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McAllister & Co. v. Steamboat Sam Kirkman,
in so far as the reservation of the rights of parties to proceed at common law, may be regarded as a limitation. Nor do they reverse the principle often announced by the decisions of that court, that it is not in the competency of State authority to abrogate or supersede a maritime lien created by the national maritime law. The court undoubtedly affirm the well-established rule of law, that as to courts of concurrent jurisdiction, the court first acquiring jurisdiction will retain it free from any interference from any other court. And they also hold, that in admiralty as well as in cases at law, property in the actual custody of an officer under valid process, either from a State or federal court, is not subject to seizure or levy by process emanating from another jurisdiction. It is true, the learned Chief Justice Taney, in his very able dissenting opinion in the case, controverted this principle as applicable to cases where there was a prior admiralty lien. The majority of the court, from a laudable desire to avoid collisions with the State authorities, held that prior legal possession in a State officer withdrew the property from the jurisdiction of the admiralty court. It is not for me to make comments on the opinion of the majority of the court on this point; but it will imply no disrespect to the decision of that high tribunal to remark, what is undoubtedly true, that this doctrine of rigid non-intervention with State jurisdiction was not previously “supposed to apply in cases where its effect would be to deprive a party of a vested right under a clear admiralty lien."
But in my judgment, the decision of the Supreme Court in Taylor et al. v. Carryl, can not be viewed as having any application to the cases now under consideration. In that case, the vessel was in the actual custody and possession of the State officer under process from a State court when seized in admiralty under process from the District Court of the United States. The Supreme Court held, that the latter process did not give jurisdiction to the District Court, and that its subsequent proceedings, including the
McAllister & Co. v. Steamboat Sam Kirkman.
sale under its decree, was invalid. But in the case before this court, it is to be observed that the steamboat Kirkman, when seized at Cincinnati under the process of this court, was not in the custody of the law or of any officer of the State of Kentucky, but under the control and in the actual possession of Givens, the claimant in these cases, as the purchaser of the boat under the order of the Kentucky court. The boat was then employed in the navigation of the western rivers for the benefit and under the control of Givens. The court in Kentucky bad in fact expressed its jurisdiction, so far as the boat was concerned, by its order for the sale of the boat, and her actual sale to Givens. So far as he acquired any interest in the boat under the sale, it was his private property, but was undoubtedly subject in his hands to any lien or interest existing in favor of other parties prior to his purchase. This case does not, therefore, involve any conflict of jurisdiction between the Kentucky court and this court, or any collision between the officers of the two courts. And, therefore, the reasoning of the Supreme Court of the United States in favor of the expediency of avoiding all occasion of jealousy or hostility between the State and federal authorities does not apply. I concur fully in the soundness of the policy so forcibly and ably vindicated by the Supreme Court in the case referred to; and have studiously aimed in the performance of my judicial duties to enforce its practical observance. But I am clear that in the cases before the court its application is not called for.
A decree may be entered in favor of the libellants, McAllister & Co., the Carondelet Marine Railway and Dry Dock Company, and Spencer J. Ball, for their respective claims. The libel in the name of Bernardino Florens is dismissed at his costs.
Lee & Co. v. Chillicothe Branch Bank of Ohio.
JAMES LEE & Co. v. THE CHILLICOTHE BRANCH BANK OF THE
STATE OF Ohio.
The law does not require any particular form of words in the transfer of
negotiable paper. Any words which show an intention to transfer a note or bill, without restriction or limitation, will constitute a valid indorsement, and the indorsee, upon non-payment, may resort to the
prior parties. An indorsement on a bill of exchange of the words, “ Credit my account
James B. Scott, Cashier," is restrictive in its character, and suspends
the further transfer and negotiability of the bill. Such an indorsement is sufficient to apprise subsequent indorsees of the bill
that no authority existed authorizing a transfer to them.
H. H. Hunter and H. Stanbery, for plaintiffs.
C. D. Coffin, S. F. Vinton, and A. G. Thurman, for defendants.
OPINION OF THE COURT :
The plaintiffs, as they allege, are the holders and indorsees of fourteen bills of exchange; and this action is brought against the Chillicothe branch of the State Bank of Ohio, as the indorser of the bills. They amount in the whole to about fifty thousand dollars, and were drawn by different persons at Chillicothe, on Edwin Ludlow, cashier of the Ohio Life Insurance and Trust Company at New York, payable to the order of James B. Scott, cashier. The declaration contains a special count on each of the bills, together with the usual money counts. It is averred
. that the Chillicothe Bank indorsed the bills by “the name of James B. Scott, its cashier;" and that, not being paid at maturity, they were protested for non-payment, of which the bank had due notice.
A jury has been sworn, and the plaintiffs to sustain their action have offered in evidence the several bills re
Lee & Co. v. Chillicothe Branch Bank of Ohio.
ferred to. They are objected to by the counsel for the defendant, as not showing any title in the plaintiffs, or any right of action in them as indorsees. This objection is urged by counsel, on several grounds, which have been brought to the notice of the court, and fully argued. In the brief views I propose to submit, I shall limit myself to the question: What is the construction and legal effect of the indorsements of the bills by Scott to Ludlow. If these indorsements restricted the further negotiability of the bills, it will be obvious that Ludlow had no authority to transfer them to the plaintiffs, and they can have no standing in courts as indorsees.
The indorsements on each of the bills is in these words: “ Credit my account-James B. Scott, Cashier.” And the question presented is, whether they import an unqualified and unrestricted transfer to Ludlow, with the right to transfer to others, and thus continue their circulation as negotiable paper. This, it is insisted by the counsel for the plaintiffs, is the legal effect of the indorsement to Ludlow. On the other hand, it is claimed that the indorsements by the cashier of the Chillicothe Bank were intended solely to authorize Ludlow to hold the bills until their maturity, and receive the proceeds, and place them to the credit of the bank; and that by a fair and natural construction of the words used, the intention to restrict the further negotiability of the paper is legally inferable. Or, if the paper could in any sense have been subsequently transferred by Ludlow, it could only be on the condition and for the purpose stated in Scott's indorsement, and that this limitation applies to it in the hands of any subsequent holder or transferee.
It is not controverted that the Chillicothe Bank, as the holder of the bills, had a right to direct to whom the proceeds should be paid, and to designate the specific purpose to which they were to be applied. And the only question is, whether the words, credit my account, which precede
Lee & Co. v. Chillicothe Branch Bank of Ohio.
the signature of Scott, imply an intention to qualify and restrict the operation of the indorsements.
It is unquestionably true, that the law does not require any particular form of words in the transfer of negotiable paper. Any words which show an intention to transfer a note or bill, without restriction or limitation, will constitute a valid indorsement, and the indorsee upon nonpayment may resort to the prior parties. Indorsements, however, not intended to restrict the further negotiability of paper, are usually designated, either as in full, or in blank. Anindorsement is said to be in full when the name of the assignee or transferee is stated without any words of limitation. The usual form of a full indorsement is : Pay to A. B., or order. An indorsement in blank is perfected by the mere signature of the indorser across the back of the paper, without prefix or affix. In the latter case the paper may be subsequently transferred by delivery; but in either case it goes into circulation unclogged by any condition or limitation. These are familiar principles of commercial law, which do not require the citation of authorities to sustain them.
It would seem to be a very clear proposition that the indorsements by Scott to Ludlow do not fall within either of the classes referred to. They are not indorsements in full, because there is no designation of the assignee or transferee. They are not blank indorsements, because there are words before the signature, which have significance, and which a subsequent holder would have no authority to strike out, and thus convert them into simple indorsements in blank.
In the progress of the arguments, very full references were made to elementary writers on the law of negotiable paper, and many reported cases have been cited bearing on the question before the court. It is hardly necessary to notice these authorities in detail. It may be stated, however, that the general doctrine sustained by the authorities and cases cited, is that effect will be given to any words