Bank of Bay Biscayne v. Ball

Decision Date04 April 1930
PartiesBANK OF BAY BISCAYNE v. BALL
CourtFlorida Supreme Court

Rehearing Denied May 22, 1930.

En Banc.

Error to Circuit Court, Dade County; A. J. Rose, Judge.

Action by Charles Ball against the Bank of Bay Biscayne. Judgment for plaintiff, and defendant brings error.

Affirmed.

COUNSEL

R. F. Burdine and Burdine, Terry & Fleming, all of Miami, for plaintiff in error.

Robert J. Boone, of Miami, for defendant in error.

OPINION

ELLIS J.

A judgment was obtained by Charles Ball, the defendant in error, against the Bank of Bay Biscayne, in the circuit court for Dade county in the sum of $7,040. Which judgment the Bank took a writ of error.

The only question presented is whether a bank which 'certifies' a check which is presented by the holder of it in due course is bound by such certification to pay the amount for which the check was certified to the holder in due course who presented the check for certification.

A check was drawn on the Bank of Bay Biscayne by S. M. Weisberger on August 12, 1925, for the sum of $7,040 payable to the order of Seminole Company. The check was indorsed by the payee to Seminole Properties and by the latter indorsed in blank, and on the 15th of August, 1925, came in due course into the possession of Charles Ball, who presented it to the bank which at Ball's request 'certified' it. Later the check was presented at the bank by Ball for payment and payment refused. Ball thereupon brought his action against the bank.

The certification by the bank as it appears on the check is in the following words and figures: 'Certified No. 17301 Good for $7,040 only when properly endorsed Aug. 15, 1925 Bank of Bay Biscayne Miami--Florida E. W. Gilmann, Teller.'

There is no question as to the authority of the bank officer to certify the check nor as to the form of the certificate nor the signification of it. It was a definite statement by the bank that the drawer of the check had on deposit at the bank at the time the check was presented for certification, or that his account as the same appeared upon the books of the bank, showed a credit balance sufficiently large, or that his credit at the bank was sufficiently strong to insure the payment of the check by the bank when presented properly indorsed for payment. It was not in form a promise to pay supported by a valuable consideration. It was a mere statement of a fact.

No greater obligation rested upon the bank to pay the check after it was certified than before it was certified unless the certification constituted a valid obligation to pay or promise that the funds of the drawer would not be withdrawn or that it raised an estoppel of the bank to deny its liability on the check as a drawee on a time draft after acceptance.

The check was certified by the bank after delivery on presentation by the holder. In such case the rule most generally upheld by the courts and which this court will follow is that the bank becomes the absolute debtor of the holder and the drawer is released. The principle is that a certificate of a bank that a check is good is equivalent to acceptance. See section 6926 C. G. L. 1927; Merchants' National Bank V. State National Bank, 10 Wall. 604, 647, 19 L.Ed. 1008; First National Bank v. Whitman, 94 U.S. 343, 24 L.Ed. 229; Metropolitan Nat. Bank of Chicago v. Jones, 137 Ill. 634, 27 N.E. 533, 12 L. R. A. 492, 31 Am. St. Rep. 403; Minot v. Russ, 156 Mass. 458, 31 N.E. 489, 16 L. R. A. 510, 32 Am. St. Rep. 472; First Nat. Bank of Detroit v. Currie, 147 Mich. 72, 110 N.W. 499, 9 L. R. A. (N. S.) 698, 118 Am. St. Rep. 537, 11 Ann. Cas. 241; Jackson Paper Mfg. Co. v. Commercial Nat. Bank, 199 Ill. 151, 65 N.E. 136, 59 L. R. A. 657, 93 Am. St. Rep. 113.

The reason given for the rule is forcefully expressed by Mr. Justice Swayne in Merchants' National Bank v. State National Bank, supra.

'All the authorities, both English and American, hold that a check may be accepted, though acceptance is not usual. Robson v. Bennett, 2 Taunton, 395; Grant on Banking, 89; Ch. on Bills, 10th Ed. 261; Boyd v. Emmerson, 2 Adolphus &amp Ellis, 184; Kilsby v. Williams, 5 Barnewall & Alderson, 816; Story on Promissory Notes §§ 489, 490. By the law merchant of this country the certificate of th bank that a check is good is equivalent to acceptance. It implies that the check is drawn upon sufficient funds in the hands of the drawee, that they have been set apart for its satisfaction, and that they shall be so applied whenever the check is presented for payment. It is an undertaking that the check is good then and shall continue good, and this agreement is as binding on the bank as its notes of circulation, a certificate of deposit payable to the order of the depositor, or any other obligation it can assume. The object of certifying a check, as regards both parties, is to enable the holder...

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    ... ... Cuesta, Rey & Co. against John A. Newsom, as liquidator of ... the Citizens' Bank & Trust Company, and others. From an ... order sustaining a demurrer to the bill of complaint, ... from any obligation thereon ... In the ... case of Bank of Bay Biscayne v. Ball, 99 Fla. 745, ... 128 So. 491, 492, this court said: ... 'The ... principle is ... ...
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