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Metropolitan National Bank v. Claggett, 141 U.S. 520 (1891)

Metropolitan National Bank v. Claggett

No. 1064

Submitted October 19, 1891

Decided November 9, 1891

141 U.S. 520


When a state bank acting under a statute of the state calls in its circulation issued under state laws and becomes a national bank under the laws of the United States, and a judgment is recovered in a court of the state against the national bank upon such outstanding circulation, the defense of the state statute of limitations having been set up, a federal question arises which may give this Court jurisdiction in error.

The conversion of a state bank in New York into a national bank, under the act of the legislature of that state of March 9, 1865, N.Y.Laws of 1865, c. 97, did not destroy its identity or its corporate existence, nor discharge it as a national bank from its liability to holders of its outstanding circulation, issued in accordance with state laws.

The provisions in the statute of New York of April 11, 1859, Laws of 1859, c. 236, as to the redemption of circulating notes issued by a state bank and the release of the bank if the notes should not he presented within six years do not apply to a state bank converted into a national bank under the Act of March 9, 1865, and not "closing the business of banking."

The Court stated the case as follows:

This is a motion to dismiss a writ of error to the Supreme Court of the State of New York to review its judgment

Page 141 U. S. 521

against the plaintiff in error, with which is united a motion to affirm that judgment if the motion to dismiss be denied.

The case arose upon a complaint filed in the supreme court of New York June 4, 1886, by the defendant in error and another, as administrators of the goods, chattels, and credits of James H. Paine, deceased, against the plaintiff in error, the Metropolitan National Bank, demanding judgment against the latter for $12,300, and interest from May 21, 1886, that being the aggregate amount due on 84 bank bills issued by the Metropolitan Bank of New York, for the payment of which it was claimed that the plaintiff in error was liable. The complaint alleged that at the time of the issue of the bank bills sued upon, the Metropolitan Bank of New York was a state bank, duly organized and doing banking business under the law of the State of New York, having authority to issue such bills, and to put the same into circulation as money; that from 1858 to 1861 it issued each of the 84 bills therein described, and prior to 1862, for a valuable consideration, delivered the same to James H. Paine, the intestate of the plaintiffs; that the bills thereupon became his property, and remained in his ownership and possession until his death; that the plaintiffs, as administrators of his goods and effects, duly appointed and qualified, having become the owners and holders thereof, presented the same on the 21st of May, 1886, to the Metropolitan National Bank, the plaintiff in error, for payment, which was refused; that on the 14th of March, 1865, pursuant to the Act of Congress of June 3, 1864, and the Act of the legislature of New York of March 9, 1865, the said state bank became and still is a national bank for carrying on the business of banking under the name of the Metropolitan National Bank, and that, by virtue of the laws of the United States and its own voluntary action, the said Metropolitan National Bank, plaintiff in error, received and became vested with all the assets of the Metropolitan Bank of the state, and assumed and became liable to pay its obligations, including the bank bills described in said complaint.

Three defenses were set up in the answer to the complaint: (1) a denial that the plaintiff in error had at any time assumed

Page 141 U. S. 522

or, by any of its acts, become liable to pay the bills of the Metropolitan Bank of New York, which was a state bank doing business under the laws of the State of New York; (2) that in 1865, plaintiff in error became a national bank under the laws of Congress, doing the business of banking, as such, by virtue of the laws of the United States, under the corporate name of the Metropolitan National Bank, and that the Metropolitan Bank of New York (the state bank) went through certain proceedings, under the New York statutes, of notice, publication, and deposit with the superintendent of banking of that state, for the redemption of its circulating bills, on the ground of its closing business, whereby its liability and that of the plaintiff in error on these bills (they not being presented for payment in due time) ceased six years from March 14, 1867; (3) that the cause of action is barred by the statute of limitations of the State of New York.

The action being at issue upon the pleadings, and having come on for trial before the court without a jury, the parties having expressly waived a jury trial, the court made a finding of facts which substantially accorded with the averments of the complaint, and rendered judgment in favor of the plaintiff below, the defendant in error herein, for the sum of $12,300, and interest thereon from May 21, 1886, and costs. 4 N.Y.S. 115. This judgment was affirmed by the general term of the supreme court of New York, 10 N.Y.S. 165, and subsequently by the Court of Appeals of New York, 26 N.E. 757. Hence this writ of error. The defendant now moves to dismiss the writ on the ground that this Court has no jurisdiction to review the judgment of the state court of New York and that no federal question was raised or decided in the court below or appears upon the record.

[The material part of the statutes of New York referred to will be found in the margin. *]

Page 141 U. S. 526

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