Zantzingers v. Gunton,
86 U.S. 32 (1873)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Zantzingers v. Gunton, 86 U.S. 19 Wall. 32 32 (1873)

Zantzingers v. Gunton

86 U.S. (19 Wall.) 32


Although a bank by statute, or the trustees, on the expiration thereof, who liquidate its affairs, may be deprived of power to take or hold real estate, this does not prevent either's making an arrangement through the medium of a trustee, by which, without ever having a legal title,

Page 86 U. S. 33

control, or ownership of such estate, they yet secure a debt for which they had a lien on such estate, and have the estate sold so as to pay the debt.

2. A bill against a trustee for an account dismissed on a case stated.

In the year 1844, the charter of the Bank of Washington, in the city of that name, being about to expire, and its affairs to pass into the hands of William Gunton, its late president, and certain other persons as trustees, to wind them up to the best advantage, and the bank having a debt of some amount due to it from Daniel Carroll, for which it had a lien on several lots in Washington already previously encumbered, Gunton, in behalf of the bank, requested a certain William Fisher there, with whom he was on terms of much intimacy, to become the purchaser, as agent of the bank, of the lots; Gunton promising to save him from any loss. Fisher consented to become the purchaser in the way mentioned. The bank accordingly furnished the requisite funds, about $6,065.84, to Fisher, who gave his note therefor, and he bought the lots, a conveyance of them being made to him. Subsequently to this, the charter of the bank having now expired, Fisher and wife made a conveyance of them by deed to Gunton. This conveyance was declared to be in trust to secure the payment of the note of William Fisher for $6,065.84 at sixty days, payable to his own order; and it authorized a sale of the property for that purpose, and directed the trustee to pay the balance, if there should be any, as the grantor might by further instrument in writing direct. Fisher afterwards did by a formal instrument, under seal, direct that after the sale of all the lots, and the payment of the note and interest and the costs of the trusts, including compensation to the trustee, any remainder should be paid to the trustees of the bank.

In this state of things, certain persons of the name of Zantzinger, related to Fisher, and who had become through

Page 86 U. S. 34

the dispositions of his will owners of all real estate which he left at his death, filed a bill against Gunton setting forth that Fisher had given a note for $6,065.84 to the bank, and had conveyed these lots to Gunton, the president of its trustees, to secure it; that Gunton had never settled any account, and that they had no knowledge whether the note had been paid or what disposition had been made of the lots conveyed as security, and praying an account &c.

The bill made no kind of reference to the instrument of appointment above-mentioned as having been executed by Fisher, by which he directed that after the sale of the lots and payment of the note &c., any remainder should be paid to the trustees of the bank.

The answer set up as defense the history of the matter as above given, and especially that Fisher had by formal instrument of appointment, produced, directed that any surplus left after paying his note should be paid to the trustees.

Proof was taken, including testimony of Gunton himself, which if believed established, of itself, the defense. The court below dismissed the bill, and from that, its action, the complainants took this appeal.

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