269 U.S. 483 (1926), 192, Bramwell v. United States Fidelity & Guaranty Company

Docket Nº:No.192
Citation:269 U.S. 483, 46 S.Ct. 176, 70 L.Ed. 368
Party Name:Bramwell v. United States Fidelity & Guaranty Company
Case Date:January 11, 1926
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 483

269 U.S. 483 (1926)

46 S.Ct. 176, 70 L.Ed. 368



United States Fidelity & Guaranty Company


United States Supreme Court

Jan. 11, 1926

Argued November 23, 1925




1. Indebtedness of a bank for Indian moneys, individual and tribal, deposited with it by the Superintendent of an Indian Reservation and secured by a bond given by the bank to the United States is an indebtedness to the United States within Rev.Stats. § 3466. P. 487.

2. Section 3466, Rev.Stats., is to be liberally construed in favor of the United States. Id.

3. The Priority Act extends to all debts due the United States from insolvent living debtors when their insolvency is shown in one of the ways specified in § 3466. P. 487.

4. The specified ways include all cases in which the insolvent debtor makes a voluntary assignment of his property, without regard to the purpose or manner of the assignment, and all in which an act of bankruptcy is committed under the laws of a state or a national bankruptcy law, and the Act does not expressly require that the debtor should be divested, or that the person on whom is imposed the duty to pay the United States first, shall have become invested, with the title to the debtor's property. P. 488.

5. An act may be "an act of bankruptcy" within § 3466 although the debtor, being a bank, is excepted from the operation of the Bankruptcy Law. P. 489.

6. Construed together, §§ 3466 and 3467 mean that a debt due the United States is required first to be satisfied when possession and control of the insolvent's estate are given to any person charged with the duty of applying it to payment of the debts of the insolvent as the rights and priorities of creditors may be made to appear. P. 490.

7. Where the property and business of an Oregon bank were placed, through a resolution of its directors, in the exclusive possession and control of the state Superintendent of Banks to be administered and disposed of for the benefit of creditors pursuant to Oregon Ls. §§ 6220-6223, under which the Superintendent performs the function of assignee, receiver, or trustee for the liquidation of the debts

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of the insolvent, held that, within the meaning of the Priority Act, there was a voluntary assignment, and also an act of bankruptcy within the definition of the Bankruptcy Law. P. 490.

8. General expressions in an opinion are to be taken in connection with the case under consideration. P. 489.

299 F. 705 affirmed.

Appeal from a decree of the circuit court of appeals which affirmed a decree of the district court (295 F. 331) in favor of the Guaranty Company in its suit to require the Oregon Superintendent of Banks to pay first, out of the assets of an insolvent bank, a debt to the United States which had been assigned to the plaintiff.

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BUTLER, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE BUTLER delivered the opinion of the Court.

January 28, 1922, the Superintendent of the Klamath Indian Reservation had on deposit with the First State & Savings Bank of Klamath Falls, Oregon, $96,000, Indian moneys, individual and tribal. The bank had given a bond to the United States, with appellee as surety, to secure the payment of the deposit. It was insolvent,

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and, on that day, suspended payment. Because of its condition, the board of directors passed a resolution giving full control of its affairs to appellant. Pursuant to the laws of the state, he took possession and control of its property and business for the purpose of liquidation. Appellee paid the amount of the deposit to the superintendent of the reservation, and received from the United States an assignment of its claim against the bank, and appellee has the priority, if any, that belonged to the United States. R.S. § 3468. It claimed that, under R.S. § 3466, it should be paid in full out of the bank's assets prior to any payment on account of unsecured or unpreferred claims...

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