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MODART, INC. v. PENROSE INDUS. CORP.

September 20, 1967

MODART, INC. and Park & Tilford (a Corporation)
v.
PENROSE INDUSTRIES CORPORATION and Sun Ray Drug Co.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: VAN DUSEN

 VAN DUSEN, Circuit Judge (sitting by designation).

 By order of May 11, 1965 (Document 6), Leon J. Obermayer was appointed:

 
"* * * Conservator pursuant to Rule 66 of the Rules of Federal Procedure to investigate all aspects of the * * * sale and determine whether the sale made by Sun Ray to Marrud, Incorporated, under the Sale Agreement is in the best interest of creditors, and to take appropriate action in the interest of creditors before this Court consistent with the findings and conclusions in respect thereto. The said Conservator shall have the rights, powers and duties similar to those of a Receiver with respect to the foregoing matters, in accordance with the aforesaid Federal Rule of Civil Procedure No. 66.
 
* * *
 
"The Conservator shall forthwith be entitled to and shall take into his possession all funds payable for any reason whatsoever by Marrud, Incorporated, to Sun Ray under the provisions of the Sale Agreement * * *." *fn1"

 Petitioner Joscar Company seeks court permission to levy execution on funds in the hands of the Conservator in satisfaction of a judgment entered by default in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York on April 7, 1965, and docketed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on September 22, 1965.

 Given the order of May 11, 1965 (Document 6, quoted in part above), the general principles of receivership law apply to this petition and presumably would apply regardless of the designation used to characterize Mr. Obermayer's role in assistance of this court. See, e.g., High, Receivers, § 182 (4th Ed. 1910).

 According to the cases and treatises, the rights of creditors to the property in possession of the receiver are fixed as of the moment of his appointment, e.g., American Surety Co. v. Finletter, 274 F. 152 (3rd Cir. 1921); In re United Security Trust Co., 321 Pa. 276, 184 A. 106 (1936); 31 Pa.L.Encyc., "Receivers," § 211 (p. 171); 1 Clark on Receivers, § 649(b) (p. 915, 2d Ed. 1929). Accordingly, all valid, pre-existing liens on the property continue despite the receivership, e.g., Philadelphia Trust Co. v. Northumberland County Traction Co., 258 Pa. 152, 101 A. 970 (1917); 75 C.J.S. Receivers § 128, p. 766, and all other claims continue their status as of the appointment date. E.g., Merchantile Trust Co. v. Southern States Land & Timber Co., 86 F. 711 (5th Cir. 1898).

 Petitioner Joscar Company alleged that it had a "vested property right" to issue execution on its judgment. But the law of receivership does not recognize or grant any special status to this particular claim, be it a "vested right" or not.

 
"A judgment may or may not by statute constitute a lien on all or part of the judgment debtor's property. A judgment which constitutes a lien on part or all of the judgment debtor's property before appointment of a receiver still constitutes a lien after appointment, and the appointment will not disturb it. Ordinarily, judgment debts unless they are liens have no priority over simple debts." [Citing In Re Lord & Polk Chemical Co., 7 Del.Ch. 248, 265, 44 A. 775 (1895).] 1 Clark on Receivers § 685 (p. 994). *fn3"

 Furthermore, the extraordinary equitable relief of a receivership also means that even if a valid lien has been acquired before appointment, once the court's jurisdiction attaches, all proceedings to enforce the lien are suspended unless leave of court is obtained. See, e.g., 53 C.J. § 160 (pp. 132-133); 75 C.J.S. Receivers § 130, p. 767, § 135, p. 777; 1 Clark on Receivers § 611(a) (p. 835), § 646 (p. 910). Grosscup v. German Savings & Loan Society, 162 F. 947, 950 (C.C.D.Ore.1908). The court, siting in equity, has great discretion in whether or not to allow proceedings pursuant to an established lien or allow efforts to perfect a lien. A pre-existing contractual remedy between creditor and debtor would bind the receiver and, through the constitutional protection of contracts, would control the court's exercise of discretion, e.g., Meehan v. Connell Anthracite Mining Co., 318 Pa. 481, 178 A. 833 (1935). But Joscar Company has no such contractual remedy in this case, and, of course, it has no secured claim which would force the court to grant any "equitable levy." Cf. Atlantic Trust Co. v. Dana, 128 F. 209 (9th Cir. 1903).

 Joscar's petition accordingly cannot be granted because their judgment does not constitute a valid lien and because it would defeat the purposes of this equity receivership to allow them to levy execution against the Conservator now, or at any future time. *fn4" The judgment in the United States District Court in New York constituted a lien on real estate there according to the judgment lien law of New York, N.Y. Lien Law, McKinney's Consol.Laws, c. 33, §§ 40-64; N.Y.C.P.L.R. § 5018; 28 U.S.C. § 1962. No judgment was docketed in Pennslvania until several months after the appointment of the Conservator. Thus Joscar Company acquired no lien on real estate in Philadelphia County, 28 U.S.C. § 1962, 12 ...


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