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U.S. Supreme Court

Lake Benton First Nat'l Bank v. Watt, 184 U.S. 151 (1902)

Lake Benton First National Bank v. Watt

No. 103

Submitted January 15, 1902

Decided February 24, 1902

184 U.S. 151


The provision in Rev.Stat. § 5198, that

"in case the greater rate of interest has been paid, the person by whom it has been paid, or his legal representatives, may recover back, in an action in the nature of debt, twice the amount of the interest thus paid,"

on the one hand, causes a forfeiture of the entire interest to result from the taking, receiving, reserving or charging a rate greater than is allowed by law, and on the other subjects the creditor to pay twice the amount of the interest illegally exacted if, by persistence in wrongdoing, he subjects the debtor to the necessity of suing to recover.

By this action, which was commenced in a court of the State of Minnesota, recovery was sought from the First National Bank

Page 184 U. S. 152

of Lake Benton, Minnesota, plaintiff in error here, of twice the amount of the entire interest which it was alleged had been paid to that bank by Watt, plaintiff below, who is the defendant in error on this record. The right to the relief was based on the averment that the bank had, in violation of the law of the United States, received from Watt usurious interest. The cause was tried to a jury and a verdict returned in favor of Watt. From an order denying a motion for a new trial, an appeal was taken to the Supreme Court of the State of Minnesota, and that court affirmed the judgment. 76 Minn. 458. Upon the return of the record to the trial court, judgment was entered on the verdict of the jury. Another appeal was then taken, and the judgment was affirmed. 79 Minn. 266. The case was then brought to this Court by writ of error.

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