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HOLMES V. GOLDSMITH, 147 U. S. 150 (1893)

U.S. Supreme Court

Holmes v. Goldsmith, 147 U.S. 150 (1893)

Holmes v. Goldsmith

No. 93

Argued December 14-15, 1892

Decided January 9.1893

147 U.S. 150


The maker of a promissory note signed it entirely for the benefit of the payee, who was really the party for whose use it was made. The maker and the payee were citizens of the same state. A citizen of another state discounted the note, and paid full consideration for it to the payee, who endorsed it to him. The note not being paid at maturity, the endorsee, who had not parted with it, brought suit upon it against that maker in the Circuit Court of the United States. Held that the court had jurisdiction, notwithstanding the provision in the Act of August 13,

Page 147 U. S. 151

1888, 2b Stat. 433, 434, c. 866, that such court shall not have cognizance of a suit to recover the contents of a promissory note in favor of an assignee or subsequent holder unless such suit might have been prosecuted in such court if no assignment had been made.

When the genuineness of a paper sued on is put in issue, papers not otherwise competent may be introduced in Oregon for the purpose of enabling the jury to make a comparison of handwritings.

A witness who has sworn to the genuineness of a disputed signature to a note may be further asked if he would act upon it if it came to him in an ordinary business transaction.

The admission of evidence of a collateral fact which might have been rejected by the trial court without committing error does not constitute error which will of itself justify reversal of the judgment below if the case of the plaintiff in error was not injured by it.

This was an action brought by L. Goldsmith and Max Goldsmith, doing business as partners under the name of L. Goldsmith & Co., citizens of the State of New York, against M. B. Holmes, John Dillard, and R. Phipps, citizens of the State of Oregon, as makers of a promissory note, in the words and figures following:

"$10,000 Portland, Oregon, Aug. 9, 1886"

"Six months after date, without grace, we, or either of us, promise to pay to the order of W. F. Owens ten thousand dollars, for value received, with interest from date at the rate of ten percent per annum until paid, principal and interest payable in U.S. gold coin at the First National Bank of Portland, Oregon, and in case suit is instituted to collect this note, or any portion thereof, we promise to pay such additional sum as the court may adjudge reasonable as attorneys' fees in said suit."

"M. B. Holmes"

"John Dillard."

"R. Phipps"

On the day of its date, W. F. Owens endorsed the note, waived, in writing, demand, notice, and protest, delivered the note, so endorsed, to the agent of the plaintiffs, and received the sum of ten thousand dollars.

Page 147 U. S. 152

The complaint alleged that the transaction was a loan by plaintiffs to W. F. Owens; that the defendants executed the note for the accommodation of Owens, to enable him to procure the loan thereon, and that Owens was in fact a maker of said note to the plaintiffs, and never himself had any cause of action thereon against the defendants.

To this complaint the defendants demurred on the ground that it did not bring the case within the jurisdiction of the circuit court, and did not state facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action.

Upon argument, this demurrer was overruled. 36 F. 484.

The defendants answered, denying the execution of the note and knowledge of the other facts alleged in the complaint. At the trial, a verdict was given in favor of the plaintiffs for the amount of the note, with interest from date, and on June 19, 1889, judgment was entered on the verdict, in favor of the plaintiffs and against the defendants for the amount of the note, with interest and with costs and disbursements.

A writ of error was duly sued out and allowed, and the case brought into this Court for review.

Page 147 U. S. 156

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