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HUDSON v. HAMPTON, Administratrix.
22543.
HEAD, Presiding Justice.
Specific performance. DeKalb Superior Court. Before Judge Dean.
1. "A contract upon which specific performance is sought must be certain, definite, and clear, and so precise in its terms that neither party can reasonably misunderstand it." Studer v. Seyer, 69 Ga. 125; Hill v. Hill, 149 Ga. 50, 52 (99 SE 31); Adcock v. Shaw, 167 Ga. 710 (146 SE 478); Blumfield v. Citizens Bank & Trust Co., 168 Ga. 322 (147 SE 579); Charles v. Simmons, 215 Ga. 794, 797 (113 SE2d 604).
2. "A parol contract for land, like the reformation of a deed by parol proof, should be made out so clearly, strongly and satisfactorily, as to leave no reasonable doubt as to the agreement." Printup v. Mitchell, 17 Ga. 558 (16) (63 AD 258); Barnett v. Henry, 200 Ga. 365, 371 (37 SE2d 340); Hulgan v. Gledhill, 207 Ga. 349 (61 SE2d 473); Harper v. Hudson, 210 Ga. 751 (82 SE2d 854); Mead v. McGee, 215 Ga. 574 (111 SE2d 234).
3. "Proving the alleged contract by a preponderance of the evidence is not sufficient to satisfy the rigid test. It must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt, a burden quite as onerous as that imposed in criminal cases." Salmon v. McCrary, 197 Ga. 281, 285 (29 SE2d 58); Vaughan v. Vaughan, 212 Ga. 485, 487 (93 SE2d 743); Lance v. Crane, 214 Ga. 284 (104 SE2d 439).
4. "The person seeking specific performance of such a contract must show, in addition to the contract, a substantial compliance with his part of the agreement." Mann v. Moseley, 208 Ga. 420 (1) (67 SE2d 128); Haynes v. Ellis, 199 Ga. 702, 705 (35 SE2d 151); Rodgers v. Street, 215 Ga. 643, 644 (112 SE2d 598).
5. Unless an oral contract to make a will, sought to be enforced by specific performance, is one where the petitioner agreed to go into the home of another to nurse the person and give such personal, affectionate, and considerate attention as could not readily be procured elsewhere, and where the value of such services could not readily be computed in money, the petitioner must allege and prove the value of the property and the value of the services contracted to be rendered. Potts v. Mathis, 149 Ga. 367 (100 SE 110); Brogdon v. Hogan, 189 Ga. 244 (5 SE2d 657); Johns v. Nix, 196 Ga. 417 (3) (26 SE2d 526); Jackson v. Copeland, 217 Ga. 420 (122 SE2d 573).
6. It was not error for the trial judge, as the trior of the facts without the intervention of a jury, to deny the prayers of the petition.
With reference to the alleged contract Mrs. S. R. Ellington testified for the petitioner: "Q. Do you have any knowledge of an agreement between Mr. and Mrs. Hudson and Charles Hudson, the plaintiff here? A. Yes. He were to help support them the best he could. Q. How did you get this information? A. Through them, through Mrs. Hudson and his father. That they wanted him there to help them make their living. Q. Did they ever relate to you an agreement? A. Well, they said that they wanted Charles taken care of. She always referred to him as a son, when she would bring him to my house, in the days when he was in school, and that if she ever could get where she could help him any way she wanted to take care of him and help him get through school, that if anything happened, that she would like it to go to Charles. Q. I am trying to elicit from you whether or not there was any agreement within your knowledge, whereby they ever related to you an agreement whereby Charles was to help them and they in return would do anything for him? A. Yes, if he were to help them, then she would see that--she also said that she and her husband wanted him to have what she had, if she ever could help him in any way . . . Q. . . . [W]hat did the plaintiff undertake if anything and what did Mr. and Mrs. Hudson undertake if anything? A. That they agreed that they wanted Charles taken care of and she said that she always wanted him to have what she had accumulated. Q. What did Charles Hudson undertake if anything? A. That he would look after them . . . Q. Do you have personal knowledge of an agreement between Charles Hudson, his father, Mr. Hudson, and his stepmother, as to Charles Hudson taking care of them? A. I do. Q. Would you state what it is, please ma'am? A. That his father always told me that they would expect Charles and was relying upon him to take care of them, and Charles did say he would do everything he could do to take care of them as long as they lived, and that they would want him to have whatever they had."
With reference to the alleged contract the witness Julian Stokes Kent testified for the petitioner: "Q. Do you recollect the last time you ever visited Mrs. Lettie K. Hudson? A. Yes, sir, I do. Q. About when was it, do you know? A. It was less than a week before she passed away, . . . Q. How long did this visit last? A. I would say between three and four hours. Q. What did you all talk about? A. Family affairs, the life of her husband, their life from the time they married, about their foster children, her stepchildren, Charles mostly and Louise, about where she worked and about her life, and about financial affairs, and about what her stepson meant to them and helped them out during their lifetime when they were in dire straits, not having any work for survival, that their stepson would bring his check there and give it to him, give it to both of them, to his father, and told just what his life meant to them, and she said that his sisters had their home and that he didn't, and she wanted him to have a home, she was going to see that he did have a home."
Mrs. Annie Lou Hudson, the wife of the petitioner, testified in part: "Q. . . . [D]id you have any conversation with Mrs. Hudson concerning any agreement? A. We talked on different occasions, about two weeks, I guess, after we were married she was just talking about Charles had paid their bills, said he had been good to them, said he seemed like their own legal child, said they had made an agreement, her and her husband and Charles, if he will take care of them in their troubles and things, I mean when he wasn't working which he was unemployed for a while, that when he and she died, it would go to him, what they had would go to Charles." She testified further that: She married the petitioner in 1939, and they lived with the decedent for about two years thereafter in a house rented by the petitioner. In about 1941 the decedent became employed, and the petitioner and the witness moved from the house. The decedent later bought a house, and for about three years the petitioner and the witness lived in the decedent's house with her, the petitioner paying the decedent $15 a week as rent.
There was evidence that the petitioner gave financial assistance to his father and stepmother during the period of time that they were unemployed, but no computation could be made from this evidence of the amount expended by him. The decedent died in 1961 and Mrs. Hampton qualified as administratrix of her estate. The real property was sold by the administratrix and she applied to the ordinary to institute proceedings for the escheat of the funds derived from the estate to the State, since no heirs of the decedent were known to her. In May, 1963, the petitioner, through his attorney, notified her of his claim.
The case was heard by the trial judge without the intervention of a jury, and the judge denied the prayers of the petition. The petitioner excepts to this judgment.
Richard Bell, Solicitor General, contra.
Ballard & Thigpen, Troy R. Thigpen, Jr., for plaintiff in error.
ARGUED JUNE 9, 1964 -- DECIDED JULY 9, 1964.
Friday May 22 21:42 EDT


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