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equacy of the consideration, and basis of the suit, a court of equity will ignorance of law and facts changing not deny its aid to a litigant guilty the nature of the property sold, known thereof on the theory that such litito opposite party to the contract, were gant is in court with "unclean hands.” held to bar a suit for the specific per- Therefore, in Carr v. Craig (1908) 138 formance thereof.
Iowa, 526, 116 N. W. 720, it appeared In Larscheid v. Kittell (1910) 142 that the plaintiff and her husband had Wis. 172, 125 N. W. 442, 20 Ann. Cas. purchased land which was conveyed to 576, it appeared that the plaintiff had them jointly. They were subsequently sold certain land in controversy in the separated. The husband had not insuit to the assignor of the defendant vested any money in the land, and the corporation under a contract of sale. money paid therefor was that of the Subsequently, on the organization of wife only. It was agreed between the the defendant company, in which or- plaintiff and the defendant, who was ganization he participated with the her brother, that the property, for the company's said assignor and became a purpose of extinguishing the husstockholder of the concern, he gave a band's apparent title, should be sold warranty deed to the land to the com- to satisfy a purchase-money mortgage pany and took a note of its directors thereon, that the defendant should for the deferred payments under the purchase the property at the forecloscontract. The court held that the giv- ure sale, and either pay to the plaining of the warranty deed was a dec- tiff the amount which she had invested laration to the world that the title of in the property, or hold the latter in the corporation to the land was free trust for her, subject to the payment from all encumbrances, and that the by her of the money which he should plaintiff, in seeking to establish and be required to invest in it in order to enforce a lien on the property of the acquire the title. In a suit instituted defendant, which had become insol- for the purpose of enforcing this vent, for the balance of the purchase agreement it was contended that, bemoney under the contract, was in cause of the act of the plaintiff in encourt with “unclean hands,” and not deavoring to extinguish her husband's entitled to the relief prayed.
title, the plaintiff was not in court In McDonald v. Markesan Canning with “clean hands;" but it was held Co. (1910) 142 Wis. 251, 125 N. W. 444, that the principle of the maxim had no it appeared that a person, claiming application, the act complained of bejustification therefor, withdrew from ing unconnected with the subject-mata corporation before the completion ter of the suit. of its organization. After many years, Where a marriage contract is not and when the company had become void but voidable, it has been held that successful in its enterprise, he sued a court of equity will deny the comthe corporation to compel it to per- plainant any relief in litigation affectform the contract which it had en- ing such marriage if he comes into tered into with him when the project
court with "unclean hands." Stokes was started, and which he had repu
v. Stokes (1908) 128 App. Div. 838, diated. He was held to be in court
113 N. Y. Supp. 145. That case arose with "unclean hands," and disentitled
under a statute providing as follows: to the assistance of a court of equity
"A marriage is absolutely void if conin the prosecution of his claim.
tracted by a person whose husband or In Interior Securities Co. v. Camp
wife by a former marriage is living, bell (1919) Mont. — 178 Pac. 582,
3. Such former it was given as a reason for denying husband or wife has absented himself specific performance of an unreason
or herself for five successive years able contract that the complainant did then last past without being known to not come into court with clean hands. such person to be living during that
However, where the inequitable con- time,” in which event it was held by duct complained of is not directly con- the court that such "a marriage is nected with the contract which is the void from the time its nullity is declared by a court of competent juris- lation to either as to be affected by the diction." The court held that there contract or its consequences.” was nothing in the statute to compel So in Barnes V. Starr (1894) 64 the rendition of a decree of nullity of Conn. 154, 28 Atl. 980, the conceala marriage between persons one of ment by the parties to an antenuptial whom had been previously married, agreement of their intention in executbut whose husband had absented him- ing the agreement, that it was simply self for nine years without any knowl- for the purpose of overcoming the obedge of his whereabouts by the de- jections of the relatives and friends serted spouse, where the husband of of the husband, and was to be dethe second marriage was not in court stroyed after being shown to such with “clean hands" in seeking the an- relatives and friends, was held to nulment, in that he had agreed, on as- be such inequitable conduct toward certaining a few months after the the latter, who were the beneficiaries marriage that his wife's former hus- under the will of the husband, that it band was still living, to remain with could not be set up by the surviving her and continue his recognition of spouse to defeat the agreement and her as his wife, and that he had sus- procure her share of the estate. tained towards her the relation of
c. Failure to perform contract. husband for two years following the acquisition of such information.
A party to a contract who fails to In Bays v. Bays (1918) 105 Misc.
perform a material obligation of the 492, 174 N. Y. Supp. 212, a boy who
contract is not in court with “clean procured a woman to marry him by
hands" when he seeks the aid of a falsely stating his age, and who swore
court of equity in the protection of falsely as to his age in order to pro
his alleged rights arising out of or cure a marriage license, was held to be
connected with the contract, and is not in court with unclean hands in seek
entitled to the relief prayed. Asheing an annulment because of his non
Carson Co. v. Bonifay (1906) 147 Ala.
376, 41 So. 816 (improperly boxing age. However, reprehensible conduct of
trees); Henrique v. Paris (1896) 10 a litigant which is unconnected or in
Haw. 412 (breach of covenant in lease directly connected with the marriage
to clear property); Bennett v. Stuart contract, such as illicit cohabitation
(1914) 161 Ky. 264, 170 S. W. 642 prior to the marriage, will not, in the
(fraudulent misappropriation of monapplication of the principle of this
ey advanced to purchase mining maxim, preclude a recovery in a court
land); Newby v. Laurence (1909) 84 of equity of the relief prayed. Lyman
Neb. 622, 121 N. W. 965 (failure of v. Lyman (1916) 90 Conn. 406, L.R.A.
complainant to share fruit picked and 1916E, 643, 97 Atl. 312; Roote v. Roote
gathered by him from defendant's (1909) 33 App. D. C. 398, 23 L.R.A.
land, according to terms of contract, (N.S.) 240.
pleaded in suit to enjoin defendant
from entering on property); Westb. Affecting person not party to contract. wood v. Cole (1910) 66 Misc. 53, 120 N.
The unconscionable conduct com- Y. Supp. 884, judgment reversed in plained of in order to bar the person (1910) 139 App. Div. 841, 124 N. charged therewith from the aid of a Y. Supp. 97 (failure of plaintiff to court of equity need not be directed invested in partnership adventure unagainst the other party or parties to der partnership agreement, pleaded in the contract, but may be a wrong per- suit for an accounting of partnership petrated on a third person.
business); Georgia Bldg. Co. v. BurThus, in Brown v. Brown (1895) 66 dett (1914) 150 N. Y. Supp. 27 (reConn. 493, 34 Atl. 490, after a refer- fusal of certain minority stockholders ence to the maxim, the court said: of corporation to consent to mortgag"The general rule is that the parties ing of corporate property, a statute reto a contract must act not only bona quiring consent of two thirds of stockfide between themselves, but that they holders to such project, after money shall not act mala fide in respect to which was to be secured by such mortother persons who stand in such a re- gage had been advanced in accordance
with agreement whereby, in consider- as required by the contract, and had ation of such advance, minority stock- not taken steps to remedy the condiholders were to consent to execution tion. The court held that the plainof mortgage, disclosed in suit by mi- tiff was not entitled to the relief nority stockholders to cancel mort- prayed, saying: "Here, the fact regage); Caldwell v. Virginia F. & M. mains that complainant failed in its Ins. Co. (1911) 124 Tenn. 593, 139 S. most vital obligation, involving the W. 698 (oral agreement between plain- health and well-being of a large comtiff and agent of defendant to renew munity, and is vulnerable to the maxfire insurance on premises, made in im, 'He who comes into equity must violation of provisions of policy come with clean hands.' sought to be renewed, pleaded in de- The question involved in Union fense of suit to recover for loss); Cent. L. Ins. Co. v. Drake (1914) 131 Hardee v. Alexander (1915) Tex. C. C. A. 82, 214 Fed. 536, was the folCiv. App. -, 182 S. W. 57 (breach of lowing: Where mortgaged property is agreement between cotenants); Ma- sold by a trustee in bankruptcy for a ginnis v. Knickerbocker Ice Co. (1901) sum which is more than sufficient to 112 Wis. 385, 69 L.R.A. 833, 88 N. W. pay a mortgage on the property, is the 300 (wilful disregard by defendants trustee in bankruptcy entitled to of conditions of deed of conveyance the surplus for distribution among the by common grantor of plaintiff and de- creditors of the bankrupt generally, or fendants of certain land to defendants, is the mortgagee, who satisfied prior which disregard entitled said grantor, mortgages on the property to protect by terms of deed, to declare forfeiture his own, and therefore acquired by of property by defendants, pleaded in subrogation the rights of the prior support of suit to quiet title of plain- mortgagee against the mortgagor, the tiff to said land procured from said bankrupt, entitled to the sum as poscommon grantor by conveyance after sessing an equity therein superior to said breach and forfeiture); Sanders that of the bankrupt mortgagor, where v. Thomlinson (1910) 2 Alberta L. R. the loan secured by the latest mort512 (default in payment of second in- gage was procured with the understalment of purchase price of prop- standing that the money so loaned erty, nonpayment of taxes, and depre- would be used for the purpose of satisciation in value of property, disclosed fying the prior mortgages, but was apin suit by purchaser to recover amount propriated by the mortgagor for a difof first instalment paid by him, and ferent use? It was held, applying the claimed because of alleged wrongful maxims, "He who comes into equity sale of property by defendant after must come with clean hands," and "He rescission of contract of purchase, who has done iniquity cannot have which deprived him of right of re- equity," that the mortgagor, by his indemption).
equitable conduct in misappropriating In Montana Water Co. v. Billings the fund obtained for the purpose of (1914) 214 Fed. 121, appeal dis- satisfying the prior mortgages remissed in (1915) 139 C. C. A. 665, ferred to, gave to the subsequent mort224 Fed. 1021, the suit was for the gagee a superior equity in the surplus specific performance of the renew- from the sale of the property over that al clause of a contract to supply the
of the trustee in bankruptcy, who defendant city with pure and whole
stood in the place of the bankrupt some water for the public use. At the
mortgagor. expiration of the contract period the
In Cassidy v. Metcalf (1876) 1 defendant, by the terms of the agree
Mo. App. 593, the act of setting up a ment, was to exercise an option to pur
new business in a building adjacent to chase the water system, with the al
the old establishment after the sale of ternative of renewing its contract
the good will of the old business to with the plaintiff for a like period of another, who was induced to buy it by time. The evidence disclosed that the misrepresentations of the seller that plaintiff had not been supplying the he intended to leave the city and go city with pure and wholesome water, into business elsewhere, was held to be a violation of the bargain, disen- payment of the amount of the notes titling the seller to the relief sought in which the defendant had refused to a suit to reform the contract on the accept, and ordered the assignment of ground of a mistake.
the notes which had been acceptable In Jayne v. Cortland Waterworks to the defendant. The plaintiff reCo. (1905) 107 App. Div. 517, 95 N. fused to assi the notes as ordered, Y. Supp. 227, it was held that the but offered to pay the cash judgment plaintiff was not in court with “clean and otherwise perform the contract. hands” in seeking the removal of wa- The plaintiff then instituted this suit ter pipes of the defendant, sunk under to compel a conveyance of the propthe land of the plaintiff, the latter not erty according to the terms of the conhaving performed a covenant in the tract. It was held that the justice had deed of the property to his grantor for exceeded his authority in ordering an the benefit of the defendant's land, assignment of the notes to which refheld at the time of the execution there- erence has been made, and that his of by the latter's grantor, relative to judgment was therefore for an amount the extension of a road through the less than that which was due. It was property, under which the defendant further held that while the court could have laid its pipes without com- could not interfere with the justice's pensation to any landowner.
judgment, it could compel the plaintiff In Cross v. Farmers Elevator Co. to do equity before granting him the (1915) 31 N. D. 116, 153 N. W. 279, one relief prayed, and that as he was in of the promoters of a corporation, who, court, seeking to enforce the conveyfor the purpose of gaining the control ance of the property without having of the concern, violated an agreement paid the full purchase price thereof, with the other stockholders, that no and persisting in his refusal to do so, person should acquire more than ten his hands were not "clean," and his shares of the company's stock, by pur- suit must therefore be dismissed. chasing through "dummies" sufficient In Wellsville Oil Co. v. Miller stock to insure for himself a control- (1914) 44 Okla. 493, 145 Pac. 344, a ling interest in the company, has been suit to validate an oil and gas lease to held to be in court with "unclean certain lands and to cancel a similar hands” in seeking the cancelation of lease of the same land, subsequently sales of stock by the company in a executed to another company, it was manner to take such control away held that the plaintiff, in operating from him.
under its lease, as alleged, “to such an In Townsend v. Alexander (1825) 2 excessive and unreasonable extent Ohio, 18, it appeared that the plaintiff that the greater part of the oil underand the defendant entered into a con- lying said land will be exhausted by tract for the purchase by the former the time the lease terminated,' and and the sale by the latter of certain that 'the unusual and excessive pumpreal estate. The first two instalments ing would result in great and irreparof the purchase price were paid ac- able loss to the estate,'” and by forccording to the agreement. In payment ing the defendant to come into court of the third instalment the plaintiff for authority to execute the subseoffered to assign notes of certain in- quent lease, had breached its lease dividuals, which was in compliance and was in court with "unclean with the terms of the contract. The hands," and not entitled to the relief defendant offered to accept some of prayed. the notes, but refused his acceptance In Englander v. Apfelbaum (1913) of the others. The plaintiff then re- 56 Pa. Super Ct. 152, it appeared that fused to assign any but the entire adjoining property of the parties to number of the notes, and the defend- the suit was acquired through mesne ant instituted a suit before a justice conveyances from a common grantor, to compel the payment of the third in- in whose deeds of the property were stalment. The justice entered a judg- included certain restrictions to be obment against the plaintiff for a cash, served in the use of the property. In violation of these restrictions certain In Niles-Bemet-Pond Co. v. Iron encroachments were made on restrict- Molders' Union (1917) 246 Fed. 851, ed areas in the construction of the a corporation owning a controlling inpremises of the plaintiff, but no ob- terest in another corporation was held jection was interposed thereto during not to be precluded, on the theory that a period of nineteen years following it was in court with “unclean hands," such construction. In a suit to enjoin from obtaining an injunction restrainthe defendants from violating the re- ing striking workmen of the plant of strictions in their deed by construct- the latter concern from committing ing improvements in the restricted unlawful acts in furtherance of the area, it was held that, in view of the strike, because of the breach by the presumption that the violations of the subsidiary company of an agreement plaintiff had been maintained by com- entered into with its workmen on the mon consent, he was not in court with occasion of a previous strike, which "unclean hands" in seeking the relief agreement induced the men to return prayed.
to their work. The reason given for In American Ice Co. v. Hunter this ruling was that the breach re(1914) 60 Pa. Super. Ct. 311, the plain- ferred to was not immediately contiff sought to enjoin the defendant nected with the subject-matter of the from conducting his ice business in litigation. violation of an agreement between the
d. Failure to return benefits of contract. parties, whereby, in consideration of
The familiar rule that one who, his employment as a driver by the plaintiff, the defendant agreed not to
while seeking the specific performance
of a contract, or resisting a suit to engage in the ice business within one
rescind an agreement, or seeking for year after leaving its employment.
other relief affecting alleged rights There was a verbal agreement that the
arising out of a contract, has failed or employment was to be from year to
refused to return any benefits which year. The court held that the plain
he has received under the contract, is tiff, because of the fact that it had
not to be entitled to the relief prayed, discharged the defendant from its em
has, in a few cases, been put on the ployment without cause, before the ex
ground that he is in court with "unpiration of the term of the employ
clean hands." Indianapolis Northern ment, was in court with “unclean
Traction Co. v. Essington (1912) 54 hands" in praying the relief it sought.
Ind. App. 286, 99 N. E. 761, rehearing However, where, by the terms of a
denied in (1912) 54 Ind. App. 300, 100 conveyance of real estate by a father
N. E. 765. to his daughter, a life estate was re
In Pearce v. Sutherland (1910) 4 served for the father, and the daugh
Alaska, 120, the suit was in equity for ter was to pay the taxes on the prop
an accounting between partners. Afterty, it was held in a suit instituted
er the institution of a former suit by by the daughter against the father, in
one of the partners against the other, which the latter pleaded the failure of the daughter to pay the taxes, as
a compromise agreement had been en
tered into. The plaintiff received a agreed, and his pas ent thereof to
sum of money under this agreement, prevent a sale of the property for
but, on the failure of the defendant to taxes, in support of his counterclaim
make a subsequent payment, the plainfor the cancelation of the deed as for
tiff attempted to rescind the agreea breach of an alleged condition sub
ment, and instituted a suit for an acsequent,—that because of such failure
counting, without, however, returning by the daughter she was not in court or offering to return the money paid with "unclean hands," she having, be- to him under the compromise agreefore the institution of the suit, ten- ment, or even asking that it be set off dered payment of the taxes to the de- in case of the recovery in the suit of fendant, which tender was refused. a judgment in his favor. The court Burgson v. Jacobson (1905) 124 Wis. held that he was in court with “un295, 102 N. W. 563.
clean hands,” and was estopped from