34 U.S. 182 (1834), Field v. U.s.

Citation:34 U.S. 182, 9 L.Ed. 94
Party Name:SEAMAN FIELD AND OTHERS, PLAINTIFFS IN ERROR v. THE UNITED STATES.
Case Date:February 21, 1834
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 182

34 U.S. 182 (1834)

9 L.Ed. 94

SEAMAN FIELD AND OTHERS, PLAINTIFFS IN ERROR

v.

THE UNITED STATES.

United States Supreme Court.

February 21, 1834

OPINION

IN error to the district court of the United States for the eastern district of Louisiana.

In the district court of the United States, on the 30th of March 1831, the attorney of the district filed a petition of complaint, on behalf of the United States, against Seaman Field, Samuel J. Peters, and Thomas Toby, residing in the city of New Orleans, syndics of L. E. Brown; stating that one Lewis E. Brown, of the city of New Orleans, on the 27th of October 1829, executed a certain bond to the United States in the sum of 1366 dollars 20 cents; and suit having been brought in the said bond, judgment in favour of the United States was obtained on it on the 22d of December 1830, for the amount thereof, to be satisfied with the payment of 632 dollars 10 cents with interest, &c. That the said Lewis E. Brown failed and became insolvent, and made a voluntary assignment of all his property to his creditors, on or about the 30th of April 1830, under the laws of Louisiana. That Seaman Field, Samuel J. Peters, and Thomas Toby, were appointed syndics, or assignees of his creditors; and in that capacity have received and taken possession of all the property, real and personal of the insolvent, and have sold, and disposed of the same, to an amount far exceeding the debts due by him to the United States. That at the time of their receiving and taking possession of the said property as aforesaid, they well knew of the existence of the debts due to the United States by Lewis E. Brown; and that an amicable demand had been made of them by the United States, for the amount of the said judgment

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and of the costs, but they have neglected or refused to pay the same, or any part thereof.

The petition prays a citation to the defendants, to answer the same; and that after due proceeding they be condemned, jointly and severally, to pay the amount due to the United States.

Citations issued to the several defendants, who appeared, respectively, and on the 17th of May 1831, filed separate answers to the petition.

The answers admitted that the respondents had, in the capacity of syndics, taken possession of the property of L. E. Brown, by him assigned for the benefit of and distribution among his creditors; and that they acted in the said capacity, in virtue of certain judicial proceedings in the parish court for the parish and city of New Orleans, to which proceedings the answers referred; and an exemplification of which proceedings would in due time be exhibited, and which were to be considered as part of the said answer.

That in virtue of said proceedings, under the local laws of Louisiana, the said property so assigned was sold by said syndics on a credit of one, two and three years; that out of the proceeds of sale, when the same shall be received, are to be paid certain privileged and mortgaged creditors, who are preferred to the United States.

The answers further state that the respondents have no funds in their hands belonging to the estate of L. E. Brown; the property having been so sold, on a credit for promissory notes not yet due or paid. They deny all other allegations in the petition, or that the respondents, as syndics, have done any thing to render them responsible under the laws of the United States, or liable in any manner to the claim stated in the petition of the United States, and pray a trial by jury.

The answers further state that the said syndics sold the household furniture and other movables of the said L. E. Brown at a credit of six months; out of the proceeds of which they have paid law charges, house rent, and other privileged charges upon the estate preferred to the United States; of which a particular account is annexed to one of the separate answers filed in the case.

On the same 30th of March 1831, the district attorney filed

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a petition in similar terms, stating that on a bond given by the said L. E. Brown to the United States, for 1394 dollars, on the 3d of December 1829, a suit had been brought on the 3d of December 1830, and on the 22d of the same month, a judgment had been obtained for the amount, to be satisfied by the payment of 697 dollars, with interest, &c., with the same allegations of responsibilities on the part of the defendants.

Another petition was filed at the same time, stating that on a bond given by the said L. E. Brown, on the 28th of October 1829, for the sum of 1264 dollars, a judgment had been obtained on the 22d of December 1830, for the said sum, to be satisfied by the payment of 632 dollars, with interest, &c.; and also stating a claim on the defendants.

Another petition was filed at the same time, stating that on the 22d December 1830, another judgment, on a bond given to the United States by L. E. Brown, was obtained for the sum of 1060 dollars and 90 cents, to be satisfied by the payment of 530 dollars and 45 cents, with interest, &c.; and on the same day, another petition was filed, stating that another judgment had been obtained against L. E. Brown, on the 22d of December 1830, on a bond given by him, for the sum of 1396 dollars, to be satisfied by the payment of 698 dollars, with interest, &c.: both petitions alleging the liabilities of the defendants. Other petitions were filed upon other judgments, on bonds of the same nature, and for different amounts.

The whole amount of judgments stated in these several petitions, was 11,264 dollars and 10 cents; and the real debt, claimed to be due to the United States on the same, amounted to 5647 dollars and 55 cents, with interest, &c.

On the 2d of June 1831, in pursuance of an order of the district judge, a detailed statement of all the property received by the syndics or assignees of Lewis E. Brown, and the sales and dispositions they had made thereof, was filed in court.

The sales of the real estate and slaves were made, the former at one, two and three years, and the latter at twelve months credit; for which notes were given, which would become due at different periods, amounting to 39,000 dollars and 63 cents. The tableau of distribution of the first instalment of the estate, established by the parish court, in relation to the

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estate of Lewis E. Brown, referred to in the answers, dated on the 3d of December 1831, was also filed, and showed that the balance of cash in the hands of the syndics, amounting to 9536 dollars and 70 cents, had been paid as a dividend on 27,055 dollars to the mortgage creditors of Lewis E. Brown.

The amount of the moneys received and disbursed by the syndics, showing the balance of 9536 dollars for this distribution, was also filed.

On the 9th of March 1832, on motion of the district attorney, it was ordered that all these suits be consolidated; and, by consent of parties trial by jury being waved, the cause was submitted to the court, on a statement of facts prepared by the parties.

'Statement of facts by the counsel of the United States and the defendants.

'Lewis E. Brown, at the time of failure and insolvency, to wit, the 26th of May 1830, was surety on certain bonds given to secure duties to the United States by John Brown, Senior, viz.

'A bond dated 27th of October 1829, due 26th of August 1830, amount of duties 632 dollars; a bond dated 27th of October 1829, due 26th of June 1830, amount of duties 632 dollars and 10 cents; a bond dated 27th of October 1829, due 26th of October 1830, amount of duties 632 dollars; a bond dated 3d of December 1829, due 2d of October 1830, amount of duties 698 dollars; a bond dated 3d of December 1829, due 3d of December 1830, amount of duties 698 dollars; a bond dated 3d of December 1829, due 2d of August 1830, amount of duties 698 dollars; a bond dated 11th January 1830, due 9th of September 1830, amount of duties 530 dollars and 45 cents; a bond dated 11th of January 1830, due 9th of November 1830, amount of duties 531 dollars; a bond dated 11th of January 1830, due 9th of January 1831, amount of duties 531 dollars.

'On all of which, with the exception of the last mentioned, judgment was rendered against L. E. Brown, on the 22d of December 1830, for the aforesaid amounts, with interest at six per cent, from the falling due of the bonds until paid, with costs

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of suit; and in the last mentioned bond a like judgment was rendered on the 22d of February 1831. On these judgments writs of fieri facias have issued against all the parties, on which the marshal has returned nulla bona, and nothing has been paid by any of the parties on account of the same. John Brown, Senior, failed and became insolvent, and applied for the benefit of the insolvent law of Louisiana, on the 10th day of June 1830. The sale of Lewis E. Brown's property was made by order of the syndics, at public auction, on the 30th of July 1830. The defendants, as syndics, in addition to the sums stated by them to have been received in the account hereunto annexed, have received from the sale of the property of said Brown indorsed promissory notes, secured by mortgage on the property sold, amounting to 24,898 dollars and 60 cents; one half of which fell due on the 31st of July 1832, and the other half on the 31st of July 1833. The note stated in the account of moneys received and disbursed by the syndics of Lewis E. Brown to have been paid to the United States, was indorsed by Charles Armstrong, and was paid at the Bank of the United States, where it was deposited for collection by Martin Gordon, and paid by the syndics. The United States have never, in any manner, appeared in the proceedings had in the parish court in relation to the insolvency of Lewis E. Brown.

'Lewis E. Brown failed...

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