Grand Council of Pennsylvania Royal Arcanum v. Cornelius

Decision Date07 January 1901
Docket Number32
PartiesGrand Council of Pennsylvania Royal Arcanum v. Cornelius
CourtPennsylvania Supreme Court

Argued October 22, 1900

Appeal, No. 32, Oct. T., 1900, by defendant, from judgment of C.P. No. 3, Allegheny Co., Aug. T., 1899, No. 2., on verdict for plaintiff in case of the Grand Council of Pennsylvania Royal Arcanum v. Katharine S. Cornelius and Katharine S Cornelius, Executrix of Charles E. Cornelius, deceased. Affirmed.

Replevin for seven United States bonds of the aggregate value of $2,500. Before McCLUNG, J.

At the trial it appeared that the bonds in controversy were the property of the plaintiff, but had been in the custody of Charles E. Cornelius before his death, which occurred on October 15, 1898. The bonds were seized by the sheriff in the possession of defendant. Defendant did not give any property bond, and the bonds were delivered to plaintiff. It appeared that Cornelius in his lifetime gave three notes to the People's Savings Bank of Pittsburg, and as security for the third note he fraudulently pledged the bonds in controversy. After his death defendant with moneys of the estate paid off all three of the notes, and received the bonds, but refused to deliver them to plaintiff until she was paid the amount of the third note.

Defendant presented this point:

Counsel for defendant respectfully asks the court to charge the jury that under all the evidence the verdict of the jury should be for the defendant in the sum of $2,000, being the amount of the collateral note for which the bonds in suit were pledged with the Peoples's Savings Bank, with interest from December 12, 1898. Answer: Refused. [1]

The court charged as follows:

[I instruct you that under the evidence in the case and under the conceded facts in the case, it is entitled to recover. That is, that the bonds belong to it without payment of this alleged lien of $2,000, and you will, therefore, render a verdict for the plaintiff with nominal damages, that is, a verdict for the plaintiff in the sum of six and one fourth cents.]

Verdict and judgment for plaintiff for six and one fourth cents. Defendant appealed.

Errors assigned were above instructions, quoting them.

The judgment is affirmed.

Thomas Patterson, with him Henry A. Davis, for appellants. -- The Royal Arcanum was not entitled to the bonds except on repayment to the executrix of the amount for which they were pledged and which she had paid in their relief: Bosler v Exchange Bank, 4 Pa. 32; Jordan v. Sharlock, 84 Pa. 366; Light v. Leininger, 8 Pa. 403; Skiles v. Houston, 110 Pa. 254; Kirkpatrick v. McDonald, 11 Pa. 393; Thompson's App., 22 Pa. 16; Abbott v. Reeves, Buck & Co., 49 Pa. 494; McCormick v. Irwin, 35 Pa. 111; Bender v. George, 92 Pa. 36; Cottrell's App., 23 Pa. 294; Wright v. Grover & Baker S.M. Co., 82 Pa. 80; Ackerman's App., 106 Pa. 1; Miller's App., 119 Pa. 631.

James S. Young, with him J. A. Langfitt and S. U. Trent for appellee. -- The defendant, as executrix, is not entitled to be repaid the amount she paid to the pledgee before parting with the possession to the true owner of the bonds: Cottrell's App., 23 Pa. 294; Keely v. Cassidy, 93 Pa. 318; Wallace Est., 59 Pa. 401; Gring's App., 89 Pa. 336; Wagner v. Elliott, 95 Pa. 487; Zeigler v. Long, 2 Watts, 206; McGinnis's App., 16 Pa. 445; Lloyd v. Galbraith, 32 Pa. 103; Erb's App., 2 P. & W. 296; McCormick v. Irwin, 35 Pa. 111; Bender v. George, 92 Pa. 36; Miller's App., 119 Pa. 620; Fessler v. Hickernell, 82 Pa. 150; Knouf's App., 91 Pa. 78; Budd v. Oliver, 148 Pa. 194; Mosier's App., 56 Pa. 76; Webster & Goldsmith's App., 86 Pa. 409.

The payment of the note was an extinguishment of the debt, as appears from the evidence of the note itself, which is marked paid.

There is no equity in the defendant that would entitle her to subrogation, nor in the creditors of the estate to entitle them through the executrix to the benefit of the doctrine.

Even if there were equity in the defendant, and subrogation were allowed, it would be to the prejudice of the rights of the plaintiff.

The equities in favor of the plaintiff far outweigh any supposed equity in the defendant, or in the creditors who stand in the shoes of Cornelius.

The defendant was a mere volunteer, and paid the debt under no sort of compulsion, and the debt itself was one resting upon Cornelius or his estate and in nowise upon plaintiff.

The creditors are only entitled to the assets of the decedent, not to the property of others in his possession at his death. To restore these bonds to the defendant would be to enrich the estate for the benefit of the creditors at the expense of the owner of the bonds.




The undisputed facts upon which a verdict was directed for the plaintiff were these: Shortly before his death Charles E Cornelius procured three loans from the People's Savings Bank of Pittsburg on his notes with the pledge of collaterals. Each note by its terms made the collateral given with it a pledge for that note, and also for any other indebtedness then existing or which might thereafter be incurred to the bank. The securities pledged with the first and second notes belonged to Cornelius; those pledged with the third note were negotiable United States bonds which were the property of the plaintiff, the Grand Council of the Royal Arcanum, with the custody of which Cornelius had been intrusted, and his use of them was unauthorized. The notes matured after the death of Cornelius, and the defendant, his executrix, with notice of the breach of trust, offered to buy the note with which the bonds were pledged, but the bank refused to sell it. She then paid the bank the amount of all the notes with money which she had collected as executrix, and received all the collaterals. The collateral pledged with each note was more than sufficient to secure its payment, and the defendant was not required to pay the third...

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3 cases
  • Grand Council Royal Arcanum v. Cornelius
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • January 7, 1901
    ... 47 A. 1124198 Pa. 46 GRAND COUNCIL ROYAL ARCANUM v. CORNELIUS. Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. Jan. 7, 1901. Appeal from court of common pleas, Allegheny county. Replevin by the Grand Council Royal Arcanum against Katharine S. Cornelius, executrix of Charles E. Cornelius, deceased, for cert......
  • Smith v. E. End Elec. Light Co.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • January 7, 1901
    ...refusal to take off the nonsuit: "There was no evidence of actual notice to the defendant, nor as to how long the insulation of the wire 47 A. 1124 had been defective. * * * Unless we are prepared to hold that the happening of the accident is evidence of the negligence of the defendant, the......
  • Smith v. East End Electric Light Co.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • January 7, 1901

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