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Abstract

Defendant, who had not heard from her husband during seven years of separation, believed that he had lost his life in the sinking of a car ferry owned by the plaintiff, because a man employed by plaintiff on the car ferry was registered on plaintiff's books under a name similar to one which defendant's husband had occasionally used. After defendant started suit against plaintiff for damages, plaintiff, believing that the deceased was the husband of the defendant, paid $4000 to defendant and received a release of all claims. Subsequent investigation, made after inquiry by the real wife of the deceased, revealed that defendant's husband was still alive and that the deceased was in no way related to the defendant. In an action at law to recover the money thus paid, it was held that the money was paid under a mutual mistake of fact as to the identity of the deceased and could be recovered, notwithstanding that it was paid in compromise of a pending suit and that plaintiff was negligent in not discovering the truth before payment. Grand Trunk Western R. R. v. Lahiff, (Wis. 1935) 261 N. W. 11.

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