Bonnafee v. Williams - 44 U.S. 574 (1845)
U.S. Supreme Court
Bonnafee v. Williams, 44 U.S. 3 How. 574 574 (1845)
Bonnafee v. Williams
44 U.S. (3 How.) 574
The circuit court of the United States has jurisdiction where a promissory note is made by a citizen of one state payable to another citizen of the same state or bearer, and the party bringing the suit is a citizen of a different state, although upon the face of the note it was expressed to be for the use of persons residing in the state in which the maker and payee lived.
Where the citizenship of the parties gives jurisdiction, and the legal right to sue is in the plaintiff, the court will not inquire into the residence of those who may have an equitable interest in the claim.
The plaintiffs in error were citizens of the State of New York; the defendants in error of Mississippi.
The defendants in error executed four joint and several promissory notes, promising to pay to Cowles Mead or bearer, for the use of the Real Estate Banking Company of Hinds County, the sums of money therein mentioned.
In 1841, the plaintiffs brought suit upon these notes, alleging themselves to be the lawful bearers thereof.
The defendants demurred upon the two following grounds:
"1. The plaintiffs cannot maintain the action because, by their own showing, the defendants who are sued are also a part of the persons for whose use the suit is commenced."
"2. The court can have no jurisdiction of this case because, although it is true the nominal plaintiffs are the bearers of the paper sued on and citizens of a state other than Mississippi, yet the usees, or those for whose benefit the suit is brought, for anything which appears in the declaration, are citizens of the State of Mississippi, and there are all other causes,"
The circuit court sustained the demurrer, from which decision a writ of error brought the case to this Court.