Bowerman v. Hamner,
250 U.S. 504 (1919)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Bowerman v. Hamner, 250 U.S. 504 (1919)

Bowerman v. Hamner

No. 289

Argued April 28, 29, 1919

Decided June 9, 1919

250 U.S. 504


In addition to the specific duties defined in the National Banking Law, a director of a national bank is under a common law obligation, to depositors and shareholders as well as to borrowers, to exercise at least ordinary care and prudence in the supervision and administration of the bank's affairs. P. 250 U. S. 510.

While knowledge may be essential to render a director liable as for a breach of a duty specially imposed by the statute, this does not prevent application of the common law rule in measuring violations of common law duties. P. 250 U. S. 511.

Both kinds of liability may be asserted in one bill of complaint. Id.

A director of a national bank who willfully fails to attend the meetings

Page 250 U. S. 505

of the board of directors and otherwise to inform himself of the condition of the bank and to supervise its affairs is guilty of a breach of his common law obligation, and liable for losses resulting from gross mismanagement by the executive officers which a proper attention to his duties might have avoided. P. 250 U. S. 513.

The fact that the director resides at a distance from the location of the bank does not excuse him from this responsibility. P. 250 U. S. 514.

Where a director of a national bank, charged in the same bill with both statutory and common law liability, secured a dismissal of the bill on the plaintiff's proofs without introducing any evidence of his own, and the circuit court of appeals reversed the case and directed a decree against him on the ground that the common law liability was established, held that the defendant was not entitled to a new trial of that issue upon the ground that the case in the district court had been treated as involving only the statutory liability. Id.

Under Rev.Stats. § 5145, a director of a national bank remains responsible as such in the absence of evidence that he has resigned or refused to qualify when reelected. Id.

241 F. 737 affirmed.

The case is stated in the opinion.

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