Hopkins v. Hammond

Hopkins v. Hammond, 143 U.S. 224 (1892), was a leading case in the Supreme Court. In that case two partners owned real estate in common, some of which was used in the partnership business. One died making the other by his will a trustee for the testator's children, with power of sale of all the real estate, and directing that the business be continued. After carrying on the business for some time the trustee sold the real estate by auction, and bought portions of it in through a third person, and accounted for half of the net proceeds. The transaction was open and known to all the cestuis que trustent, and was objected to by none of them. It was held that there was nothing in this to indicate fraud; that the purchase was not absolutely void but voidable, and might be confirmed by the parties interested, either directly or by long acquiescence, or by the absence of an election to avoid the conveyance within a reasonable time after the facts came to their knowledge. There was a delay of nearly twenty years in that case. In delivering the opinion the Chief Justice said: "Each case must necessarily be governed by its own circumstances, since, though the lapse of a few years may be sufficient to defeat the action in one case, a longer period may be held requisite in another, dependent upon the situation of the parties, the extent of their knowledge or means of information, great changes in values, the want of probable grounds for the imputation of intentional fraud, the destruction of specific testimony, the absence of any reasonable impediment or hindrance to the assertion of the alleged rights, and the like."