Bonnaffe Company v. Williams/Opinion of the Court

United States Supreme Court

44 U.S. 574

Bonnaffe Company  v.  Williams

This is a writ of error from the southern district of Mississippi.

The plaintiffs brought their action on four promissory notes, payable at different times, for different sums, and bearing different dates, except two, which were dated the 23d January, 1839. In each of the notes the defendants promised, or either of them, to pay to Cowles Meade, or bearer, for the use of the Real Estate Banking Company of Hinds county, at their banking house in Clinton, the sum named, without defalcation, for value received.

The defendants demurred to the declaration, and assigned the following causes of demurrer:

1. 'The plaintiffs cannot maintain the action, because, by their own showing, the defendants who are sued are also a part of the persons for whose use the suit is commenced.'

2. 'The court can have no jurisdiction of this case, because, although it is true, the nominal plaintiffs are the bearers of the paper sued on, and citizens of a state other than Mississippi, yet, those for whose benefit suit is brought, for any thing which appears in the declaration, are citizens of the state of Mississippi.'

The notes in question passed by delivery, and the plaintiffs, as bearers, have a right to sue in their own names, as the promise to pay is made to bearer. The plaintiffs allege that they are citizens of New York, and, consequently, the Circuit Court had jurisdiction of the case. Where the citizenship of the parties give jurisdiction, and the legal right to sue is in the plaintiff, the court will not inquire into the residence of those who may have an equitable interest in the claim. They are not necessary parties on the record. A person having the legal right may sue, at law, in the federal courts, without reference to the citizenship of those who may have the equitable interest. Irvine v. Lowry, 14 Pet., 298. The judgment of the Circuit Court, which sustained the demurrer, is reversed; and the cause is remanded for further proceedings.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).