Mayer v. Hellman,
91 U.S. 496 (1875)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Mayer v. Hellman, 91 U.S. 496 (1875)

Mayer v. Hellman

91 U.S. 496


An assignment by an insolvent debtor of his property to trustees for the equal and common benefit of all his creditors is not fraudulent, and when executed six months before proceedings in bankruptcy are taken against the debtor, is not assailable by the assignee in bankruptcy subsequently appointed, and the assignee is not entitled to the possession of the property from the trustees.

The plaintiff in the court below is assignee in bankruptcy of Bogen and others, appointed in proceedings instituted against them in the District Court of the United States for the Southern District of Ohio; the defendants are assignees of the same

Page 91 U. S. 497

parties under the assignment law of the state of Ohio, and the present suit is brought to obtain possession of property which passed to the latter under the assignment to them. The facts as disclosed by the record, so far as they are material for the disposition of the case, are briefly these:

On the 3d of December, 1873, at Cincinnati, Ohio, George Bogen and Jacob Bogen, composing the firm of G. & J. Bogen, and the same parties with Henry Mueller, composing the firm of Bogen & Son, by deed executed of that date, individually and as partners, assigned certain property held by them, including that in controversy, to three trustees, in trust for the equal and common benefit of all their creditors. The deed was delivered upon its execution, and the property taken possession of by the assignees.

By the law of Ohio in force at the time, when an assignment of property is made to trustees for the benefit of creditors, it is the duty of the trustees, within ten days after the delivery of the assignment to them and before disposing of any of the property, to appear before the probate judge of the county in which the assignors reside, produce the original assignment, or a copy thereof, and file the same in the probate court, and enter into an undertaking payable to the state, in such sum and with such sureties as may be approved by the judge, conditioned for the faithful performance of their duties.

In conformity with this law, the trustees, on the 13th of December, 1873, within the prescribed ten days, appeared before the probate judge of the proper county in Ohio, produced the original assignment, and filed the same in the probate court. One of the trustees having declined to act, another one was named in his place by the creditors and appointed by the court. Subsequently the three gave an undertaking with sureties approved by the judge, in the sum of $500,000, for the performance of their duties, and then proceeded with the administration of the trust under the direction of the court.

On the 22d of June of the following year, more than six months after the execution of the assignment, the petition in bankruptcy against the insolvents was filed in the district court of the United States, initiating the proceedings in which the plaintiff was appointed their assignee in bankruptcy. As

Page 91 U. S. 498

such officer, he claims a right to the possession of the property in the hands of the defendants under the assignment to them. Judgment having been rendered against them, they sued out this writ of error.

Page 91 U. S. 500

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