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Blake v. Brennan

Decided: November 12, 1948.

MARY BLAKE, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
JAMES BRENNAN AND MARY BRENNAN, DEFENDANTS



On final hearing.

Jayne, J.s.c.

Jayne

When young "Jimmie" Brennan arrived in the United States from Ireland in 1925, he found a kind-hearted friend and sympathetic benefactor in one George Foley. It was Foley who obtained lodgings for him and soon procured for him an opportunity of employment. Thus originated an affectionate and enduring friendship between the childless George Foley, his wife Catherine, and the grateful James Brennan. Jimmie, however, never was a member of the Foley household.

The succeeding events about to be related occurred in the City of Trenton. Jimmie was engaged in the capacity of building custodian and maintenance supervisor at Rider College, and was thereafter employed in a like position by the Board of Education of the city.

It was in 1938 that Foley unfortunately resolved to enter into the retail alcoholic beverage business, and he purchased an existing saloon for $800. He soon began to succumb to the ever present temptation to indulge in the stock at hand, and his submission was progressively more excessive. His carelessness kept pace with his intemperance. The bar room degenerated into a filthy, squalid resort regularly harboring

that variety of inmates commonly called "bar flies" who are alert to accept any "given" quantity of liquor to which the proprietor or some liberal patron may treat them. Mrs. Foley was aware of the conditions, so was Jimmie, and in his infrequent sober moments so was George Foley.

It was in such exigency that Mr. and Mrs. Foley implored Jimmie to render assistance. Would he not conduct the saloon during some of the evenings of the week, particularly on those when Mr. Foley was incapacitated?

Jimmie had married, and his wife although emphatic in her disapproval, nevertheless appreciated the depth of her husband's gratitude and friendship for Mr. Foley. Jimmie contributed his assistance on such occasions and evidently succeeded in so far as his time and the conditions would permit in improving the surroundings and the environment. Mr. Foley offered him a partnership interest in the business which Jimmie declined.

On December 13, 1944, Foley collapsed and died in the saloon. It was Jimmie who conducted his old friend to an abode of eternal rest.

The only property known to belong to the decedent's estate were the saloon business and its bad will. Mrs. Foley had some information of the existence of an insurance policy on her husband's life, only to discover that he had materially reduced the benefit by means of loans on its security. The apprehension that Mr. Foley had numerous debts and that his estate was insolvent promptly became a reality.

Doubtless Mrs. Foley in looking toward the future envisioned a scene of perplexity. However, I am persuaded that she thoughtfully surveyed all of her circumstances and perceived the avenues which she might possibly pursue. Of her mental ability to have done so, I have no uncertainty.

The scope of her contemplations can be easily deduced from the evidence. She undoubtedly realized that she had no more than $1,500 in cash, that she owned premises at No. 797 East State Street of a taxable valuation of $3,600, upon which there was a mortgage encumbrance of $3,000, and from ...


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