B.F. Huntley Furniture Co. v. Parker


Court: Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. Suffolk

Date published: Jun 26, 1935


This is a petition for a writ of mandamus to compel the acceptance by the respondents, the judge and clerk of the Municipal Court of Brookline, of an application by a judgment creditor for supplementary process against a corporation organized under the laws of this Commonwealth against which the petitioner has recovered a judgment. The demurrer of the respondents on the ground that the petition set out no cause for relief was sustained. The petitioner accepted.

The question to be decided is whether the provisions of St. 1927, c. 334, § 2, now embodied in G.L. (Ter. Ed.) c. 224,  §§ 2-30, apply to corporations that are judgment debtors. The title of said c. 334 was “An Act to Revise the Poor Debtor Law by Providing for Supplementary Proceedings in Civil Actions.” That chapter, in substance and effect, superseded the poor debtor law as it had existed for many years. The poor debtor statutes were designed to regulate and alleviate the severity of the common law right of a creditor to arrest and imprison his debtor until the debt was paid. Manifestly, the exercise of that right was limited to debtors who had bodies capable of being seized and cast into prison. Like other things, it could not apply to corporations as debtors. Without tracing the history of the poor debtor statutes of this Commonwealth in detail, it is plain that until the enactment of said c. 334, they could not, by any reasonable construction, have been held to embrace debtors who were corporations. 



We think that the purpose of the enactment of the governing statute was a simplification of remedies and that its words, in light of the history of the development of our statutory law on the subject, do not permit an interpretation to include corporate debtors.

Exceptions overruled. 

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