121 U.S. 310 (1887), Huiskamp v. Moline Wagon Co.

Citation:121 U.S. 310, 7 S.Ct. 899, 30 L.Ed. 971
Party Name:HUISKAMP and others v. MOLINE WAGON CO. [1]
Case Date:April 18, 1887
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 310

121 U.S. 310 (1887)

7 S.Ct. 899, 30 L.Ed. 971

HUISKAMP and others

v.

MOLINE WAGON CO. 1

United States Supreme Court.

April 18, 1887

In Error to the Circuit Court of the United States for the Western Division of the Western District of Missouri.

COUNSEL

[7 S.Ct. 899] James Hagerman, for plaintiffs in error.

C. M. Osborn and S. A. Lynde, for defendant in error.

OPINION

BLATCHFORD, J.

On the eighth of January, 1880, the Moline Wagon Company, an Illinois corporation, commenced an attachment suit in the circuit court of Putnam county, in the state of Missouri, against Jacob Rummel and Edwin R. Cutler, copartners under the name of J. Rummel & Son. The suit was brought under a statute of Missouri, and claimed an indebtedness of $6,722.61. The ground on which the attachment was issued was that the defendants had 'fraudulently conveyed or assigned their property or effects so as to hinder and delay their creditors,' and had 'fraudulently concealed, removed, or disposed of their property or effects so as to hinder or delay their creditors,' and were 'about fraudulently to convey or assign their property or effects so as to hinder or delay their creditors.' Under this attachment, the sheriff, on the ninth of January, 1880, seized a quantity of goods in the possession of the firm of Huiskamp Bros. the proceeds of which are

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the subject of controversy. These goods were subsequently sold as perishable property, and the proceeds, $5,246.50, were placed in court. On the fifteenth of [7 S.Ct. 900] March, 1880, the plaintiff removed the suit into the circuit court of the United States for the Western division of the Western district of Missouri. Prior to the sale of the goods, and on the eighth of May, 1880, Huiskamp Bros. filed in the suit, under the statute of Missouri, what is called an interplea, claiming to be the owners of the goods attached, and to have been such owners at the date of the levy of the attachment, and demanding a return of the property. On the seventeenth of May, 1880, Rummel filed a plea in the nature of a plea in abatement, denying the indebtedness, denying the several frauds alleged, and praying for an abatement of the attachment and a release of the property. After the sale of the property, and on the seventeenth of May, 1881, Huiskamp Bros. filed an amended interplea, claiming that when the goods were seized the same belonged to them, and were in their possession; that the goods were wrongfully seized; and that the proceeds of their sale, in court, amounting to $5,246.50, were their property. The plaintiff answered the amended interplea, and denied its allegations. A trial of the interplea was had before the court and a jury in October, 1882, at which a verdict was found that the property attached and the proceeds thereof 'were not and are not the property of the interpleaders,' on which a judgment was entered for the plaintiff and against the interpleaders, to review which the interpleaders have brought this writ of error.

The mode of procedure by interplea in an attachment suit, where a third party claims the attached property, is authorized by section 449 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri of 1879, which is as follows: 'Any person claiming property, money, effects, or credits attached, may interplead in the cause, verifying the same by affidavit, and issues may be made upon such interplea, and shall be tried as like issues between plaintiff and defendant, and without any unnecessary delay.'

The bill of exceptions contains the following statement as to the proceedings had at the trial:

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The interpleaders, in support of their title to the property in controversy, offered testimony, which was admitted, tending to prove such title, as follows: First. A chattel mortgage, made by defendant Jacob Rummel to the interpleaders, on the stock of merchandise, the proceeds of which are in controversy, dated December 24, 1879, and the notes of said Jacob Rummel to said interpleaders secured thereby, of same date, one for $2,500, and one for $1,500, each due one day after date, and bearing ten per cent. interest from date. Said mortgage was signed and acknowledged in due form, and filed for record in the office of the recorder of deeds of Putnam county, Missouri, on January 1, 1880. Said mortgage provided that the mortgagees might sell the mortgaged property at public sale on ten days' notice. Second. That said stock of merchandise was actually transferred and delivered to the interpleaders on January 6, 1880, prior to the seizure of the same under the writ of attachment issued in the case of the plaintiffs against the defendants.

'The interpleaders further offered testimony, which was admitted in evidence, tending to show that they were wholesale dealers in boots and shoes in the city of Keokuk, Lee county, Iowa, and had been for many years; that prior to January, 1878, the defendants Jacob Rummel & Son were partners engaged in business in the town of Unionville, Putnam county, Missouri, under the firm name of Rummel & Son, and their business was that of general retail merchandise, including farming implements, wagons, etc.; that in January, 1878, the said partners dissolved said firm, and divided the property and business thereof, and both of said partners informed the interpleaders of such dissolution.

That, after such dissolution, the said Jacob Rummel continued at the same place the general retail merchandise business, and the defendant Ed. R. Cutler engaged in the business of selling agricultuarl implements, including wagons; that after January, 1878, as between themselves, the said Rummel had [7 S.Ct. 901] no interest in the profits or losses of the business carried on by Cutler in the agricultural implement business,

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and Cutler no interest in the profits or losses of the merchandise business; that the indebtedness for which the stock of merchandise was mortgaged or pledged was for goods sold to Jacob Rummel after the dissolution and division of the business and property of the firm of Rummel & Son; that when the interpleaders took the mortgage, and also when they took possession of the stock of merchandise, they understood that the same belonged to Jacob Rummel, and had been led to so believe from the statements of both Cutler and Rummel; that they took said mortgage and possession of said stock of merchandise in good faith, to secure their debt, and not to hinder, delay, or defraud, or to assist in hindering, delaying, or defrauding, the creditors of the said Rummel or Rummel & Son; that Rummel made the conveyance and transfer to the interpleaders in good faith, to secure their debt, and not with the fraudulent purpose of hindering, delaying, or defrauding his creditors, or those of the firm of Rummel & Son.'

Luke Huiskamp, one of the interpleaders, testified to the circumstances under which Huiskamp Bros. took the mortgage and entered into possession of the mortgaged property. His testimony shows that they did so upon the understanding and belief, derived from both Rummel and Cutler, that the property belonged to Rummel; and that the only purpose of Huiskamp Bros. was to secure bona fide debts due to them, and to certain other creditors, by Rummel.

The bill of exceptions then goes on to state as follows: 'Jacob Rummel, a witness for the interpleaders, on his cross-examination, among other things, testified that Thomas M. Fee was the attorney of interpleaders, and was present at the time of the taking possession by the interpleaders of the property in controversy, and has been such attorney from that time until the present; that, at the time of the trial of the plea in abatement of Rummel, said Fee was the attorney of Rummel, and was employed by Rummel to assist, and did assist, in the trial of such plea in abatement. The plaintiffs offered testimony, which was admitted in evidence, tending to show that the interpleaders took the

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mortgage on and possession of the stock of merchandise in controversy, not in good faith, but to assist the defendant Cutler in hindering, delaying, and defrauding his creditors, and the creditors of the firm of Rummel & Son; that there was no dissolution of the firm, or division of the firm property, in January, 1878, or afterwards; that Jacob Rummel made the...

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