Spofford v. Kirk
97 U.S. 484

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U.S. Supreme Court

Spofford v. Kirk, 97 U.S. 484 (1878)

Spofford v. Kirk

97 U.S. 484

Syllabus

A. employed B. to collect a claim against the United States. Before its allowance, or the issue of a warrant for its payment, he drew, in favor of C. an order on B. payable out of any moneys coming into his hands on account of said claim. B. accepted it, and D. became the holder of it in good faith and

for value. A. refused to recognize its validity after the warrant in his favor

had been issued, or to endorse the latter. D. thereupon filed his bill against A. and B. to enforce payment of the order.

Held:

1. That the order became, upon its acceptance and in the absence of any statutory prohibition, an equitable assignment pro tanto of the claim.

2. That under the Act of Feb. 26, 1863, 10 Stat. 170, reenacted in sec. 3477, Rev.Stat., the accepted order was void, and that D. took no interest in the claim, and acquired no lien upon the fund arising therefrom.

James B. Kirk employed Hosmer & Co. to prosecute his claim for $12,000 against the United States for supplies furnished to the army during the war of the rebellion and for damages sustained by reason of the military occupation of his property. Before the allowance of the claim, he drew upon that firm the following orders:

"CULPEPER COURT-HOUSE, VA."

"Jan. 14, 1873"

"Messrs. Hosmer & Co., of Washington City, D.C., will please pay to J. S. Wharton or order six hundred ($600) dollars out of whatever moneys may be coming into your hands for me for supplies furnished and damages sustained by the United States army during the war."

"JAMES B. KIRK."

"CULPEPER COURT-HOUSE, VA."

"Jan. 14, 1873"

"Messrs. Hosmer & Co., of Washington City, D. C., will please pay to E. R. Taylor, or order, six hundred ($600) dollars out of whatever moneys may be coming into your hands for me, for supplies furnished and damages sustained by the United States army during the war."

"JAMES B. KIRK."

Which were thereupon severally accepted by the drawees by writing across the face of the first as follows:

Page 97 U. S. 485

"WASHINGTON, Jan. 24, 1873"

"Accepted; payment to be made out of any moneys received by us from the United States on the claim of said James B. Kirk, and remaining in our hands, after deduction and payment of attorney's fees in the case."

"HOSMER & CO."

And of the second, as follows:

"Accepted; payment to be made out of any moneys received by us from the United States on the claim of said James B. Kirk and remaining after deduction and payment of our attorney's fees in the case, and also our acceptance of a similar order for the same amount in favor of Dr. J. S. Wharton."

"HOSMER & CO."

"Jan. 25, 1873"

The orders bearing said acceptances and endorsed by the respective payees, were in February, 1873, offered for sale to Ainsworth R. Spofford, who, on the written assurance of the drawees that Kirk had been allowed by the government something over $9,000, became the assignee or holder of both for value and in entire good faith.

Upon the issue of the treasury warrant for the sum awarded to Kirk, Spofford made demand upon Hosmer & Co. for the payment of the orders. Kirk having refused to endorse the warrant or to admit the validity of the orders, Spofford filed this bill to enforce compliance with said orders and acceptances and to enjoin Hosmer & Co. from surrendering and Kirk from receiving said warrant.

The court below dismissed the bill, whereupon Spofford appealed here.

Page 97 U. S. 487

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