Bank of the Republic v. Millard - 77 U.S. 152 (1869)
U.S. Supreme Court
Bank of the Republic v. Millard, 77 U.S. 10 Wall. 152 152 (1869)
Bank of the Republic v. Millard
77 U.S. (10 Wall.) 152
1. The holder of a bank check cannot sue the bank for refusing payment in the absence of proof that it was accepted by the bank or charged against the drawer.
2. The fact that the check was properly drawn on a national bank (a public depositary) by an officer of the government in favor of a public creditor does not alter this general rule.
Millard, a captain in the military service of the United States, was in 1865, on leaving the service, a creditor of the government for $859, arrears of pay as captain. In settlement of this account, the proper paymaster of the army drew and issued a check for that sum upon The national Bank of the Republic, a depositary of public moneys and financial agent of the United States, for the custody, transfer, and disbursement of the government funds, having funds for the payment of the check.
The bank, as testimony tended to show, had once paid the check on a forged endorsement of Millard's name. Ascertaining and exposing the forgery, and recovering possession of the check, Millard now presented the same, demanding
payment to himself. This payment the bank refused to make. Thereupon he sued it, declaring on a special count on the transaction, and also on a general count for money had and received by the bank to his use.
On the trial, the bank requested the court to charge,
"That unless the jury were satisfied from the evidence that it accepted the check in favor of the plaintiff, or his assignees, or promised to pay the same to the plaintiff, or his assignees, he was not entitled to recover."
But the court refused so to charge, and verdict and judgment having gone against the bank, it brought the case here on error, the questions here argued and considered being:
1st. The general one -- whether the holder of a bank check could sue the bank for refusing payment in the absence of proof that it was accepted by the bank or charged against the drawer.
2d. If not, whether the fact existing in this particular case, that the check was on a national bank (a public depositary of the government funds) by an officer of the government, in favor of a public creditor, varied the general rule.