Harbison died on April 30,1889 ; that, among other claims against the estate, John W. Harbison, her son, presented for allowance and payment a note purporting to be signed by the decedent, for $1,400, dated January 3, 1889, and payable ninety days after the death of the maker; that objection was made to the allowance and payment of said note, and that after hearing the testimony offered on the part of the claimant and on behalf of the estate, the auditor found as a fact that the signature to the note in controversy was not the genuine signature of the decedent. He therefore disallowed the claim, and reported a distribution accordingly.

To the auditor’s report the claimant filed a large number of exceptions, chiefly alleging error in the rulings of the auditor on offers of testimony admitted or rejected. Said exceptions having been argued, the court, Wickham, P. J., on April 6, 1891, dismissed the exceptions and confirmed the report absolutely. Thereupon, the claimant took this appeal, specifying that the court erred:

I. In dismissing the several exceptions filed.

7. In not deciding incompetent the testimony of certain witnesses named, called on behalf of the estate.

8. In not deciding that John W. Harbison, the claimant, was a competent witness for all purposes. *

II. In confirming the auditor’s report.

*458Mr. L. JE. Grim (with him Mr. D. S. JSfaugle), for the appellant.

As to the effect of an auditor’s report finding facts against the weight of the evidence, or disregarding the evidence, counsel cited: Miller’s App., 102 Pa. 544; Milligan’s App., 97 Pa. 531; Cake’s App., 110 Pa. 65; Hindman’s App., 85 Pa. 466; Phillips’s App., 68 Pa. 130; Moyer’s App., 77 Pa. 482.

Mr. A. S. Moore, Mr. W. 8. Moore and Mr. John M. Buchanan, for the appellees, were not heard.

Per Curiam:

The appellant is the son of Rebecca J. Harbison, deceased, whose estate was before the Orphans’ Court for distribution. He presented before the auditor a note purporting to be signed by his mother for one thousand four hundred dollars, dated January 3, 1889, payable to his own order, ninety days after the death of the maker. The allowance of this claim was resisted on behalf of the estate upon the ground that the note was a forgery. The auditor found that it was a forgery, in which he was sustained by the court below.

The appellant did not demand an issue, but submitted this question of fact to the auditor. As he has made his bed, so must he lie, unless there was not evidence sufficient to submit, and to fairly sustain the auditor’s finding. Of this the appellant has failed to satisfy us. There was ample to justify the conclusion arrived at by the auditor. It was urged, however, that he admitted certain incompetent testimony, and that the decree should be reversed for this reason. It is not a ground of reversal that an auditor in the Orphans’ Court has received incompetent testimony, unless it also appears that he was influenced by it, or that it might and ought to have led to a different result. If we throw out of the case all the testimony alleged to be incompetent, there is abundance left to sustain the auditor’s findings. It is not needed, therefore, that we discuss the seventh and eighth specifications, which allege error in the rulings of the auditor and the court below on the admission of evidence.

The decree is affirmed, and the appeal dismissed at the costs of the appellant.

Estate of Harbison
145 Pa. 456

Case Details

Estate of Harbison
Decision Date
Nov 9, 1891

145 Pa. 456




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