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Stephens v. Monongahela Bank, 111 U.S. 197 (1884)

Stephens v. Monongahela Bank

Argued March 17, 1884

Decided March 31, 1884

111 U.S. 197


The defense of another action pending can only be set up by plea in abatement, and the action below upon the plea is not subject to review. The dictum in Piquignot v. Pennsylvania Railroad, 16 How. 104, cited and approved.

The remedy given by Rev.Stat. § 5198 for the recovery of usurious interest paid to a national bank is exclusive. Barnet v. National Bank, 98 U. S. 555; Farmers' & Mechanics' Bank v. Dearing, 91 U. S. 29, and Driesbach v. National Bank, 104 U. S. 52, cited and approved.

In an action by a national bank against a surety upon a note to recover the amount of the note, the surety has no right to have usurious interest paid by the principal in discounts and renewals of the note applied to the payment of the principal.

This suit was brought by the Monongahela National Bank of Brownsville, Pennsylvania, and judgment was given against Barzilla Stephens, the defendant, for want of a sufficient affidavit of defense. The grounds of defense as set forth in the affidavit were:

1. That another suit was pending in the Court of Common Pleas of Green County, Pennsylvania, between the same parties for the same identical cause of action.

2. That the original of the note in suit was discounted and taken by the bank on the 27th of June, 1871; that the money advanced thereon at the time was only $8,434.65; that the loan was renewed by six subsequent notes, the last being the note in suit; that upon such loan and each of the renewals, the bank "knowingly took, received, reserved, and charged" usurious interest amounting in the aggregate to $3,736.50; that the defendant is only surety for Israel Stephens, the maker of the note, and that the defendant is entitled to set off the amount of the "interest so knowingly taken, received, reserved, and charged by the bank . . . against the money loaned on the original of the note in suit."

3. That the bank had knowingly taken, received, reserved

Page 111 U. S. 198

and charged at various times discount and interest, in excess of the amount permitted by its fundamental law on other loans to the principal debtor, amounting in the aggregate to $6,773.10, which was a proper setoff against the claim in this suit.

4. That the paper on which the note sued on was written was signed in blank by the parties thereto when it was taken to the bank for the purposes of renewal; that no one had authority to fill the blanks for anything else than the exact amount due on the original note after deducting all payments, and that it was filled by an officer of the bank for the sum of $9,500 when, in view of the usury taken, less than $6,000 was due.

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