Lapas attēli
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

strong, and from that time until the mortgage was made he continued to loan him money in amounts varying from $20,000 to a few thousand dollars at a time, and to renew old loans until, on May 2, 1904, Armstrong owed him upon his promissory notes $98,503.32, and was overdrawn about $2,000 in his bank. The debtor had the reputation of being one of the wealthiest men in Carroll county. He held the title to 2,440 acres of land in that county, to 616)/2 acres in Monona county, to a residence in the town of Glidden, for which he paid about $12,000, to 200 or 300 cattle, some 30 horses, a large number of hogs, and some farm machinery. There were mortgages upon some of these lands, but they amounted to but a small proportion of the value of the real estate. In July, 1903, Armstrong had made a statement to Arts in which he estimated the value of his property at $220,000 and mentioned one mortgage for $5,900. The capital of Arts' bank was $50,000 and he had loaned to Armstrong this $98,503.32 without any security. In March and April, 1904, Arts became very seriously ill, and F. H. Arts, one of his sons, who was in business in Nebraska, was called home to attend him in his illness. While he was at Carroll, he and W. A. Arts, the cashier, examined the loans made by their father, and he suggested that as the loan to Armstrong was very large, and the facts regarding it might soon be discovered, the interests of the bank demanded that this loan should be secured. One of the sons then telephoned to Armstrong who lived several miles distant, and asked him to come to the bank. He came the next morning, and they expressed their wish to him and the reason for it. He returned to his home, sent them his tax receipts, they caused the mortgage to be drawn, and four or five days later, on May 2, 1904, he and his wife came in and executed it. On the next day Arts recorded it. At the time it was recorded Arts requested the recorder not to enter the mortgage upon a book which he kept for the convenience of newsmongers, but which was not one of the legal records of the county, and the recorder complied with his request. At the time this mortgage was made Armstrong was overdrawn in the bank about $2,000, and no security was taken for this overdraft, nor was it paid. Armstrong continued to draw checks upon the bank, and during the month of May and a part of June, Arts paid out for him without farther security $3,000 more. Arts and his sons testified that they did not know that Armstrong was insolvent, and that they had no cause to believe that there was any intention to give Arts a preference by the execution of the mortgage. The truth was that Armstrong was insolvent. He owed about $295,000, and his property was worth about $182,000. He testified that he knew he was insolvent when he gave the mortgage. He did not inform Arts or his sons of this fact, and he made a statement in December, 1903, that he owed $36,000, and that the value of his property was $210,750, and another on June 13, 1904, more than a month after the mortgage was recorded, in which he disclosed property worth, at his estimate, $59,340 more than his debts. The mortgage to Arts covered 2,360 acres of land in Carroll county; but Armstrong held the title to 616)/2 acres of land in Monona county which he estimated worth $10,040, subject to a mortgage of $20,000, 80 acres near Glidden, which he estimated worth $6,400, and

152 F.-60

personal property, which he estimated worth $28,600, which were not included in this mortgage, and which, according to these estimates made in June, 1904, were worth more than $75,000 above the incumbrances hé then reported upon them. Armstrong and his wife testified, and Arts and his sons denied, that the sons agreed with Armstrong and his wife that the mortgage should be kept from the record for six months, and that when they told Arts of this contract he replied: "I guess not, too much inquiry. It will go on record." The mortgage was recorded the day after it was made. One Sterling testified, and W. A. Arts denied, that in March or April, 1904, the latter told Sterling that Henry Armstrong was no good, and the old man was no better. One Hess testified that in 1900 Armstrong owed and paid his bank $28,000, and that he then learned that he was in debe to the amount of $75,000. One Carter testiñed, and Arts denied, that the former, in February, 1904, tried to se'l to the latter two promissory notes signed by Armstrong, and that Arts declined to buy them, and said that he was carrying the Armstrongs for all that he cared to. and that they would have to pay up before he would let them have any more money.

In this state of the evidence the court below was of the opinion that Arts did not have reasonable cause to believe that there was any intention to give him a preference by the making of this mortgage. When the court has considered conflicting evidence and made a finding or decree it is presumptively correct and unless some obvious error of law has intervened or some serious mistake of fact has been made, the finding or decree must be permitted to stand. Warren v. Burt, 7 C. C. A. 105, 110, 58 Fed. 101, 106; Paxson v. Brown, 10 C. C. A. 135, 144, 61 Fed. 874, 879; Stuart v. Hayden, 18 C. C. A. 618, 622, 72 Fed. 402, 406; Fitchett v. Blows, 20 C. C. A. 286, 290, 74 Fed. 47, 51; Tilghman v. Proctor, 125 U. S. 136, 8 Sup. Ct. 894, 31 L. Ed. 661; Kimberly v. Arms, 129 U. S. 512, 9 Sup. Ct. 355, 32 L. Ed. 764; Furrer v. Ferris, 145 U. S. 132, 134, 12 Sup. Ct. 821, 36 L. Ed. 649.

Armstrong was engaged principally in farming, and he was not subject to adjudication in bankruptcy upon an involuntary petition. The preference voidable under the bankruptcy law, therefore, could not arise, unless he voluntarily invited an adjudication in bankruptcy against himself. In the absence of such an adjudication a bona fide mortgage whereby a creditor obtains a larger percentage of his preexisting debt than other creditors of the same class is valid. Armstrong was reputed to be one of the wealthiest citizens of Carroll county. He made a financial statement to Arts less than a year before this mortgage was made, which disclosed property owned by him which was worth at least $100,000 above the debt to Arts, and the other debts he then mentioned. Arts had been loaning money to him without security for many years. All the testimony, which tended to show any reasonable cause for Arts to believe that there was any intention to give him a preference by the execution of this mortgage, was denied under oath. The mortgage was not taken hastily. It did not include all the debtor's property, but left personal and real estate worth many tens of thousands of dollars uncovered by it, and Arts still ex

tended credit to Armstrong next 50 days after the mor more without taking any s These facts support the find closes no mistake in the co in the application of the la the court below. Our conci cause to believe that there i over other creditors by the

2. Upon the record whic that Armstrong did not ma pose on his part to hinder, them, and no error of law its consideration of the evid warrant disturbance of th tent to hinder, delay, and dei the fact that the inevitable e of the opportunity to collec of law that every one

is

pre effect of his acts, is not te delay, or defraud creditors or delay them, that avails to debt under section 67e. An of proceedings in bankruptc erty. He has the right to se the right to secure and pay vided always the security or acts of Congress or of any of one creditor over others which is free from actual as to affect other creditors in the security or the payment dence such an intent to hir void or voidable under sec tends to hinder or delay cr delay necessarily resulting right to dominion over one dispose of it, is neither an un of others and is not within ť veyances intended to hinder River Lumber & Fuel Co., 34 156; Lampson v. Arnold, 19 ham, 115 U. S. 61, 66, 5 Su made in good faith to pay o an insolvent within four mont by or against him constitutes hinder, delay, or defraud othe Cie of the bankruptcy law, ne effect is to hinder and delay tunity they might otherwise

There is no other substant

tended credit to Armstrong for the $2,000 overdraft, and within the next 50 days after the mortgage was made paid out for him $3,000 more without taking any security until after it had been expended. These facts support the finding below. To our minds the record discloses no mistake in the consideration of the evidence, and no error in the application of the law in the investigation of this question by the court below. Our conclusion is that Arts did not have reasonable cause to believe that there was any intention to give him a preference over other creditors by the execution of the mortgage of May 2, 1904.

2. Upon the record which has been recited the court also found that Armstrong did not make this mortgage with the intent or purpose on his part to hinder, delay, or defraud his creditors, or any of them, and no error of law or mistake of fact has been discovered in its consideration of the evidence relative to this question which would warrant a disturbance of this conclusion. The contention that the intent to hinder, delay, and defraud other creditors must be in ferred from the fact that the inevitable effect of the mortgage was to deprive them of the opportunity to collect their claims in full, and from the rule of law that every one is presumed to intend the natural and probable effect of his acts, is not tenable here. It is every intent to hinder, delay, or defraud creditors unlawfully only, not every intent o hinder or delay them, that avails to avoid a transfer made for a pre-existing debt under section 67e. An insolvent debtor until the commencement of proceedings in bankruptcy still has the jus disponendi of his property. He has the right to secure and pay his debts with it, and he has the right to secure and pay one creditor in preference to others, provided always the security or the payment is not violative of any of the acts of Congress or of any of the statutes of the state. A preference of one creditor over others by such a payment or by such security, which is free from actual and intended fraud, and from any purpose to affect other creditors injuriously, beyond the necessary effect of the security or the payment, is valid and lawful, and it cannot evidence such an intent to hinder, delay and defraud as will make it void or voidable under section 67e. "Every mortgage necessarily tends to hinder or delay creditors other than the mortgagee, but a delay necessarily resulting from a fair and honest exercise of the right to dominion over one's property, and to pledge or otherwise dispose of it, is neither an unjust nor lawful interference with the rights of others and is not within the terms of the statute making void conveyances intended to hinder or delay creditors." Sabin v. Columbia River Lumber & Fuel Co., 34 Pac. 692, 695, 25 Or. 15, 42 Am. St. Rep. 156; Lampson v. Arnold, 19 Iowa, 479, 484, 485; Stewart v. Dunham, 115 U. S. 61, 66, 5 Sup. Ct. 1163, 29 L. Ed. 329. A transfer made in good faith to pay or to secure an honest antecedent debt by an insolvent within four months of the filing of a petition in bankruptcy by or against him constitutes no evidence of an intent on his part to hinder, delay, or defraud other creditors, within the meaning of section 67e of the bankruptcy law, notwithstanding the fact that its necessary effect is to hinder and delay them, and to deprive them of the opportunity they might otherwise have had to collect their claims in full.

There is no other substantial evidence in this case of any purpose

I С С. 55 of and pro as a 25; Ct. 114 subie mortg not vo by its or is be it was in & Trust Mclair v. Richar Pittsburg

on the part of Armstrong to hinder, delay, or defraud any of his creditors. He honestly owed the entire debt he secured. He owed a banker, who for years had loaned him money whenever he desired it, without security. A part of his debt was due, and a portion had not yet matured. His creditor was ill, and his sons feared for his life. He owed him more than the entire capital of his bank, and the cashier feared that if this fact were known it might cause a run upon the institution. He was requested to protect and secure an obligation he could not immediately pay. He did so with no apparent purpose or intention except to honestly secure the payment of that which he undoubtedly would have paid as he had promised if the money to do so had been at his disposal. His act was free from fraud or unlawsul intent, and the finding of the court upon this question must be affirmed.

3. Was the mortgage voidable by the trustee although the mortgagee did not have reasonable cause to believe that there was an intention to give a preference thereby under section 60b and although the mortgagor had no intent or purpose on his part to hinder, delay or defraud his creditors, or any of them, under section 67e, because the mortgage was given to secure a pre-existing debt within four months of the filing of a petition in bankruptcy? Counsel for the trustee argue that an affirmative answer should be given to this question because sections 60a and 60b have no application to liens voluntarily created, and section 67e avoids mortgages for a pre-existing debt although the mortgagor had no intent to hinder, delay, or defraud his creditors. The portions of these sections pertinent to their argument are:

"Sec. 60. Preferred Creditors.-a. A person shall be deemed to have given a preference if, being insolvent, he has procured, or suffered a judgment to be entered against himself in favor of any person, or made a transfer of any of his property, and the effect of the enforcement of such judgment or transfer will be to enable any one of his creditors to obtain a greater percentage of his debt than any other of such creditors of the same class.

“b. If a bankrupt shall bave given a preference within four months before the filing of a petition, or after the filing of the petition and before the adJudication, and the person receiving it or to be benefited thereby, or his agent acting therein, shall have had reasonable cause to believe that it was intended thereby to give a preference, it shall be voidable by the trustee and he may recover the property or its value from such person."

"Sec. 67. Liens.-d. Liens given or accepted in good faith and not in contemplation of, or in fraud upon this act and for a present consideration, which have been recorded according to law, if record thereof was necessary in order to impart notice, shall not be affected by this act.

“e. That all conveyances, transfers, assignments or incumbrances of his property, or any part thereof, made or given by a person adjudged a bankrupt under the provisions of this act subsequent to the passage of this act, and within four months of the filing of the petition, with the intent and purpose on his part to hinder, delay or defraud his creditors, or any of them, shall be null and void as against the creditors of such debtor."

The following, and many other authorities cited by counsel to sustain their contention, have been examined by the court: City National Bank v. Bruce, 109 Fed. 69, 48 C. C. A. 236; In re Sanderlin (D. C.) 109 Fed. 857; In re Jones (D. C.) 118 Fed. 673; In re Belding (D. C.) 116 Fed. 1016; In re Wolf (D. C.) 98 Fed. 84; In re

And fin made with are legal a the bankru that thevc void unless present cons affected by t able those g 67e, which de judged a bar tion with the fraud his cred sarily limited given with tha without such a mortgage made existing debt wr voidable under

S on his part to hii or is held void af tory, or district is

1

the mortgage to

The lands desc free of incumbrane was completed on below allowed to the thereon until Augu He has appealed ir

Pease (D. C.) 129 Fed. 417, 448; In re Gutwillig, 92 Fed. 337, 31 C. C. A. 377; Keppel v. Tiffin Savings Bank, 197 U. S. 356, 25 Sup. Ct. 443, 49 L. Ed. 790; Pollock v. Jones, 124 Fed. 163, 61 C. C. A. 557. But the word “transfer" in section 60a both by the express terms of the bankruptcy law and by authoritative decision includes "the sale and every other and different mode of disposing of, or parting with property, or the possession of property, absolutely or conditionally, as a payment, pledge, mortgage, gift or security." Section 1, par. 25; Pirie v. Chicago Title & Trust Co., 182 U. S. 438, 414, 21 Sup. Ct. 906, 45 L. Ed. 1171; In re Ed. W. Wright Lumber Co. (D. C.) 114 Fed. 1011, 1013. A mortgage is a security and a transfer, and subject to the provisions of section 60a and section 605. Such a mortgage or transfer as constitutes a preference under section 60a is not voidable under section 60b by the plain words of that section, and by its adjudicated construction unless the creditor who receives it, or is benefited by it, or his agent, has reasonable cause to believe that it was intended thereby to give a preference. Pirie v. Chicago Title & Trust Co., 182 U. S. 438, 446, 21 Sup. Ct. 906, 45 L. Ed. 1171; McNair v. McIntyre, 113 Fed. 113, 114, 51 C. C. A. 89, 90; Hussey v. Richardson-Roberts Dry Goods Co. (C. C. A.) 148 Fed. 598, 599 ; Pittsburgh Plate Glass Co. v. Edwards (C. C. A) 148 Fed. 377.

And finally, mortgages or transfers, to secure pre-existing debts made within four months of the filing of a petition in bankruptcy, are legal and valid, unless voidable by reason of some provision of the bankruptcy law, or of some state law, notwithstanding the fact that they create preferences. They are valid unless avoided; not void unless validated. The provision of section 67d, that liens for present considerations given and accepted in good faith shall not be affected by the bankruptcy law, does not strike down or render voidable those given and accepted for past considerations, and section 67e, which declares that all transfers made or given by a person adjudged a bankrupt within four months before the filing of the petition "with the intent and purpose on his part to hinder, delay, or defraud his creditors, or any of them, shall be null and void,” is necessarily limited by the force of its terms to those transfers which are given with that intent only, and it leaves those given and accepted without such an intent unaffected by it and valid. A transfer or mortgage made by a person adjudged a bankrupt to secure a preexisting debt within four months of the filing of the petition is not voidable under section 67e, unless it was either made with the intent on his part to hinder, delay or defraud his creditors, or some of them, or is held void as against his creditors by the laws of the state, territory, or district in which the property is situated. The result is that the mortgage to Arts was properly sustained by the court below.

The lands described in this mortgage were sold by the trustee free of incumbrances for $135,000, and the collection of the proceeds was completed on March 1, 1906. Out of these proceeds the court below allowed to the mortgagee the principal of his debt and interest thereon until August 26, 1904, the date on which he filed his claim. He has appealed from the decree, and has also filed a petition to re

« iepriekšējāTurpināt »