Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Opinion of the Court.

using this language, as to the extent of the warranty, the mind was directed to that form of non-existence which more commonly obtains, and the expression is a mere illustration of the rule de eo quod plerumque fit. If this were a case where a vendee claimed to recover back the price paid by him on a purchase of negotiable securities, which pass by delivery from hand to hand, on the averment that after the sale it had developed that they were not valid (although not forgeries), because the law under which they had been issued was constitutionally void or ultra vires, the claim of implied warranty of existence would be without merit, for the reason that such a state of fact would present a case of a sale of securities whether valid or invalid, hence engendering no implication of warranty of existence. Under the state of facts thus supposed, the purpose of the parties to make a contract of that nature would legally result from the fact that they were both necessarily equally chargeable with notice of want of power, and therefore would be both presumed to have acted with reference to such knowledge. This is Otis v. Cullum. But it is not the case at bar, since it is here admitted that both parties, in entering into the contract of sale, contemplated valid securities, of which there were many outstanding, and those delivered were void, not because of a want of power to enact the law under which they were issued, or because they were ultra vires for some other legal canse, but because they were stricken with nullity by a constitutional provision adopted after the act authorizing the issue of the securities, and where nothing on the face of the bonds indicated that they were illegal. The distinction pointed out by the foregoing statement not only illustrates the correctness of the decision in Otis v. Cullum, but also demonstrates the error of attempting to extend it to the state of facts presented in the case under consideration. Indeed, in examining and applying Otis v. Cullum the fact that it does not control a case like this has been recognized. Daniel, Neg. Inst. $ 734a; Rogers v. Walsh, supra; Cincinnati, New Orleans &o. Railway v. Citizens' Na tional Bank, 24 Week. Law Bull., (Ohio) 198, 211.

The foregoing analysis of the principles and review of the

Opinion of the Court

authorities governing the law of sale of negotiable paper, transferred without recourse, as between vendor and vendee, clearly demonstrates the unsoundness of the positions upon 'which the defendant in error relies, since it affirmatively establishes that there is no peculiar warranty, in a sale of commercial paper, and that the reasoning by which it is attempted to prove its existence is a mere misconception of the principles of the common law relating to the sale of goods and chattels.

In passing, however, it is worthy of note that whilst the civil law enforces in the contract of sale generally the broadest obligation of warranty, it has so narrowed it, when dealing with credits and incorporeal rights, as to confine it to the title of the seller and to the existence of the credit sold, and, e con verso, the common law, which restricts warranty within a narrow compass, virtually imposes the same duty by broadening the warranty as regards personal property so as to impose the obligation on the vendor to deliver the thing sold as a condition of the principal contract or by implication of warranty as to the identity of the thing sold. By these processes of reasoning the two great systems, whilst apparently divergent in principle practically work substantially to the same salutary conclusions.

There are many questions discussed in the brief of counsel which we do not notice, and which we content ourselves with saying are without merit. The views above stated are controlling and decisive of the case and lead necessarily to the reversal of the judgment. As the case was heard upon a stipulation waiving a jury and upon an agreed statement of facts, it is our duty, in reversing, to direct that the proper judgment be entered below. Fort Scott v. Hickman, 112 U. S. 150, and cases there cited.

It follows that
The judgment of the Circuit Court must be reversed, and

the case be remanded with directions to enter judgment for
plaintiffs for eight thousand three hundred and eighty-
three dollars and seventy-five cents ($8383.75) with interest
from judicial demand and costs.

Opinion of the Court.

BANK OF COMMERCE v. TENNESSEE, for the use of

MEMPHIS.

BANK OF COMMEROE V. TENNESSEE AND SHELBY

COUNTY.

PETITION FOR REHEARING.

Nos. 668, 669. Becalved May 7, 1896. — Decided May 25, 1896.

The mandates in these cases (161 U. S. 184,) are recalled, and so much of

the judgment of the state court as permits & recovery against the holders of the old stock in the bank is reversed; and the judgment, so far as it permits a recovery for taxes assessed against the holders of the new sbares in the bank, is afirmed.

PETITIONS for rehearing. The case is stated in the opinion.

Mr. S. P. Walker and Mr. C. W. Metcalf for petitioners.

Mr. R. J. Morgan, Mr. T. B. Turley and Mr. William H. Carroll, opposing.

MR. JUSTIOE PEOKHAM delivered the opinion of the court.

This is a petition for a rehearing of some of the questions heretofore decided in these cases. A decision was rendered in them a short time ago, and a portion of the judgment in each case was reversed, and the cases remanded to the Supreme Court of Tennessee for further proceedings therein. 161 U.S. 134. Application is now made on the part of the defendants in error in each case for a rehearing of the same upon the question of the jurisdiction of this court to review the decision of the state court in regard to the exemption from taxation of the so called new stock, being stock that was issued since the adoption of the constitution of 1870. Leave was given both parties to submit briefs upon the question of jurisdiction, as also upon the merits of the question sought to be reviewed.

Opinion of the Court.

Such briefs have been received, and we proceed to decide the question.

The bank was chartered in 1856 under the name of the Chattanooga Savings Institution, which name was subsequently changed to the Bank of Commerce, and its place of business moved to Memphis. In the charter was contained the following clause : "Said institution shall have a lien on the stock for debts due it by the stockholders before and in preference to other creditors, except the State for taxes, and sball pay to the State an annual tax of one half of one per cent on each share of the capital stock, which shall be in lieu of all other taxes.” On the day of the adoption of the new constitution, May 5, 1870, the capital stock of this institution was $200,000. The second section of the charter contains this provision : "The capital stock of said company shall be divided into shares of $50 each, and when 200 shares have been subscribed and the sum of one dollar per share paid therein, the shareholders may meet and elect five directors." By section 4 it is provided that "it may receive on deposit any and all sums not less than one dollar per week offered as stock deposits; . . . and when such deposits amount to $50 it may at the option of the depositor become stock in the institution."

It appears that on sundry days prior to June 1, 1887, the capital stock of the bank bad been regularly increased under this provision in its charter to $600,000, and on the 17th of March, 1890, and on sundry days prior to June 1, 1890, it was again regularly increased to $1,000,000. There was no maximum capital fixed in the charter. In 1870, while the capital stock of the bank stood at $200,000, the new constitution of the State was adopted, which provided for the taxation of all property, which provision would iuclude the shares issued since 1870, if they are not protected by the exemption clause in the charter above quoted.

These saits were brought by the defendants in error against the bank and the shareholders for the purpose of recovering the amount of taxes wbich had been assessed for several years then last past against the parties defendant, the bank and the

VOL. CLXII-27

Opinion of the Court.

shareholders. In the actions it was sought to recover either against the bank on its capital stock or against the shareholders by virtue of their ownership of the shares of the capital stock. It was not contended that both were liable to pay the tax, but that one or the other should be held liable. A single stockholder was chosen to represent the stockholders generally, and he was one of the holders of what may be termed the new shares- that is, shares issued since the adoption of the constitution of 1870. This was done under an arrangement between the parties so that all the stockholders need not be made parties to the action.

The answer of the plaintiffs in error, the bank and the stockholders, claimed a total exemption from all taxation, both on the part of the bank and shareholders excepting the tax pro vided for in the charter. Thus the claim of the State was that the bank or all the sharebolders were taxable under the provisions of the general tax laws of the State, and it left it to the court to say which were thus taxable. But the State also claimed that if the old shares of stock were not taxable, the new shares issued after 1870 were taxable, as they came into existence after the constitution provided for the taxation of all property, and they were not subject to the exemption clause contained in the charter of the bank. So the question submitted to the state court was, which of these two classes sball be taxed; or, if the old shareholders are not to be taxed, can the new sbareholders be taxed. The Supreme Court of the State held that all the shareholders, both old and new, were proper subjects of taxation; that the exemption clause in the charter did not apply to either, but it applied to the capital stock of the bank, and judgment was therefore decreed for a recovery against all the shareholders of both old and new stock for taxes assessed under the general taxation laws of the State. In the course of the opinion delivered by one of the learned judges of the state court, which was concurred in by the majority, it was stated that there was no difference between the rights of the shareholders of the old and the new stock with reference to the right of exemption from taxation under the charter clause; that if the old shares were exempt

« AnteriorContinuar »