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March 3, 1919



White, McKenna, Holmes, Day, Van Devanter, Pitney, McReynolds, Brandeis, Clarke

Author: White

[ 249 U.S. Page 6]

 MR. CHIEF JUSTICE WHITE delivered the opinion of the court.

Following the failure in March, 1915, of the Mercantile National Bank of Pueblo, Colorado, the Receiver appointed by the Comptroller commenced this suit to recover from the Harriman National Bank of New York City $30,000, alleged to be due to the Mercantile Bank. On issue joined before a jury, the court, after refusing a request of the Harriman National Bank for a peremptory instruction directing a verdict in its favor, granted a request of like character made by the Receiver, and a judgment on the resulting verdict for the amount claimed was entered.

The case is before us on error to the judgment of the court below affirming that of the trial court, our jurisdiction to review resulting because the case from its inception involved the enforcement of the National Banking Act, and therefore, was not dependent in the trial court solely upon diversity of citizenship. Auten v.

[ 249 U.S. Page 7]

     that, whenever desired, the Harriman would be willing to make the loan, as requested. On the same day the bank wrote a letter to W. B. Slaughter, president at Pueblo, but marked it personal, repeating and confirming the telegram, and inclosing a blank form of collateral note to be executed and sent to the bank with the collateral when the money was desired.

The telegram of the first of February announcing the willingness of the Harriman Bank to make the loan having come into the hands of C. C. Slaughter on the day it was sent, he ordered a seal to be made which he said was intended as the seal of the First National Bank of Silverton, and on the fifth of February bought from a printer blank forms of certificates of stock. On the next day, Saturday the 6th, purporting to act as agent of W. B. Slaughter, C. C. Slaughter bought from Thatcher his interest in the First National of Silverton, and gave a check in the name of W. B. Slaughter and as his representative, on the Mercantile National, for $35,000 in part payment. On Sunday, February 7th, C. C. Slaughter caused a letter to be prepared falsely purporting to be written and signed by W. B. Slaughter, acknowledging the receipt of the telegram sent by the Harriman Bank on the first and asking that the loan be consummated. In this letter there was returned the collateral note which the bank had sent for execution, along with the promised collateral, that is, certificates for 400 shares of the First National of Silverton and 500 shares of the Mercantile at Pueblo. The signature of W. B. Slaughter to the note was forged and the collaterals were also forged, the first, the certificates of the Silverton Bank stock, because they were fabricated by the use of the printed certificates and seal which had been acquired a few days before and described shares which had no existence, and the second, the Mercantile Bank stock, because, although the certificates represented stock standing in the name of W. B. Slaughter on the

[ 249 U.S. Page 9]

     books of that bank, the powers of attorney purporting to have been given by W. B. Slaughter to enable them to be transferred to the Harriman Bank, were forged.

To meet the check for $35,000 given on Saturday for the Thatcher purchase, on Monday morning, February 8th, C. C. Slaughter made out a deposit slip to show the deposit by W. B. Slaughter of a check on the Harriman National for $30,000, although no such check was in fact deposited; and on that day the check in favor of Thatcher for $35,000 was paid and debited by the Mercantile to W. B. Slaughter's account. The letter of the seventh sending the note to the Harriman reached that bank on the tenth and, complying with the request it contained, a credit in favor of W. B. Slaughter for $30,000, the amount covered by the loan, was entered by the Harriman on its books.

On the seventeenth of February the Mercantile Bank overdrew its account in the Harriman to the extent of $8,000, which that bank honored. It, however, telegraphed the Mercantile, calling attention to the overdraft and asked whether a remittance to cover it had been made. The telegram, moreover, referred to the $30,000 credit in favor of W. B. Slaughter and asked whether possibly it was intended that the amount of the loan credit should be placed to the account of the bank. In reply, C. C. Slaughter dictated a telegram in the name of the Mercantile Bank instructing that the amount of the credit of W. B. Slaughter be transferred to the credit of the Mercantile. On the receipt of this telegram the Harriman made the necessary bookkeeping entries to transfer the credit of $30,000 from the account of W. B. Slaughter to that of the Mercantile National Bank. On the next ...

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