First National Bank of Jacksboro v. Lasater
196 U.S. 115 (1905)

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U.S. Supreme Court

First National Bank of Jacksboro v. Lasater, 196 U.S. 115 (1905)

First National Bank of Jacksboro v. Lasater

No. 73

Submitted December 6, 1904

Decided January 3, 1905

196 U.S. 115

Syllabus

The payment referred to in § 5198, Rev.Stat., is an actual payment, and not a further promise to pay, and the mere discharge of the maker of a note by his giving his own note in renewal thereof will not uphold a recovery against the bank on account of usurious interest in the former note.

While a trustee in bankruptcy is not bound to accept property of an onerous or unprofitable character, and in case he declines to take it, the bankrupt may assert title thereto, he is entitled to be informed of the property and have a reasonable time to elect whether he will accept it or not.

If a claim owned by a bankrupt is of value, his creditors are entitled to it, and he cannot, by withholding knowledge of its existence from the trustee, after obtaining a discharge of his debts, immediately assert title to and collect the claim for his own benefit.

This case is here on error to the Court of Civil Appeals of the Second Supreme Judicial District of the State of Texas. It was an action brought in the District Court of Jack County by J. L. Lasater to recover from the First National Bank of Jacksboro twice a sum claimed to have been paid as usurious interest.

The material facts are as follows: J. L. Lasater and W. M. Maggard, as partners, borrowed of the bank $4,000, and executed their joint note with A.M. Lasater as surety. They also mortgaged cattle as further security. Subsequently Maggard sold all his interest in the mortgaged property to J. L. Lasater, the latter assuming all liabilities and renewing the note with the same surety. Thereafter, A.M. Lasater, the surety, bought all the mortgaged cattle, and, as part of the consideration, agreed to assume and pay off the note. In pursuance of this agreement, he took up the note of J. L. Lasater, and gave his own note therefor. This last note, A.M. Lasater paid in full to the bank. After all these transactions, and on November 19, 1900, J. L. Lasater filed his petition in bankruptcy

Page 196 U. S. 116

in the district court of the United States. On January 7, 1901, he was discharged of his debts, and on June 11, 1901, the trustee was also discharged of his trust. The bankrupt returned no assets to the trustee, and did not tell him or the creditors about this claim for usury.

On July 26, 1901, he brought this action, under the authority of section 5198, Revised Statutes, United States, to recover twice the amount of the interest paid to the bank. The court of appeals found that part of the interest was paid more than two years prior to the commencement of the action, and held that no recovery could be had as to that, but, reversing the district court, entered a judgment in favor of the plaintiff for double the amount of the balance of the interest on the ground that usury entered into it all.

Section 5198, Revised Statutes, provides:

"The taking, receiving, reserving, or charging a rate of interest greater than is allowed by the preceding section, when knowingly done, shall be deemed a forfeiture of the entire interest which the note, bill, or other evidence of debt carries with it, or which has been agreed to be paid thereon. In case the greater rate of interest has been paid, the person by whom it has been paid, or his legal representatives, may recover back, in an action in the nature of an action of debt, twice the amount of the interest thus paid, from the association taking or receiving the same, provided, such action is commenced within two years from the time the usurious transaction occurred. "

Page 196 U. S. 117

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