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U.S. Supreme Court

California National Bank v. Stateler, 171 U.S. 447 (1898)

California National Bank v. Stateler

No. 37

Submitted May 4, 1898

Decided October 17, 1898

171 U.S. 447


This case is dismissed because the judgment below was not a final judgment, the settled rule being that if a superior court makes a decree fixing the liability and rights of the parties and refers the case to a master or subordinate court for a judicial purpose, such, for instance, as a statement of account upon which a further decree is to be entered, the decree is not final.

This was an intervening petition by Stateler in the case just decided of California National Bank v. Thomas, ante, 171 U. S. 441, to obtain the possession of the sum of $27,500 paid to the plaintiff Chetwood by the defendants Thompson and Wilson in the settlement of the suit of Chetwood against them as codefendants with Thomas.

Pending the insolvency and winding-up proceedings of the California National Bank, and subsequent to the appointment of a receiver by the Comptroller of the Currency, the petitioner, Stateler, was elected "agent" by the stockholders, pursuant to the Act of Congress of August 3, 1892, c. 360, 27 Stat. 345. As this act provided that the person so elected agent

"shall hold, control and dispose of the assets and property of such association which he may receive under the terms hereof, for the benefit of the shareholders of such association,"

Stateler applied by affidavit to the Superior Court of the City and County of San Francisco, in which the Chetwood action was then pending, for an order upon the plaintiff Chetwood to appear and show cause why the moneys collected of Thompson and Wilson, as well as certain stock and other securities, should not be turned over to the affiant as such agent.

The motion was opposed upon the ground that, of the whole number of 2,000 shares, 1,020 shares only were voted to elect Stateler as agent of the bank, and that they were either owned or controlled by Richard P. Thomas, the former president, against whom there was a judgment outstanding in

Page 171 U. S. 448

favor of the stockholders in the amount of $139,419, besides an unpaid assessment of $20,000, levied upon him as a stockholder by the Comptroller of the Currency.

Upon affidavits read at the hearing of the motion, the court denied the order prayed for, whereupon Stateler appealed to the supreme court of the state. That court held that the regularity of the appointment of the agent could not be questioned in a proceeding of this kind inasmuch as it had been approved by the Comptroller of the Currency, and that the agent's demand to have the money paid over to him should have been granted. The court thereupon reversed the order

"with directions to the trial court to enter the order prayed for, after making reasonable allowance to the plaintiff Chetwood for his costs, disbursements, and attorney's fees in said action as contemplated by law."

An application for a hearing in bank was made, and denied by the supreme court, whereupon the bank and Chetwood, as representative stockholder and the party upon whom the order was made, sued out a writ of error from this Court, which the defendants in error moved to dismiss.

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