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Copeland v. Claflin

Decided: February 21, 1951.

CLAUDE B. COPELAND AND HELEN C. COPELAND, HIS WIFE, PLAINTIFFS-RESPONDENTS,
v.
ALMA O. CLAFLIN , DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



McGeehan, Jayne and Wm. J. Brennan, Jr. The opinion of the court was delivered by Jayne, J.A.D.

Jayne

It is expedient to summarize the factual events from which the present litigation originated.

One Wilbur A. Claflin, now deceased, was the owner of a tract of land of approximately 92 acres situate in Pemberton Township, Burlington County. He conceived the purpose of utilizing the land for the cultivation of blueberries as a commercial enterprise. In furtherance of his purpose he caused the organization of Billsmere Corporation, to which he and his wife, the defendant, on February 24, 1941, conveyed the tract of land. Claflin subscribed in the aggregate to 400 shares of the common stock of the corporation, of which 20 shares were issued to his wife, and Richard A. Beyer and

his wife, Caroline A. Beyer, acquired 23 shares and 22 shares respectively. Claflin was president; his wife, treasurer; Caroline Beyer, secretary, and her husband, vice-president of the company.

In 1941 the plaintiffs Claude B. Copeland and his wife, Helen C. Copeland, who was Claflin's daughter by a former marriage, were afforded living quarters at the plantation and engaged to aid in the development of the enterprise.

The company was soon in need of funds and Copeland procured three successive loans from his father reaching, on or about June 1, 1942, the total sum of $1,750, which were admittedly received and expended by Claflin to defray the costs and expenses of the company.

In August of 1942 the Copelands resolved to terminate their employment and return to Massachusetts where they then contemplated the establishment of a blueberry plantation of their own. It was thereupon agreed between Mr. Claflin, Mr. Copeland, and with the acquiescence of the latter's father, that in substitution of the obligation to repay the debt of $1,750 in money, there should be delivered to the plaintiffs 10,000 of the blueberry plants which had been placed in the nursery that spring.

It is acknowledged that neither the indebtedness of $1,750 has been paid nor have the blueberry plants or any of them been delivered.

It is advantageous to exhibit here an excerpt from paragraph 28 of the answer of the defendant:

"28. Answering Paragraph 28, defendant admits a demand by complainants upon her for the delivery of the aforesaid 10,000 blueberry plants or of their money value but denies that she refused to deliver the same or that she made any response to the said demand."

To resume the narrative of events, it is significant to relate that Mr. Claflin died on July 22, 1943, leaving a will in which he devised and bequeathed his entire estate to the defendant, and pursuant to the testator's nomination the defendant as the sole executrix assumed the administration of the decedent's estate. The defendant ...


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