271 U.S. 191 (1926), 168, Harrison v. Chamberlin

Docket Nº:No. 168
Citation:271 U.S. 191, 46 S.Ct. 467, 70 L.Ed. 897
Party Name:Harrison v. Chamberlin
Case Date:May 03, 1926
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 191

271 U.S. 191 (1926)

46 S.Ct. 467, 70 L.Ed. 897




No. 168

United States Supreme Court

May 3, 1926

Argued January 22, 1926




1. A proceeding instituted by a trustee in bankruptcy, in the bankruptcy suit, to recover property in the possession of an adverse claimant, is a controversy in bankruptcy reviewable by the circuit court of appeals, both as to fact and law, by an appeal taken under § 24a of the Bankruptcy Act. P. 193.

2. A court of bankruptcy is without jurisdiction to adjudicate in a summary proceeding a controversy over property held adversely to the bankrupt estate unless the adverse claimant consent or the claim be merely colorable. P. 193.

3. An actual claim may be adverse and substantial even though in fact fraudulent and voidable. P. 194.

4. A claim is to be deemed substantial when the claimant's contention discloses a contested matter of right, involving some fair doubt and reasonable room for controversy, in matters either of fact or law, and is not to be held merely colorable unless the preliminary inquiry shows that it is so unsubstantial and obviously insufficient, either in fact or law, as to be plainly without color of merit, and a mere pretense. P. 195.

298 F. 926 affirmed.

Certiorari to a judgment of the circuit court of appeals reversing an order, made by the district court summarily in a bankruptcy case, requiring the respondent Chamberlin to deliver money, adversely claimed by her, to Harrison, the trustee in bankruptcy.

Page 192

SANFORD, J., lead opinion

[46 S.Ct. 468] MR. JUSTICE SANFORD delivered the opinion of the Court.

In the course of the administration of the estate of the bankrupt corporation in the District Court for Eastern Oklahoma, the petitioner Harrison, the trustee in bankruptcy, filed a petition for a summary order requiring Mrs. Chamberlin, the respondent, a stranger to the proceeding, to deliver to him certain money in her possession which, he alleged, was the property of the bankrupt, held by her fraudulently and without color or claim of title. She filed a demurrer for want of jurisdiction in the court to proceed summarily. This was overruled. She then answered, asserting that the money was her individual property, acquired and held by her in good faith, and renewing her jurisdictional objection. The matter was referred to the referee in bankruptcy to report his findings of fact and conclusions of law. He reported, upon the evidence, that the respondent's claim was based on fraud and merely colorable, and that the money was an asset of the estate and subject to the summary jurisdiction of the court. The district judge confirmed this report and entered a decree finding that the money was an asset of the estate, held by the respondent without color of title and in fraud of the rights of the trustee, and ordering that she deliver it to him forthwith. She appealed from this order to the circuit court of appeals, and also filed a petition for revision in matter of law. The circuit court of appeals, being of opinion that as questions of fact were involved in the hearing, the method of review was by appeal, dismissed the petition to revise. On the appeal, it held that the claim of

Page 193

the respondent was adverse...

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