Bank of America v. Parnell - 352 U.S. 29 (1956)
U.S. Supreme Court
Bank of America v. Parnell, 352 U.S. 29 (1956)
Bank of America National Trust & Savings Association v. Parnell
Argued October 18, 1956
Decided November 13, 1956
352 U.S. 29
CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE THIRD CIRCUIT
Alleging diversity of citizenship, petitioner, a bank in California, sued in a Federal District Court in Pennsylvania to recover the value of certain bonds alleged to have been converted in Pennsylvania. They were bearer bonds of the Home Owners' Loan Corporation, guaranteed by the United States, maturing in 1952 but called for redemption in 1944. They disappeared from petitioner's possession in 1944, and respondent Parnell, acting for one Rocco, presented them in 1948 to respondent bank in Pennsylvania, which collected the proceeds and paid them to Parnell, who paid them to Rocco. On the theory that state law governed, the District Court instructed the jury that respondents had the burden of showing that they took the bonds in good faith, without knowledge or notice of defect in title. Verdicts and judgments were for petitioner, but the Court of Appeals reversed on the ground that, under federal law, the bonds were not "overdue" when presented to respondent bank, and petitioner had the burden of showing notice and lack of good faith on the part of respondents.
Held: the judgment of the Court of Appeals is reversed, and the case is remanded to that Court for further proceedings. Pp. 352 U. S. 30-34.
(a) This litigation is purely between private parties, it does not touch the rights and duties of the United States, and the issues of burden of proof and good faith are governed by the law of Pennsylvania, where the transactions took place. Clearfield Trust Co. v. United States, 318 U. S. 363, distinguished. Pp. 352 U. S. 32-34.