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BABBITT V. DUTCHER, 216 U. S. 102 (1910)

U.S. Supreme Court

Babbitt v. Dutcher, 216 U.S. 102 (1910)

Babbitt v. Dutcher

No. 39

Argued November 29, 1909

Decided February 21, 1910

216 U.S. 102


Corporate record and stock-books of a corporation adjudicated a bankrupt pass to the trustee and, where there is no adverse holding, the bankruptcy court can compel their delivery by summary proceeding.

In a case in which the original court of bankruptcy can act summarily, another court of bankruptcy, sitting in another district, can do so in aid of the court of original jurisdiction.

The Randolph-Macon Coal Company was a Missouri corporation, and was duly adjudicated a bankrupt March 26, 1907, in proceedings instituted in the District Court of the United States, in and for the Eastern Division of the Eastern Judicial District of Missouri. Byron F. Babbitt was duly appointed trustee in bankruptcy for the corporation May 10, 1907, and duly qualified by giving bond on that day.

He thereafter made demand upon the president of the company for the delivery to him of the corporate records and stock books of the bankrupt company, which were kept in the office maintained by the company in New York City. This request was refused by letter of the president of the company, dated September 24, 1907, in which he says that he is advised

"that such records and stock books are not documents relating to the property of the bankrupt, and therefore you, as trustee in bankruptcy, are not entitled to their possession."

Thereupon the trustee made application to the District Court in and for the Southern District of New York, by petition,

Page 216 U. S. 103

for an order directing James T. Gardiner, the president, and Howard Dutcher, the secretary, of the company, or either of them, to deliver to him the stock-certificate book, the corporation minute book, and the stock register of said company, together with all other records and documents belonging to said company, in their possession or under their control. Gardiner and Dutcher were within the jurisdiction of the District Court for the Southern District of New York, and the books and papers referred to were within their custody there, and the trustee alleged that the stock-certificate book, the corporation minute book, and the stock register book were necessary to the trustee in his administration and settlement of the affairs of the company.

Thereafter, a hearing was had on the petition, the order to show cause, and return thereto, and the district judge (Holt, J.) indorsed on the petition: "I am obliged to deny this motion on the authority of In re Von Hartz, 142 F. 726," and ordered that the motion be denied on the ground that the court was without jurisdiction to entertain the proceeding or to grant the relief prayed for, and the district judge also certified that the order denying the motion and refusing to grant the relief was based solely on the ground that the court was without jurisdiction

"to entertain proceedings instituted by a trustee in bankruptcy duly appointed in a bankruptcy proceeding pending in another district, to compel the officers of the bankrupt to deliver to such trustee the documents in their possession relating to the business of the bankrupt."

This appeal was then allowed and duly prosecuted

Page 216 U. S. 105

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