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Law School Case Brief

Milliken v. Pratt - 125 Mass. 374 (1878)

Rule:

The validity of a contract is to be determined by the law of the state in which it is made; if it is valid there, it is deemed valid everywhere, and will sustain an action in the courts of a state whose laws do not permit such a contract. Even a contract expressly prohibited by the statutes of the state in which the suit is brought, if not in itself immoral, is not necessarily nor usually deemed so invalid that the comity of the state, as administered by its courts, will refuse to entertain an action on such a contract made by one of its own citizens abroad in a state the laws of which permit it. If the contract is completed in another state, it makes no difference in principle whether the citizen of this state goes in person, or sends an agent, or writes a letter, across the boundary line between the two states.

Facts:

Plaintiff creditors filed an action to recover money from defendant wife, based on a guaranty that she executed as a collateral security for the liability of her husband for goods sold to him. The guaranty was delivered to the creditors in Maine. The court entered judgment in favor of the creditors. Defendant wife filed an appeal arguing that the law of Massachusetts, where she was domiciled, did not allow her to enter into a contract as surety.

Issue:

Is the guaranty that was executed and delivered by the defendant wife in Maine valid even if her law of domicile does not allow her to enter into a contract for the accommodation of her husband?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The court held that the contract, which the law of Maine recognized was lawfully made by a capable person, was valid everywhere, although the wife would not have been, under the law of her domicile, deemed capable of making it. Accordingly, the judgment in favor of the creditors was affirmed.

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