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Cauble v. Handler

    Brief Fact Summary. Plaintiff, the Administratrix of the estate of Thomas Cauble, appeals from the trial court’s judgment awarding her a judgment for a deceased partner’s share in the partnership based on the book value of the assets without a share in the profits made by the surviving partner after the death of the deceased partner.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. Upon death, the representative of the deceased partner’s estate is entitled to proper accounting based on the market value of the assets and the right to elect whether to discontinue the partnership.

    Facts. Plaintiff brings this suit against Defendant, Tom Handler, for an accounting of the partnership assets. Cauble and Handler were equal partners in a business that sold retail furniture and appliances.
    The trial court used the cost or book value determined by Handler to determine the value of the partnership inventory at the time of Cauble’s death on May 18, 1971. At the time of trial, Handler still operated and controlled the partnership, making a net profit of $40,163.42.
    The trial court awarded Plaintiff a judgment against Handler for $20.95 plus six percent interest thereon from February 2, 1973, the date of the judgment. The court awarded the court appointed auditor $1,800.00 for his services, labeled this item as court costs, and charged it to Plaintiff. Plaintiff appeals.
    Plaintiff contends that the trial court erred in calculating her judgment. She claims that she is entitled to one-half of the value of the partnership assets based on the market value of the assets, plus a share of the profits from the date of Cauble’s death to the date of judgment.

    Issue.
    Whether the trial court erred in using the cost or book value instead of the market value to determine the value of the partnership assets?

    Whether the trial court erred in not awarding Plaintiff a share of profits made by Handler after Cauble’s death?

    Whether the trial court erred in charging the court appointed auditor’s fee in the amount of $1800.00 solely to Plaintiff?

    Held. Reverse and remanded.
    Yes. The partnership assets value should be based on the market value.

    Yes. At Plaintiff’s election, she may receive profits made by the surviving partner after the death of a partner.

    Yes. Court costs are typically paid by the partners in proportion to their interest in the business.


    Discussion.
    Under section 38(1) of UPA (1914), the representative of the estate of the deceased partner may elect to have the partnership assets liquidated, the debts paid and the share of each partner paid to her. Under section 42 of UPA (1914), the representative has a right to share in the profits, if she elects to do so, if the other partner continues to operate the business after dissolution.


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