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MITCHELL v. FIRST NATIONAL BANK CHICAGO.

decided: March 5, 1901.

MITCHELL
v.
FIRST NATIONAL BANK OF CHICAGO.



CERTIORARI TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SECOND CIRCUIT.

Author: Harlan

[ 180 U.S. Page 471]

 MR. JUSTICE HARLAN delivered the opinion of the court. This is a suit upon a written guaranty held by the First National Bank of Chicago. It was signed in Connecticut by H. Drusilla Mitchell, she being a married woman, and by others, and was delivered in Chicago to the bank under circumstances presently to be stated.

The Circuit Court held that the liability of Mrs. Mitchell should be determined by the laws of Connecticut. The Circuit Court of Appeals adjudged that as the writing was delivered to the bank in Illinois, Mrs. Mitchell's liability was determinable by the laws of that State.

The case, however, presents the further question whether the precise matter in issue -- the liability of Mrs. Mitchell notwithstanding her coverture at the time the guaranty was signed -- was not adjudicated against the bank in the courts of Connecticut prior the the final judgment in the present case; and if so,

[ 180 U.S. Page 472]

     whether the bank was concluded by that adjudication, which remains unmodified.

The case as presented by the pleadings and by the agreed facts set forth in a written stipulation of the parties is this:

In 1891 and prior thereto the firm of Morse, Mitchell & Williams, composed of Francis E. Morse, Frederick C. Williams and George H. Mitchell, (the latter being the husband of H. Drusilla Mitchell,) was engaged in mercantile and real estate business at Chicago, Illinois, and kept an account with the First National Bank of that city.

The firm became indebted to the bank in the sum of $20,000 or more, as evidenced by its notes. The bank agreed to continue giving it credit upon the condition that the firm and its individual members, together with Mrs. Mitchell, would execute a certain paper which it had directed to be prepared.

Mitchell and his wife at the time resided in Connecticut, and did not have a residence elsewhere after their marriage, which occurred in 1857. He took the paper prepared by the bank and brought it to his residence in Connecticut and there procured his wife to sign the same, and it was thereafter by him enclosed, addressed and sent by mail to Morse in Chicago, who delivered the paper to the bank.

The paper referred to was signed by Morse, Mitchell & Williams, Francis E. Morse, Frederick C. Williams, G. H. Mitchell, and H. Drusilla Mitchell, and was as follows: "We hereby request the First National Bank of Chicago to give and continue to Morse, Mitchell & Williams credit as they may desire from time to time, and in consideration of all and any such credit given we hereby guarantee any and all indebtedness now due or which may hereafter become due from them to said bank, to the extent of thirty thousand dollars, and waive notice of the acceptance of this guaranty and of any and all indebtedness at any time covered by the same. This guaranty shall continue until written notice from us of the discontinuance thereof shall be received by said The First National Bank of Chicago. Chicago, Ill., Feb. 20th, 1891."

The bank continued to extend credit to Morse, Mitchell & Williams until the firm became insolvent and made an assignment

[ 180 U.S. Page 473]

     for the benefit of its creditors on the 30th day of July, 1893. At the time of such insolvency and assignment it held and owned the notes of Morse, Mitchell & Williams; renewals of unpaid portions of the above-mentioned notes, for $16,500; a note of Elizabeth Ewing endorsed by that firm; also notes of F. E. Morse & Son, with whom George H. Mitchell had no connection.

It appears that on the 28th day of December, 1893, Mrs. Mitchell notified the executor of her father that she had assigned and transferred to the bank all of her right, title and interest in so much of the testator's estate as was then undistributed, and authorized such executor to pay to the bank all money and property coming to her or to which she was entitled from that estate.

The present action was brought by the bank in the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of Connecticut on the 30th day of December, 1895, against Mrs. Mitchell and her husband. The complaint alleged that in reliance upon and in consideration of the above guaranty and promise, the bank had extended credit and advanced money to Morse, Mitchell & Williams from time to time and within the period ...


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