Booth v. Clark - 58 U.S. 322 (1854)
U.S. Supreme Court
Booth v. Clark, 58 U.S. 17 How. 322 322 (1854)
Booth v. Clark
58 U.S. (17 How.) 322
There was a judgment recovered in the supreme court of New York, upon which a fieri facias was issued, the return to which was, "no goods, chattels, or real estate of the defendant to be levied upon"
The creditor then filed a creditor's bill before the chancellor of the First Circuit in the State of New York to subject the equitable assets and choses in action of the debtor to his judgment. The bill was taken pro confesso, and in 1842 a receiver was appointed. The debtor was also enjoined from making any disposition of his estate, legal or equitable; but the court had not been applied to, either by the creditor or the receiver, for any order upon the debtor in personam to coerce his compliance with the injunction or decree.
In 1843 the debtor went into another state and took the benefit of the bankrupt law of the United States. An assignee was appointed, and after his death another person to succeed him.
In 1851, a sum of money was awarded to the debtor for a claim accruing anterior to the judgment, by the commissioners under the Mexican treaty, which was claimed by the receiver and also by the assignee in bankruptcy, both prosecuting their claims in the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of Columbia.
The assignee in bankruptcy has the best right to the fund.
A receiver is an officer of the court which appoints him, but cannot sue in a foreign jurisdiction for the property of the debtor.
The proper course would be to compel obedience to the injunction by a coercion of the person of the debtor, obliging him either to bring the property in dispute within the jurisdiction of the court or to execute such a conveyance or transfer thereof as will be sufficient to vest the legal title as well as the possession of the property according to the lex loci rei sitae.
The New York and English cases upon this subject examined.
The distinction between a receiver in chancery under a creditor's bill and an assignee in bankruptcy explained.
In England, an assignee in bankruptcy is held to be vested with the personal property of the bankrupt which is in foreign countries, and her courts acknowledge the validity of the title of a foreign assignee to property in England when such title emanates from a country which has a bankrupt law similar to her own.
But this rule does not prevail in the United States, either as regards a foreign assignee or an assignee under the laws of another state in the Union. The reason is
stronger for declining to give such efficacy to a receiver under a creditor's bill. And moreover, there was in this case a want of vigilance in the creditor and receiver by their omitting to proceed in the regular chancery practice against the person of the debtor, as above stated.
The dispute was about the same sum of money which was in controversy in the preceding case of Clark v. Clark.
Booth filed his bill in the circuit court, claiming the money in virtue of his character of receiver, appointed by the chancellor of the First Circuit in the State of New York. All the circumstances of the case are recited in the opinion of the Court.
On the 29th of March, 1853, the circuit court dismissed the bill, and Booth appealed to this Court.