Bevins v. Ramsey
56 U.S. 179 (1853)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Bevins v. Ramsey, 56 U.S. 15 How. 179 179 (1853)

Bevins v. Ramsey

56 U.S. (15 How.) 179

Syllabus

Where a clerk of a court was sued upon his official bond, and the breach alleged was that he had surrendered certain goods without taking a bond with good and sufficient securities, and the plea was that the bond which had been taken was assigned to the plaintiffs, who had brought suit, and received large sums of money in discharge of the bond, this plea was sufficient, and a demurrer to it was properly overruled.

Ramsey was clerk of the chancery court held at Knoxville, Tennessee. Bevins and Earle were citizens, the former of Arkansas, and the latter of South Carolina.

Page 56 U. S. 180

The action was one of debt upon the official bond of Ramsey and his securities.

The declaration states that Ramsey was appointed clerk and master of the chancery court, in the declaration mentioned, and, on the 11th April, 1836, delivered to Newton Cannon, Governor of Tennessee, his bond, with the other defendants, his sureties, in the penalty of $10,000, conditioned to discharge the duties of the office of clerk and master, according to law.

That Ramsey failed to discharge the duties of that office:

1. That upon the dissolution of an injunction, awarded on a bill attaching certain property brought by the plaintiffs against Chase & Bowen, which property had been put in the hands of Ramsey, clerk and master, as receiver, he was ordered to surrender the properly attached on Chase & Bowen, giving bond and security to abide the decree; that it was the duty of Ramsey, as clerk and master, to take that bond; that he did not take their bond with sufficient securities, but, on the contrary, took the bond of Chase, with Thornburg and others, as sureties, who were then wholly insufficient for the performance of the judgment and decree; that plaintiffs finally got a decree for $6,303.64, which is still unpaid.

2. That in the suit of Bevins v. Chase & Bowen, the property attached in, which had been placed in the hands of Ramsey, clerk and master of the court, as receiver, he was ordered to surrender the property attached to Chase & Bowen, on their giving bond and security to abide by and perform the decree, and under that order it was the duty of Ramsey, as clerk and master, before surrendering the goods, to take a bond from Chase & Bowen, with sufficient security conditioned according to the order. But Ramsey did not take such bond with sufficient security, but wholly neglected and failed so to do, and gave up the property without so doing. And plaintiffs afterwards obtained a decree against Chase & Bowen, for $6,303.64, which is still unpaid by said Chase & Bowen.

3. That in the suit, and under the order above prescribed, it was the duty of Ramsey, as clerk and master, to take such bond as the order directed to be taken before surrendering the property; yet Ramsey did not take bond and security from Chase & Bowen to abide and perform the decree, but surrendered the property without taking bond and security, and a decree was afterwards rendered for $6,303.64 in favor of the plaintiffs.

4. That in the suit, and under the order aforesaid, it was the duty of Ramsey, as clerk and master, to take from Chase & Bowen, bond and sufficient security to abide and perform the decree; yet he wholly failed and neglected to take bond and sufficient security, but surrendered the property held by him as

Page 56 U. S. 181

receiver, without taking bond and security as required by the order, and afterwards a decree for $6,303.64 was in that suit rendered in favor of plaintiffs, which Chase & Bowen have failed to perform, and which yet remains due.

By reason of the premises, the bond of Ramsey, as clerk and master, became forfeited, and was assigned by the successor of the obligee, Governor of Tennessee, by his written assignment, on a copy of the bond, to plaintiffs, on the 22d July, 1847.

The defendants appeared and pleaded:

1st. That they had performed the condition of the bond.

2d. That it was no part of the right or duty of Ramsey, as clerk and master, to take the bond of Chase & Bowen with good and sufficient security or otherwise, but it was the duty of the receiver.

On these pleas there is an issue of fact.

3d. That the filing the bill of the plaintiffs against Chase & Bowen, the attachment awarded, and the appointing the receiver, the order requiring the bond and the final decree, were null and void for want of jurisdiction in the court of chancery, the remedy being properly at law.

4th. That after the order on the declaration mentioned, and before the surrender of the property, Ramsey did take a bond conditioned as required by the order, which bond was, on application of Bevins, Earle & Co., by the court, ordered to be surrendered, and was accepted, and under it they have recovered $2,000.

5th. That the defendants do not owe the debt.

7th. That at the date of the bond, the obligors and obligees were citizens of Tennessee, and the obligors and the obligee and his successors, have all continued to be citizens of Tennessee.

8th. That at the time of the cause of action the plaintiffs and defendants were citizens of Tennessee.

To these pleas the plaintiffs demurred.

To the 6th plea: that before surrendering the property, Ramsey took bond conditioned as required by the order, and in so doing, and judging of the sufficiency of the sureties, he acted bona fide in the exercise of his best judgment.

The plaintiffs replied, that Ramsey did not take bond from Chase & Bowen with sufficient surety, as was his duty.

To this replication the defendants demurred.

The court overruled the demurrers of the plaintiffs and sustained the demurrer of the defendants to the replication to the sixth plea and to the declaration, and gave judgment for the defendant on the whole record.

Page 56 U. S. 182

In this state of things, the record was brought up to this Court.

Page 56 U. S. 187

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