Fred S. James & Co. v. Rossia Ins. Co. of America,

CourtNew York Court of Appeals
Writing for the CourtO'BRIEN
Citation247 N.Y. 262,160 N.E. 364
PartiesFRED S. JAMES & CO. v. ROSSIA INS. CO. OF AMERICA.
Decision Date14 February 1928

247 N.Y. 262
160 N.E. 364

FRED S. JAMES & CO.
v.
ROSSIA INS.
CO. OF AMERICA.

Court of Appeals of New York.

Feb. 14, 1928.


Action by Fred S. James & Co. against the Rossia Insurance Company of America. An interlocutory judgment of the Supreme Court granting plaintiff recovery under general reinsurance treaties with the Rossia Insurance Company of Petrograd for the years 1914, 1915, and 1916, and appointing a referee to determine the amounts of such recovery was reversed and complaint was dismissed by the Appellate Division (220 App. Div. 404, 221 N. Y. S. 739), and plaintiff appeals.

Affirmed.

See, also, 208 App. Div. 799, 203 N. Y. S. 930; 216 App. Div. 805, 215 N. Y. S. 848; 218 App. Div. 772, 218 N. Y. S. 751.

[160 N.E. 365]


[247 N.Y. 263]Appeal from Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department.

David Rumsey and Louis J. Wolff, both of New York City, for appellant.

Nathan L. Miller, Hartwell Cabell and Harold Otis, all of New York City, for respondent.


[247 N.Y. 264]James H. McIntosh, of New York City, for Howard E. Jones, amicus curiae.

[247 N.Y. 265]O'BRIEN, J.

During the year 1904, the Rossia Insurance Company of Petrograd, a corporation organized under the laws of the former Russian Empire, established a United States department of its business at Hartford, Conn. This department conducted reinsurance in this state and many other states. It was entirely in charge of Carl F. Sturhahn who possessed full power of attorney to do all things which the Rossia by its charter was authorized to do. Although this department was not then incorporated, its status was analogous to that of a corporation and it was managed on a basis entirely separate from the European affairs of the company. Pursuant to sections 27 and 28 of the Insurance Law of this state (Consol. Laws, c. 28), and to a similar statute of Connecticut, the Rossia created within this country a capital corresponding to that of a domestic corporation. This capital consisted of bonds deposited with the superintendents of insurance of Connecticut, New York, and Ohio of the value of $709,000 and other bonds, cash, and real estate of the value of $8,819,613.86 held by three citizens of this country under deeds of trust. By statute such property constituted security for business transacted by the Rossia ‘in this country and not elsewhere.’ Insurance Law, § 27; Matter of People by Stoddard (In re Norske Lloyd Ins. Co.), 242 N. Y. 148, 159, 151 N. E. 159.

As early as 1927 the directors at Petrograd had seriously considered incorporating their American business. Nothing definite, however, was accomplished until the year 1915 when the Connecticut Legislature enacted a statute authorizing the incorporation of this defendant and in [247 N.Y. 266]1917 that authority was renewed. The complaint alleges that defendant, the Rossia Insurance Company of America, is a corporation organized and existing under the laws of Connecticut and the answer does not deny such allegation. In july, 1918, 2,450 of the 2,500 shares of defendant were subscribed by the Rossia of Petrograd and officers were elected. Issue of stock was delayed by the absence of approval by the United States government which then regulated investment of capital as a war emergency measure. In February, 1919, shortly after our government relinquished that power, the 2,450 shares, having been paid for with funds from one of the foreign accounts of the Russian company, were issued to Sturhahn as trustee for the Rossia of Petrograd and by him deposited in escrow with a trust company at Hartford until released by the superintendent of insurance of Connecticut. These shares were later increased to 3,950 shares and were transferred to the Societe Commerciale & Financiere Caross, a French holding company organized by shareholders and members of the board of directors of the Rossia for the purpose of concentrating the assets of the Rossia existing outside of Russia. In 1922 the stock was sold to Kidder, Peabody & Co. of New York and marketed to many persons residing in this country. The Rossia has had no interest in this defendant since March, 1922.

While the incorporation of defendant was in progress, the Bolsheviki revolution occurred. In November, 1918, the Soviet government issued its decree against all insurance corporations controlled by private capital. Insurance was declared a state monopoly, all private insurance companies were made subject to liquidation, and upon their liquidation all their available property was to become the property of the Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic. Liquidation was ordered to be completed not later than April 1, 1919.

In an instrument called a multipartite agreement made [247 N.Y. 267]effective as of April 1, 1919, the Rossia of Petrograd and the Rossia of America, with the consent of the superintendent of insurance of this state, and with the concurrence of thirty-three insurance companies conducting business in the United States and having...

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8 practice notes
  • Moscow Fire Ins. Co. v. Bank of New York & Trust Co.
    • United States
    • New York Court of Appeals
    • April 11, 1939
    ...by the unrecognized governmental establishment then ruling in Russia made that course impossible. Cf. James & Co. v. Rossia Ins. Co., 247 N.Y. 262, 160 N.E. 364. Alternative courses were urged upon us. The assets of the United States branch which had been taken over by the Superintenden......
  • United States v. President & Directors of the Manhattan Co.
    • United States
    • New York Court of Appeals
    • January 11, 1938
    ...243 N.Y. 524, 154 N.E. 590;Id., 255 N.Y. 412, 175 N.E. 113;Id., 255 N.Y. 436, 175 N.E. 121;James & Co. v. Rossia Ins. Co. of America, 247 N.Y. 262, 160 N.E. 364;Petrogradsky Mejdunarodny Kommerchesky Bank v. National City Bank, 253 N.Y. 23, 170 N.E. 479;Severnoe Securities Corporation v......
  • Petrogradsky Mejdunarodny Kommerchesky Bank v. Nat'l City Bank of New York
    • United States
    • New York Court of Appeals
    • February 11, 1930
    ...to sue in our courts in the name and for the benefit of the corporation they represent. James & Co. v. Rossia Ins. Co. of America, 247 N. Y. 262, 160 N. E. 364. In saying this we are not unmindful that the shareholders, the equitable owners of the assets, are dispersed and to some exten......
  • EXAKTA CAMERA COMPANY OF AMERICA v. Camera Specialty Co.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • March 28, 1957
    ...Estonian State Cargo & Pass. S.S. Line v. United States, 116 F.Supp. 447, 126 Ct.Cl. 809; James & Co. v. Rossia Insurance Co., 247 N.Y. 262, 160 N.E. 364; Petrogradsky Mejdunarodny Kommerchesky Bank v. National City Bank, 253 N.Y. 23, 170 N.E. 479, certiorari denied 282 U.S. 878, 51......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
8 cases
  • Moscow Fire Ins. Co. v. Bank of New York & Trust Co.
    • United States
    • New York Court of Appeals
    • April 11, 1939
    ...by the unrecognized governmental establishment then ruling in Russia made that course impossible. Cf. James & Co. v. Rossia Ins. Co., 247 N.Y. 262, 160 N.E. 364. Alternative courses were urged upon us. The assets of the United States branch which had been taken over by the Superintenden......
  • United States v. President & Directors of the Manhattan Co.
    • United States
    • New York Court of Appeals
    • January 11, 1938
    ...243 N.Y. 524, 154 N.E. 590;Id., 255 N.Y. 412, 175 N.E. 113;Id., 255 N.Y. 436, 175 N.E. 121;James & Co. v. Rossia Ins. Co. of America, 247 N.Y. 262, 160 N.E. 364;Petrogradsky Mejdunarodny Kommerchesky Bank v. National City Bank, 253 N.Y. 23, 170 N.E. 479;Severnoe Securities Corporation v......
  • Petrogradsky Mejdunarodny Kommerchesky Bank v. Nat'l City Bank of New York
    • United States
    • New York Court of Appeals
    • February 11, 1930
    ...to sue in our courts in the name and for the benefit of the corporation they represent. James & Co. v. Rossia Ins. Co. of America, 247 N. Y. 262, 160 N. E. 364. In saying this we are not unmindful that the shareholders, the equitable owners of the assets, are dispersed and to some exten......
  • EXAKTA CAMERA COMPANY OF AMERICA v. Camera Specialty Co.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • March 28, 1957
    ...Estonian State Cargo & Pass. S.S. Line v. United States, 116 F.Supp. 447, 126 Ct.Cl. 809; James & Co. v. Rossia Insurance Co., 247 N.Y. 262, 160 N.E. 364; Petrogradsky Mejdunarodny Kommerchesky Bank v. National City Bank, 253 N.Y. 23, 170 N.E. 479, certiorari denied 282 U.S. 878, 51......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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