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Opinion of the Court.

The statute of Missouri of March 28, 1874, affixing a heavy penalty to the negotiation or pledge of bills of lading or warehouse receipts by an agent, or consignee, without the written authority of the owner or consignor, does not change the law as to the validity of the transfer as between individuals. A transfer by an agent, that before was valid as between his principal and his transferee, is not invalidated by the statute. Gardner v. Gager, 1 Allen, 502. And with even stronger reason a transfer that was wholly invalid before is not rendered valid by being made a criminal offence. The proviso that any consignee or agent, lawfully possessed of a bill of lading or warehouse receipt, may pledge it to the extent of raising sufficient. means to pay charges for storage or shipment, or for advances drawn for by the owner or consignor, has no application to this case; because this pledge was not made for either of those purposes, but to secure the factors' own debt to the pledgee.

Factors having no power, by the law of Missouri, to make a pledge of the goods of their principals by a transfer, without indorsement in writing, of the bills of lading or warehouse receipts, the finding of the Circuit Court, that the transactions between the factors and the plaintiff "were all according to the general usage of trade between banks and cotton factors at St. Louis," cannot aid the plaintiff; because the usage attempted to be set up was not shown to have been known to the defendants or to other owners of cotton; and because it was contrary to law, in that it undertook to alter the nature of the contract between the factors and their principals, which authorizes them to sell, but not to pledge, and in that it would sustain a pledge by a factor of the goods of several principals to secure the payment of his own general balance of account to a third person. Barnard v. Kellogg, 10 Wall. 383; Irwin v. Williar, 110 U. S. 499; Newbold v. Wright, 4 Rawle, 195; Lehman v. Marshall, 47 Alabama, 362; Leuckart v. Cooper, 3 Bing. N. C. 99; S. C. 3 Scott, 521, and 2 Hodges, 150; Robinson v. Mollett, L. R. 7 H. L. 802.

Nor is the further fact found, that Dowell, the active member of the firm of J. H. Dowell & Co., the factors, was also a partner with the defendants in the working of the plantation,

Opinion of the Court.

at all material; because he had not been held out by the defendants as the owner of the property, or as authorized by them to dispose of it otherwise than as a factor, and was not understood by the plaintiff to be acting in any other capacity. Rogers v. Batchelor, 12 Pet. 221; Locke v. Lewis, 124 Mass. 1.

Although the general relation of a bank to its depositor is that of debtor and creditor, yet when, as in this case, a factor, holding property in trust for his principal, transfers it to a bank which has notice of the capacity in which he holds it, the principal may assert his right in the property against the bank, either by independent suit, or by way of defence to an action by the bank against him. The defendants in this case were therefore entitled to have the proceeds of their property, so received by the plaintiff, applied to the payment of the note in suit. National Bank v. Insurance Co., 104 U. S. 54; Baker v. New York Bank, 100 N. Y. 31; St. Louis Bank v. Ross, 9 Missouri App. 399. As those proceeds are found to have been more than sufficient to pay and satisfy this note and all other charges of the factors against the defendants, the plaintiff cannot maintain this action.

All the facts of the case being ascertained by the special finding of the court below, as they would be by the special verdict of a jury, there is no reason for awarding a new trial, but there must be a general judgment for the defendants. Fort Scott v. Hickman, 112 U. S. 150.

Judgment reversed, and case remanded to the Circuit Court, with directions to enter judgment for the original defendants.

Opinion of the Court.



Submitted December 20, 1886. Decided January 17, 1887.

When the defendant in an action at law denies each and every allegation in the declaration, and puts the plaintiff on his proof, it is not error to order stricken from the answer special defences which may be set up under this general denial.

It has been settled by this court in Davenport v. Dodge County, 105 U. S. 237, and Blair v. Cuming County, 111 U. S. 363, that coupons like those sued on in this case are obligations of the county, and that an action may be maintained against the county upon them.

THIS was an action at law against a county to enforce the payment of coupons on bonds issued by the county. case is stated in the opinion of the court.


Mr. John M. Thurston, Mr. J. S. Stull, and Mr. Walter J. Lamb, for plaintiff in error.

Mr. J. M. Woolworth for defendant in error.

MR. JUSTICE MATTHEWS delivered the opinion of the court.

This is an action at law brought by Augustus Frank, a citizen of the state of New York, for the purpose of enforcing the payment of the interest coupons on certain municipal bonds alleged to have been issued by the county of Nemaha, on behalf of Brownville precinct in said county, to aid in the construction of the Brownville, Fort Kearney and Pacific Railroad, in pursuance of an act of the legislature of the state of Nebraska. The petition alleges, that, by virtue of an act entitled "An act to enable counties, cities, and precincts to borrow money on their bonds, or to issue bonds to aid in the construction or completion of works of internal improvement in this state, and to legalize bonds already issued for such pur

Opinion of the Court.

poses," passed on the 15th day of February, 1869, the board of commissioners of the county of Nemaha issued the special bonds or written obligations of said Brownville precinct, on the 20th day of August, 1870, to aid in the construction of the Brownville, Fort Kearney and Pacific Railroad, and delivered the same to the company authorized to construct said road; that prior to the issue of said bonds the proposition to issue the same was duly submitted to the voters of said Brownville precinct, in strict accordance with the provisions of the said act of the legislature, and that a large majority voted for said proposition; that, during the years 1871 and 1872, the said Brownville precinct and the board of county commissioners duly paid the coupons then falling due by means of a tax levied for that purpose, but for the years 1878 and 1879 they have failed and refused to pay the same or to levy a tax therefor. The petition also alleges, that, on or about the 20th of February, 1871, for a valuable consideration, the bonds and coupons were transferred in good faith to John Fitzgerald, and by him to the plaintiff.

An answer was filed by Nemaha County, as defendant, containing the following matter:

"The total amount of the bonds so issued and sold, being one series, under one proposition, amounted to one hundred thousand dollars. The said bonds and coupons were voted upon the following contract and conditions and none other: At the time of the vote for said bonds certain persons were attempting to organize a railroad corporation under the name of the Brownville, Fort Kearney and Pacific Railroad Company, the identical same organization named in said bonds, with a capital stock of two million dollars, but were unable to organize it because unable to obtain a payment on said amount of stock of ten per cent. thereof, as required by law, precedent to the right to do business; they considered and treated said series of one hundred thousand in bonds as one one-hundredthousand-dollar cash subscription all paid up in cash in advance, and, also, they treated and considered bonds of the city of Brownville, situated within the said precinct of Brownville mentioned in the petition, of the nominal sum of sixty thou

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Opinion of the Court.

sand dollars, as sixty thousand dollars cash subscription paid up in cash in advance, all as capital stock of said railroad company, aggregating one hundred and sixty thousand dollars, so considered and treated as cash capital stock paid in; but, by considering the said bonds of the nominal sum of $160,000 as one hundred and sixty thousand dollars in money paid in on the capital stock, there was still an insufficient amount paid in to enable the company to do business, there being no cash paid in except on a few private subscriptions, and not exceeding ten thousand dollars, so that even by treating said bonds as money there was still a deficiency of thirty thousand dollars of the amount prescribed by law as a condition precedent to the organization of the company for the purpose of transacting any of the business for which it was sought to be organized. Defendant, therefore, denies that said railroad company was ever a corporation with power to transact business or to receive municipal bonds for its aid.

"Defendant, therefore, avers that neither said precinct nor said county had any power or authority to aid in the organization of said railroad company by subscribing to its stock or in any other manner. Defendant further avers, that said pretended railroad company never either filed or recorded its articles of incorporation, if any it ever had, in any county in the state of Nebraska, as by law it was compelled to do prior to its existence as a corporation.

"In the transactions of issuing said bonds by defendant and of receiving the same by said pretended railroad company, neither the defendant nor the said company had any power to act, and all the acts therein on both sides are and ever have been ultra vires and null and void.

"The proposition submitted to the voters of said precinct as a basis of the right to issue said bonds was a proposition to subscribe by said precinct one hundred thousand dollars in stock and shares in the capital stock of said pretended railroad company, and pay the same in bonds aforesaid.

“The total assessed valuation of all the property in the said precinct, as shown by the last assessment preceding the issuing of said bonds, was $920,000, and the issue of $100,000 in bonds was in excess of the amount allowed by law."

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