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MAY v. HENDERSON

decided: April 13, 1925.

MAY, AS TRUSTEE IN BANKRUPTCY OF GEO. W. COWEN CO., INC., BANKRUPT
v.
HENDERSON, ET AL.



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

Taft, Holmes, Van Devanter, McReynolds, Brandeis, Sutherland, Butler, Sanford, Stone

Author: Stone

[ 268 U.S. Page 112]

 MR. JUSTICE STONE delivered the opinion of the Court.

This is a writ of certiorari to the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to review its action (reported 289 Fed. 192) on a petition to revise an order of the District Court confirming the order of a referee in bankruptcy, summarily directing the respondents to pay over a sum of money to the trustee in bankruptcy.

On September 15, 1920, prior to but within four months of the filing of the petition, the bankrupt made to respondents, Henderson and Scannell, a general assignment for the benefit of creditors. At the time of the assignment the assignor was indebted on a promissory note in the sum of $15,000 to the Fort Sutter National Bank, of which respondent Henderson was president, and in which the assignor carried a deposit account. The referee found, on sufficient evidence, that the respondents accepted the trust under the assignment to them and continued the business of the assignor until the appointment of the receiver in bankruptcy on November 4, 1920, the petition in bankruptcy having been filed on October 9, 1920. In the meantime, the deposit account of the assignor with the bank, with the knowledge and assent of the assignees, was changed from the names of the assignor to the names of the assignees, as "trustees," and further deposits were from time to time made by them to the

[ 268 U.S. Page 113]

     credit of the account, in the course of their management of the business of the assignor. The assignor was duly adjudicated a bankrupt and, thereafter, the trustee in bankruptcy petitioned the Bankruptcy Court for an order directing the respondents, as assignees, to account for and pay over all moneys received by them from the date of the assignment to the date of the appointment of the receiver. Proceedings on the petition resulted in the order of the District Court directing respondents to pay over the trustee an amount which would have stood to the credit of the assignees in their deposit account with the bank had the account not been closed in the following manner:

On September 30, 1920, ten days before the filing of the petition, the deposit account of the assignees with the bank was debited with the sum of $4,516.43, which amount was credited on the note of the bankrupt held by the bank, and on October 13, 1920, subsequent to the filing of the petition, and on various dates thereafter to and including October 25, 1920, further debits were made in the account which were credited on the note. These credits, including the first mentioned, amounted to the sum of $12,883.81, which was the amount directed to be paid over by respondents by order of the District Court. These debits and credits were made by direction of the respondent, Henderson, who throughout the period in question acted as one of the assignees and was also president of the bank. Although there was no explicit finding on the subject, the debits appear to have been made with the tacit assent of Scannell, the other assignee, who in any event appears to have left the management of the financial operations of the assignees to Henderson and made no objection or protest with respect to this use of the account standing to his credit as an assignee. We think that the finding of the Circuit Court of Appeals

[ 268 U.S. Page 114]

     that this application of the bank deposit on the note of the bankrupt constituted a "partial payment of the note as fully as if the assignees had given their check or withdrawn the money from the bank and paid it over the counter" is correct, and that both the assignees must be held legally responsible for this result. Where one of two co-trustees assents to a breach of trust by the other without objection, he is legally chargeable with liability for the breach. Bermingham v. Wilcox, 120 Cal. 467, 472; Adair v. Brimmer, 74 N. Y. 539; Matter of Niles, 113 N. Y. 547; Hill v. Hill, 79 N. J. Eq. 521.

The referee found that respondent Henderson was at all times from September 24, 1920, until the appointment of the receiver in bankruptcy, in control of the assignees' deposit account; and that he was the only officer of the bank who at any time exercised any control over the account, and that as president of the bank he at all times until the filing of the referee's report, had personal control of the funds deposited in the account; that the original ledger sheet of the bank showing the account standing in the names of the respondents as assignees, was destroyed by officials of the bank some time after the filing of the petition in bankruptcy and then an attempt was made to restore this account to the name of the bankrupt by rewriting the ledger sheets. He also found that on and after September 24, 1920, both the respondents and the Fort Sutter National Bank, which with respondents had on that date executed the creditors' agreement under which the assignment to respondents for the benefit of creditors was made, had actual knowledge of the insolvent condition of the bankrupt.

On the petition to revise, the Circuit Court of Appeals held that, when the money on deposit with the bank was applied on the note of the bankrupt, "the money passed into the possession and under the control of the bank and out of ...


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