This section is from the book "The Law Of Contracts", by William Herbert Page. Also available from Amazon: Commercial Contracts: A Practical Guide to Deals, Contracts, Agreements and Promises.
If A, a person of full legal capacity, pays money to B with the intent that it should become B's property, and no operative facts such as mistake, misrepresentation, fraud, non-disclosure, duress, or undue influence exist, which might make the transaction voidable, A cannot recover such payment from B. Another and more common form of stating the same principle is that a voluntary payment made with full knowledge of the facts cannot be recovered.1 The same principle applies where
23 Worth v. Stewart, 122 N. C. 258; 29 S. E. 579.
24 Taylor v. Daviess County (Ky.), 32 S. W. 416.
25 Weybridge School District v. Bridgeport, 63 Vt. 383; 22 Atl. 570. 570.
26 Painter v. Polk County, 81 la. 242; 25 Am. St. Rep. 489; 47 N. W. 65. A similar view seems to be guardedly entertained in Lasalle County v. Milligan, 34 111. App. 346, decided partly on a question of fact and partly with the expectation of review by the Supreme Court.
1 United States v. Edmondston, 181 U. S. 500; Little v. Bowers. 134 U. S. 547; The Agathe, 71 Fed.
528; The nicanor, 40 Fed. 361; Prichard v. Sweeney, 109 Ala. 651; 19 So. 730; Crenshaw v. Collier. 70 Ark. 5; 65 S. W. 709; Harralson v. Barrett, 99 Cal. 607; 34 Pac. 342; Bucknall v. Story, 46 Cal. 589; 13 Am. Rep. 220; Skelly v. Bank, 63 Conn. 83; 38 Am. St. Rep. 340; 19 L. R. A. 599; 26 Atl. 474; Jefferson County v. Hawkins, 23 Fla. 223; 2 So. 362; Macon County v. Foster, 23 N. E. 615; Burlock v. Cook, 20 111. App. 154; Connecticut, etc., Ins. Co. v. Stewart, 95 Ind. 588; Manning v. Poling, 114 la. 20; 83 N. W. 895; 86 N. W. 30; Bailey v. Paullina, 69 la. 463; 29 N. W. 418; Cumming Harvester Co. v. Sigerson, money is paid by X to B for A, and in A's presence.2 The fact that a formal protest is made when the payment is made does not prevent it from being voluntary.3 If A, with full knowledge of all the facts, pays excessive assessments to an insurance company, he cannot recover such assessments.4 An insurance company which pays the amount of insurance after loss with full knowledge of all the material facts, cannot recover the money thus paid, as on the ground that the loss was on property not covered by the policy;5 nor can they maintain an action against a vessel on which the cargo insured was carried, for damages, on the theory that the loss was due to the negligence of those in charge, after paying the amount apportioned as the insurance company's share due for salvage.6 A was a stockholder in a corporation which was about to increase its capital stock, and had a legal right to subscribe for a certain amount of such new stock at par. The corporation refused to receive his subscription unless he paid a bonus for the right to subscribe. It was held that he could not recover the amount thus paid in, since he had an adequate remedy.7 He could have tendered the true value of the stock, and on refusal of the corporation to deliver the stock to him, he could maintain the action against the corporation for the difference between the par value and the market value of such stock. Where the statute provides for arbitration to estimate the value of improvements made upon realty, to be paid for by one who is redeeming the land from an execution sale, the voluntary payment of an excessive amount of improvements by such redemptioner without arbitration, cannot be recovered.8 If a wife pays a debt of her husband's after his death out of money which she receives on an insurance policy on his life, payable to her, she cannot recover such payment.9 An inmate of a Soldiers' and Sailors' Home, who agrees to pay over a part of his pension to such home, and does pay it over, cannot subsequently recover, though the Home could not have compelled such payment.10' A owes B a note on which the interest is payable in advance, and A pays such interest in advance; and subsequently A voluntarily pays the note before maturity. A cannot recover the proportionate part of such interest paid by him.11 So where B has executed a mortgage which contains a provision that the mortgagor shall pay the tax on the mortgage debt, and under the law he is thereby relieved from liability to pay interest upon such mortgage debt he cannot recover the amount of interest from the mortgagee after paying it voluntarily.12 If taxes unlawfully assessed are paid with full knowledge of the facts, and without duress, or legal compulsion, the money thus paid cannot be recovered,13 unless there is a statutory provision therefor.14 If a public officer voluntarily pays over to the public treasurer, fees which he has a legal right to retain for his personal benefit, he can not recover such payments.15 If A is the agent of B to sell stock, and A as such agent makes a sale to X, and takes the check of X in payment, and sends B his personal check, A cannot recover from B, although the check which A receives from X proves to be worthless.16
63 Kan. 340; 65 Pac. 639; Williams v. Shelbourne, 102 Ivy. 579; 44 S. W. 110; Tyler v. Smith, 18 B. Mon. (Ky.) 793; New Orleans, etc., Co. v. Improvement Co., 109 La. 13; 94 Am. St. Rep. 395; 33 So. 51; Regan v. Baldwin, 126 Mass. 485; 30 Am. Rep. 689; Francis v. Hurd, 113 Mich. 250; 71 N. W. 582; Tompkins v. Hollister, 60 Mich. 485; 34 N. W. 551; Carson v. Cochran, 52 Minn. 67; 53 N. W. 1130; Morley v. Carlson, 27 Mo. App. 5; Nebraska, etc., Ins. Co. v. Segard, 29 Neb. 354; 45 N. W. 681; Redmond v. New York, 125 N. Y. 632; 26 N. E. 727; Flynn v. Hurd, 118 N. Y. 19; 22 N. E. 1109; Howard v. Life Association, 125 N. C. 49; 45 L. R. A. 853; 34 S. E. 199; Brumbaugh v. Chapman, 45 O. S. 368; 13 N. E. 584; Oil Well Supply Co. v. Bank, 131 Pa. St. 100; 18 Atl. 935; Hubbard v. Martin, 8 Yerg. (Tenn.) 498; Ladd v. Mfg. Co., 53 Tex. 172; Gibson v. Bingham, 43 Vt. 410; 5 Am. Rep. 289; Beard v. Beard, 25 W. Va. 486; 52 Am. Rep. 219; Gage v. Allen, 89 Wis. 98; 61 N. W. 361. "The ultimate fact to be reached in this case is the state of mind under which the payments were made. If they were made voluntarily, with a full knowledge of all the facts and without fraud or imposition, they are beyond reclamation. If, on the other hand, the money was extorted from the appellee ... or if fraud or imposition was practiced upon him, he is entitled to recover his money back for the plain reason that the payment was involuntary." Ligonier (Town of) v. Ackerman, 46 Ind. 552, 558; 15 Am. Rep. 323; quoted, Hollings-worth v. Stone, 90 Ind. 244.
2 Rogers v. Garland, 8 Mac-key (D. C.) 24.
3 Little v. Bowers, 134 U. S. 547; McMillan v. Richards, 9 Cal. 365; 70 Am. Dec. 655; Patterson v. Cox, 25 Ind. 261; Anderson v. Cameron, - la.- ; 97 N. W. 1085; (Commissioners of) Wabaunsee County v. Walker, 8 Kan. 431; Detroit v. Martin, 34 Mich. 170; 22 Am. Rep. 512; McBride v. Lathrop, 24 Neb. 93; 38 N. W. 32; Wessel v. Mortgage Co., 3 N. D. 160; 44 Am. St. Rep. 529; 54 N. W. 922; Marietta v. Slocomb, 6 O. S. 471; De La Cuesta v. Ins. Co., 136 Pa. St. 62, 658; 9 L. R. A. 631; 20 Atl. 505.
4 Howard v. Ins. Association, 125 N. C. 49; 45 L. R. A. 853; 34 S. E. 199.
5 Nebraska, etc., Ins. Co. v. Segard, 29 Neb. 354; 45 N. W. 681.
6 The Nicanor, 40 Fed. 361.
7 De La Cuesta v. Ins. Co., 136 Pa. St. 62, 658; 9 L. R. A. 631; 20 Atl. 505.
8 Prichard v. Sweeney, 109 Ala. 651; 19 So. 730.
9 Tompkins v. Hollister, 60 Mich. 485; 34 N. W. 551.
10 Brooks v. Hastings, 192 Pa. St. 378; 43 Atl. 1075; Bryson v. Home, etc., 168 Pa. St. 352; 31 Atl. 1008.
11 Skelly v. Bank, 63 Conn. 83; 38 Am. St. Rep. 340; 19 L. R. A. 599; 26 Atl. 474.