Peale v. Phipps
55 U.S. 368 (1852)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Peale v. Phipps, 55 U.S. 14 How. 368 368 (1852)

Peale v. Phipps

55 U.S. (14 How.) 368

Syllabus

Two statutes of Mississippi, one passed in 1843 and the other in 1846, provide that where the charter of a bank shall be declared forfeited, a trustee shall be appointed to take possession of its effects and commissioners appointed to audit accounts against it.

Where these steps had been taken and the commissioners had refused to allow a certain account, the circuit court of the United States had no right to entertain a bill filed by the creditors to compel the trustee to pay the rejected account. There was a want of jurisdiction.

The cases upon this point examined.

A claim by the trustee in reconvention was not a waiver of the exception to the jurisdiction.

It will be seen, by reference to 45 U. S. 4 How. 225, that Charles Rice and Mary, his wife, and Martha Phipps recovered, in an action of ejectment against the Agricultural Bank of Mississippi, two undivided third parts of a lot of ground in the city of Natchez.

Page 55 U. S. 369

In May, 1847, they sued out a writ of habere facias possessionem and entered into possession of the property.

Under the laws of Mississippi, the charter of the bank became forfeited, and Elijah Peale was appointed trustee.

In April, 1848, Martha Phipps and Mary Bowers, wife of Charles Rice, filed their petition in the Circuit Court of the United States for the Eastern District of Louisiana against Peale. They claimed rent of the property from 1839 to 1847, damages for injuries done to the property whilst in possession of the bank, and the costs to which they had been put by the ejectment. Peale filed exceptions and an answer. The second exception, upon which the judgment of this Court turned, was as follows.

"2. Because the charter of Agricultural Bank was declared forfeited and the said bank put in a course of liquidation as an insolvent corporation, and this defendant appointed trustee for the purpose of collecting the assets thereof by the Circuit Court of Adams County in the State of Mississippi, and said trustee is not amenable to any other court than the one that appointed him and of which he is the officer, and this Court has no jurisdiction whatever of him in his said capacity."

The following agreement of counsel was filed in the case:

"It is agreed between the parties in the above-named suit, by Prentiss and Finney, attorneys for the plaintiffs, and Robert Mott, attorney for the defendant, that the following facts shall be admitted upon the trial of the cause, and the same are hereby admitted: "

"1. That the President, Directors, and Company of the Agricultural Bank of Mississippi were in possession of the City Hotel, being the premises, the mesne profits of which are sued for on the 1st day of December, 1839."

"2. It is admitted that the said hotel and furniture rented, from said 1st day of December, 1839, until 1st November, 1842, for the sum of six thousand dollars per annum, and from said 1st November, 1842, until plaintiffs took possession at the rate of four thousand dollars per annum, and that said rates shall be considered as the fair annual rent of said property during said periods."

"3. It is admitted that the charter of the Agricultural Bank has been adjudged forfeited under the laws of Mississippi, and that the defendant, Elijah Peale, is the trustee appointed under and by virtue of said laws to represent the said corporation."

"4. It is admitted that the claim sued on was, before the commencement of this suit, presented to the commissioners appointed in Mississippi to audit and allow claims against said bank, to-wit, to J. A. Van Dalsen and C. L. Dubuisson, and they were

Page 55 U. S. 370

requested to audit and allow the same, but that they refused to audit, allow, or in any way recognize the same."

"5. It is admitted that the claim sued on was, before the commencement of this suit, presented to the defendant, as trustee of said Agricultural Bank, and he was requested to allow the same as a just and valid claim against said bank; but that said defendant, as trustee as aforesaid, refused to admit, recognize, or allow said claim or any part thereof."

"6. It is admitted that the fees of counsel employed by the plaintiffs in the prosecution of the suit of ejectment against the Agricultural Bank, for the recovery of said City Hotel in the circuit court and Supreme Court of the United States exceeded in value the sum of two thousand dollars, and that said sum of $2,000 dollars would be a reasonable fee for the conduct of said suit from its commencement to its termination."

"It is admitted that the furniture of house &c. on the premises formed part of the rent in the proportion of one-fourth to three-fourths thereof."

"It is admitted that the charter of the bank was declared forfeited by law, and the assets of the bank put in the possession of the defendant, who still holds the same as trustee or representative."

"RO. MOTT, Attorney"

"PRENTISS & FINNEY, For Plaintiffs"

"It is further admitted that the Agricultural Bank had stopped specie payments previous to the time of the forfeiture of the charter, and did not afterwards resume."

"PRENTISS & FINNEY, Plaintiffs' Attorneys"

In January, 1849, the cause came on to be heard, when the circuit court decreed that the plaintiffs do recover from Peale the sum of $20,058, with interest at 5 percent until paid, and that they should have execution upon the assets of the bank, which were then, or might be thereafter, in the hands of the trustee.

From this decree, Peale appealed and brought the case up to this Court.

Page 55 U. S. 372

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