McDonald v. Chemical National Bank
174 U.S. 610 (1899)

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U.S. Supreme Court

McDonald v. Chemical National Bank, 174 U.S. 610 (1899)

McDonald v. Chemical National Bank

No. 242

Argued April 13, 1899

Decided May 22, 1899

174 U.S. 610

Syllabus

The several payments and remittances made to the Chemical Bank by the Capital Bank before its insolvency were not made in contemplation of insolvency, or with a view to prefer the Chemical Bank.

These cheques and remittances were not casual, but were plainly made under a general agreement that remittances were to be made by mail, and that their proceeds were not to be returned to the Capital Bank, but were to be credited to its constantly overdrawn account, and when letters containing them were deposited in the post office, such mailing was a delivery to the Chemical Bank, whose property therein was not destroyed or impaired by the insolvency of the Capital Bank, taking place after the mailing and before the delivery of the letters containing the remittances.

In January, 1896, Kent K. Hayden, as the duly appointed receiver of the Capital National Bank of Lincoln, Nebraska, filed in the Circuit Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York a bill of complaint against the Chemical National Bank of New York.

Page 174 U. S. 611

The bill alleged that the Capital National Bank, on the 21st day of January, 1893, was insolvent and stopped doing business, and that, on the 22d day of January, 1893, the Comptroller of the Currency closed said bank and took possession of its assets and affairs; that for a period long prior to the 15th day of January, 1893, the said bank was insolvent, and its insolvency was known to all its officers; that ever since the second day of June, 1884, there had been mutual and extensive dealings between the two banks above named in which each had acted for the other, as correspondent banks do, for the making of collections and the crediting of the proceeds thereof; that the Capital National Bank kept an active deposit account with the defendant, and that settlements on the basis of such accounts were made at periodic times during all said period, and any balance after the correction of errors, mutually agreed to be charged or credited, was at such periods credited or debited, as the fact might be, upon the books of each of said banks to a new account, and the prior accounts thereby and in that manner adjusted and settled.

That the defendant bank had refused to pay or honor the drafts drawn upon it by the Capital National Bank presented on or since January 21, 1893; that, since January 22, 1893, the defendant bank had received many and large sums of money belonging to, and for the account of, the Capital National Bank, some of it being the sums of $2,935.60, $815.79, and $735, from the officers of the Capital National Bank, and the rest from the third parties which remitted the same to the defendant for account of the Capital National Bank, and that, in particular, it had received on January 23, 1893, $5,000 from the Packers' National Bank, and $2,000 from the Schuster Hax National Bank, and divers other sums from others, on that day and since; that the defendant had refused to account for and pay over to the complainant the said collections. Wherefore it was prayed that an accounting be had, and that the defendant be ordered to pay over what might be thereby found due.

The defendant bank answered, admitting the preliminary allegations of the bill but denying its knowledge of the

Page 174 U. S. 612

insolvency of the Capital National Bank on or prior to January 21, 1893, but averring that, up to the 23d day of January, 1893, it was informed and did believe that the said Capital National Bank was entirely solvent, and dealt with it and gave it credit as a solvent bank.

The answer denied that on and after January 21, 1893, it had ceased to pay and refused to pay all drafts drawn upon the defendant by the Capital National Bank, but admitted that on the 23d day of January, 1893, because of information then for the first time received of the struggling condition of said bank, the defendant bank did refuse to pay the drafts of the Capital National Bank, which was then indebted to the defendant in the sum of at least $13,992.93 on balance of account, besides large amounts of negotiable paper, indorsed by the Capital National Bank, then held by and previously purchased or discounted by the defendant bank, and the proceeds of which had been credited to the account of the Capital National Bank, all of which transactions were averred to have been made in the usual course of business between the banks, and without any knowledge, notice, or belief on the part of the defendant bank that the Capital National Bank was insolvent or in any danger of becoming so.

The answer denied that the defendant had, since January 22, 1893, received many and large sums of money belonging to and for account of the Capital National Bank, but admitted that since January 21, 1893, it had received certain remittances and payments, in the form of checks or drafts, for account of the Capital National Bank, all which it had placed to the credit of the Capital National Bank, which had left the Capital National Bank indebted to the defendant bank in a large sum in the form of balance of account and negotiable paper indorsed to the defendant by the Capital National Bank, and the answer alleged on information and belief that said remittances and payments were made by the Capital National Bank, or by other banks and bankers by the direction and order of said Capital National Bank, through the United States mails, and were so ordered, made, and remitted

Page 174 U. S. 613

before the appointment of any receiver for said Capital National Bank and before it ceased to pay its obligations or had suspended its usual and ordinary banking business, and that said remittances by said Capital National Bank, or by other banks and bankers, by it ordered to be made to the defendant, were made in the ordinary and accustomed course of business between the defendant and the National Capital Bank, and, when received by the defendant, were by it placed to the credit of the Capital National Bank.

The answer admitted that it had received the sums of $2,935.60, $815.79, $735, $5,000, and $2,000 on the 23d day of January, 1893; that the said sums of $2,935.60 and $815.79 were remitted to the defendant on or about the 19th day of January, 1893, and the said sum of $735 on or about the 20th day of January, 1893, by the said Capital National Bank, which on said respective days deposited and delivered the same in the United States mail, in letters addressed to the defendant, in the usual and accustomed course of business, and before said Capital National Bank had suspended payment or stopped business, and before it was taken charge of by the receiver; that the said sum of $5,000 was remitted to the defendant on or about the 19th day of January, 1893, by the Packers' National Bank, and the said sum of $2,000 was remitted to this defendant by the Schuster National Bank on or about January 19, 1893, by being by said banks, respectively, deposited in the United States mail, in letters addressed to the defendant, in the usual course of business, and before the Capital National Bank suspended payment or stopped business, and before it was taken charge of by the receiver. And the answer alleged on information and belief that said remittances to it by the Packers' National Bank and the Schuster National Bank, respectively, were made in virtue of orders and directions previously given to them by said Capital National Bank on or about January 18, 1893, in the usual course of business between them and the Capital National Bank.

A replication was filed and evidence put in on behalf of the respective parties. It was stipulated that the Capital National

Page 174 U. S. 614

Bank continued to transact the usual and ordinary business of a national bank up to the close of banking hours on January 21, 1893; that the ordinary mail time between Lincoln, Nebraska, and the City of New York is fifty hours; between Lincoln and South Omaha, Nebraska, where the Packers' National Bank is situated, is two hours and forty minutes; between South Omaha and New York City, forty-eight hours and thirty-seven minutes; between Lincoln and St. Joseph, Missouri, where the Schuster Hax National Bank is located, is seven hours and twenty-eight minutes, and between St. Joseph and New York City is fifty hours and fifty-five minutes. The complainant put in evidence an account or statement, furnished by the defendant to the complainant, showing the transactions between the Capital National Bank and the Chemical National Bank from January 3, 1893, to January 27, 1893, showing a balance on the last day of $13,317.94, against the Capital National Bank and in favor of the Chemical National Bank.

The complainant likewise put in evidence a draft drawn on January 13, 1893, by the Capital National Bank on the Chemical National Bank for $5,000, to the order of T. M. Barlow, cashier, and a protest of said draft for nonpayment on January 17, 1893; also, a statement of various drafts drawn by the Capital National Bank on the Chemical National Bank at different times, in favor of third parties, and protested for nonpayment on and after January 24, 1893. These protested drafts amounted to $44,264.66.

The defendant called as a witness its cashier, William I. Quinlan, who testified that when the draft for $5,000 to the order of T. M. Barlow, cashier, was presented and payment refused, the Capital National Bank had no deposits or funds on deposit with the Chemical National Bank out of which such draft could be paid, and that the account of the Capital National Bank had been overdrawn for some time. The defendant put in evidence a letter dated January 19, 1893, from the Packers' National Bank, enclosing its draft for $5,000 on the Fourth National Bank of New York, to be placed to the credit of the Capital National Bank, and letter, dated January

Page 174 U. S. 615

18, 1893, from the Schuster Hax National Bank, enclosing its draft for $2,000 on the Chemical National Bank, to the credit of the account of the Capital National Bank.

Further evidence was put in by the respective parties which it does not seem necessary to state.

On March 16, 1897, after argument, upon the pleadings and proofs, the circuit court dismissed the bill of complaint, with costs. An appeal was taken from this decree to the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and on January 31, 1898, that court affirmed the decree of the circuit court. 84 F. 874. And from the decree of the circuit court of appeals, an appeal was taken and allowed to this Court.

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