Riggs V. Palmer Case Summary

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Case: Riggs v. Palmer (1889)
Facts: A grandfather, Francis B. Palmer, had listed an inheritance to his grandson and defendant, Elmer E. Palmer, in his will but was poisoned and murdered by said grandson (p. 140). The victim’s two daughters Mrs. Riggs and Mrs. Preston were also granted a small portion of the legacies as stated in Francis’ will (p. 141). The Appeals Court ruled Elmer was not entitled to the inheritance and the plaintiffs, Mrs. Riggs and Mrs. Preston, will be awarded full rights of this respective inheritance.
Issue: Does Elmer E. Palmer have a right to the legacies stated in Francis B. Palmer’s will, despite Elmer having murdered and been the cause of death of Francis?
Holding: No: The Appeals Court, with the exception of Gray, J all agreed with the statement from Earl, J. It is unconstitutional for “one to
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If there arise a case where the evidence and consequences are in opposition to common sense and reasoning, the case with regards to these consequences becomes void. (p. 142) b. Where a case arises out of generality and is deemed unreasonable by common sense and reasoning, the judges may conclude that this consequence was not predicted by parliament as a possible scenario (p. 142). 2. Exemplary Case: (New York Life Mutual Insurance Co. v. Armstrong): Held that the owner of a policy upon the life of another (life insurance policy) which would be received upon the death of said person, could not receive this insurance payment if the inheritor of the payment was also deemed responsible for the death of the person insured (p. 143)
a. In this case, there was no definite certainty that Elmer would out-live the testator, Francis, or that Francis would not change his will (p. 143).
b. Thus, the defendant, Elmer, cannot receive any of the legacies as heir because just before the murder he was not heir but rather made himself heir unnaturally through the murder and he seeks to take the property as “fruit of his crime” (p.

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