Appeal from the Morgan Superior Court, The Honorable G. Thomas Gray, Judge, Cause No. S-86-C-595.
Neal, J., Ratliff, C.j., and Hoffman, J. concur.
Defendant-appellant, Donald Cole, as Administrator of the Estate of Thomas Cole, deceased (the Estate), appeals an adverse judgment rendered by the Morgan Superior Court on a claim filed by Sandra Cole (Sandra), the ex-wife of Thomas Cole (Thomas).
The undisputed facts are as follows. Thomas and Sandra were once husband and wife whose marriage was dissolved on December 12, 1983. Two children, Tim and Brent, were born to the marriage and were adults at the time of the dissolution. Sandra received a judgment of $36,566.00. At the time of the judgment herein, a balance existed on the dissolution judgment of $11,884.02. In May and June of 1985, Thomas incurred a bill for health care at the Morgan County Memorial Hospital. After discussing the matter with Thomas, Sandra paid the $5,985.88 hospital bill with her own funds. At trial Sandra was prevented from testifying as to the reasons for the payment, on the basis of the dead man's statute.[Footnote 1] Thomas died intestate, and on April 18, 1986, Sandra filed claims against the Estate for the balance due on the dissolution judgment and for the hospital bill she had paid. Also, a claim for $1,290.00 was filed by the Painted Hills Association, Inc., a housing subdivision, for assessments which had accrued against property owned by Thomas and Sandra from 1980 to 1985, when the property was sold at a tax sale.
Though the dissolution decree required that Thomas provide life insurance to secure the dissolution judgment, the insurance had been permitted to lapse. At the time of the trial, the Estate possessed cash in the amount of $22,000.00. Another valid claim existed for $21,000.00. The real estate in the Estate had been transferred to Tim and Brent, subject to a mortgage in the amount of $20,000.00. The sons had refinanced the mortgage, so the mortgage was no longer a liability against the Estate. Sandra had agreed to subordinate her claims to the mortgage.
The trial court entered judgment for Sandra on her two claims and for Painted Hills on its claim. The Estate appeals only the medical bill claim.
As stated by the Estate, the sole issue is as follows:
Whether a volunteer can pay the debt of another and then collect from him absent any evidence of the volunteer's intent, and absent any evidence of prior request by the ...