"As far as we are aware, this is the first case in which it has been broadly contended that the executed contracts of a lunatic must be dealt with as absolutely void, however entered into, and although perfectly fair, bond fide, reasonable, and without notice, on the part of those who have dealt with the lunatic.
"On looking into the cases at law, we find that, in Brown v. Jodrell, Lord Tenterden says, 'I think the defence (of unsoundness of mind) will not avail, unless it be shown that the plaintiff imposed on the defendant.' In Baxter v. The Earl of Portsmouth, 5 B. & C. (ll E. C. L. R.) 170 (the Nisi Prius authority of which is in 2 C. & P. (12 E. C. L. R.) 178), Abbot C. J., with the concurrence of the rest of the Court, laid down the same doctrine. In Dane v. Viscountess Kirkwall, Mr. Justice Patteson, in directing the jury, said, 'It is not sufficient that Lady Kirkwall was of unsound mind, but you must be satisfied that the plaintiff knew it and took advantage of it.'
"We are not disposed to lay down so general a proposition, as that all executed contracts bond fide entered into must be taken as valid, though one of the parties be of unsound mind; we think, however, that we may safely conclude, that when a person, apparently of sound mind, and not known to be otherwise, enters into a contract for the purchase of property, which is fair and bond fide, and which is executed and completed, and the property, the subject-matter of the contract, has been paid for and fully enjoyed, and cannot be restored so as to put the parties in statu quo, such contract cannot afterwards be set aside, either by the alleged lunatic, or those who represent him. And this is the present case, for it is the purchase of an annuity which has ceased." This judgment was subsequently affirmed on error in the Exchequer ( hamber, 4 Exch. 18.
The same principle was adopted in Pennsylvania, in Beals v. See. 10 Pa St. 60 (following La Rue v. Gilkyson, 4 lb. 375), where it was held that the administrator of a lunatic could not, in the absence of fraud or knowledge of his state of mind, or such conduct on the part of the lunatic from which his disease might fairly be inferred or suspected, recover back the price of merchandise sold to him, even though it was unsuited to the object for which it was purchased, and above market price.
In Massachusetts, however, in the case of Seaver v. Phelps, 11 Pick. 304, which was trover for a promissory note, pledged by the plaintiff while insane, to the defendant, the Court were, on behalf of the latter, requested to charge, that although the plaintiff might have been insane at the time of making the contract, yet that if the defendant were not apprised of that fact, or had no reason, from the conduct of the plaintiff or from any other source 380 was held entitled to a decree of foreclosure (h). It seems equally clear that he is not liable when the other to suspect it, and did not overreach or impose upon him, or practice any fraud or unfairness, the contract could not be annulled; but the Court refused so to charge, and the jury having found for the plaintiff, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment on the authority of Thompson v. Leach, 3 Mod. 310, and regarded the law on the subject of contracts, made by lunatics, as being on the same footing as those of an infant; and it was said that the case of Baxter v. The Earl of Portsmouth, supra, was, notwithstanding the dicta in the case, decided mainly on the ground of the carriages being suitable to the defendant's condition in life, and the opinion of Lord Tenterden, in Brown v. Jodrell, supra, as to the materiality of the absence of imposition, was disapproved. It may be remarked, however, that Thompson v. Leach is not an authority for such a point, further than that, "the grants of infants, and of persons non compos mentis, are parallel both in law and reason," and this is a well-settled rule of the law of real estate, the grants of both being voidable: F. N B. 202 n; Mitchell v. Kingman, 5 Pick. 431; Allis v. Billings, 6 Mete. 419 (see the termination of the case in 2 Cush. 19, by which it appears that the party was, at times at least, only feigning insanity): Fitzgerald v. Reed, 9 Sm. & M. 102. The recent case of Hallett v. Oakes, 1 Cush. 296, was an action to recover the value of professional services in a habeas corpus to procure the liberation of one who was insane and remanded as such, and a recovery was allowed on the ground of such services being classed with necessaries, and having been rendered by the plaintiff in good faith, and on due inquiry into the grounds and causes of the confinement.-b.
(h) Campbell v. Hooper, 24 L. J. (Ch.) 644. See also Drew v. Nunn, 4 Q. B. D. 60 ; 48 L. J. (Q. B.) 591, a case cited more fully post, at the end of this Lecture.
Where a person apparently of sound mind and not known to be otherwise, fairly and bond fide purchases property, and receives and uses the same, payment cannot be refused either by the alleged lunatic or his representatives: Matthiessen R. Co. v. M'Mahon, 38 X. J. 537. As to the liability of insane persons for necessaries, see Ex parte Northington, 1 Ala. (S. C.) 400; Sawyer v. Lufkin, 56 Me. 308.
See on the subject of insanity generally, Dennett v. Dennett, 44 X. H. 531; Bond v. Bond, 7 Allen, 1; Hovey v. Chase, 52 Me. 304; Maddox v. Simmons, 31 Ga. 512; Somers v. Pumphrey, 24 Ind. 231; Cain v. Warford, 33 Md. 23; Hall v. Unger, 2 Abb. 507; Staples v. Wellington, 58 Me. 453; Boyd v. Boyd, 66 Pa. St. 283; Musselman v. Cravens, 47 Ind. 1.-S.
In Kendall v. May, 10 Allen, 59, a wealthy lunatic was sued for board, services rendered, and expenses incurred on his behalf. Among the latter were charges for pleasure trips made by plaintiff and his wife with the lunatic at his invitation. The court said: "The judge properly refused to instruct the jury that the journey taken by the defendant out of the State was not reasonably necessary for him, and that the plaintiff could not properly take him on contracting party has taken advantage of his lunacy: indeed, that was the decision in Levy v. Baker, reported in a note to Brown v. Jodrell (i).