Duncan v. Jaudon

Duncan v. Jaudon by David Davis
Court Documents

United States Supreme Court

82 U.S. 165

Duncan  v.  Jaudon

APPEAL from a decree of the Circuit Court for the Southern District of New York. The case was thus:

In 1833 Commodore William Bainbridge, a resident of Philadelphia, died, leaving four daughters, one of whom was Mary T. B., subsequently the wife of Charles Jaudon. By his will he left to two trustees a considerable sum of money, directing them to invest the same in the stocks of the United States, or the stocks or funds of any individual State, and to hold the same in trust for his several daughters; one-fourth for his daughter Mary, the interest to be paid to her, 'for her sole use and benefit during her natural life, and at the end of her natural life, the amount so invested to be equally divided between her children.' The property left by the Commodore was invested by his trustees as the will directed, chiefly in five per cent. loans of Pennsylvania, and the interest was properly paid to the daughters. The interest received from the Pennsylvania loans, five per cent., was less than the cestui que trusts were content with; but the trustees appointed in the will would not depart from the directions imposed on them by it as to the class of investments in which they could invest; and becoming thus unacceptable to the cestui que trusts, they were discharged, in 1835, at their own request, from their trust, and surrendered the estate under their care to Samuel Jaudon, whom, on the consent of Mrs. Jaudon, the court appointed, without security, to be trustee, in the place of the trustees named in the will. [1]

The Pennsylvania five per cent. stock was now soon sold, and the proceeds invested by Samuel Jaudon in the stock of the Delaware and Raritan Canal Company, according to an arrangement previously made with the cestui que trusts; the new stock being one of a high character in its class, and which has paid for many years, with great regularity, ten per cent. a year dividend, with occasional large extra dividends. Mrs. M. T. B. Jaudon got thus finally 117 shares of this stock. The certificates, of which there were several, all ran thus:

'This is to certify that S. Jaudon, trustee for Mrs. Mary T. B. Jaudon, is entitled to seventy shares in the capital stock of the Delaware and Raritan Canal Company . . . Transferable on the books of the Company, and on surrender of this certificate only by him or his legal representative.'

This investment was made very soon after the new trustee was appointed. A similar one was made for all the sisters, and was perfectly agreeable to them all. Mrs. Jaudon considered that the trustee was 'acting very judiciously, and was very glad of it.'

In this state of things Samuel Jaudon, who had been dealing largely on his own account in a stock known as 'Broad Top Coal Stock,' a speculative stock of no established value, applied in 1865 to the National City Bank of New York to lend him money on 47 shares of this canal stock. They agreed to do so, and he delivered to the cashier of the bank the certificates standing in his name as trustee, executing also a power of attorney to sell in case of nonpayment of the loan; the power describing him as 'S. Jaudon, trustee for Mrs. M. T. B. Jaudon,' and he signing himself in the same way. This dealing of Jaudon with the City Bank, based on the stock in question, and commencing in 1865, extended through a term of two years. During this time ten separate loans were made to him on the pledge of the 47 shares of the canal stock. The securities were returned to Jaudon whenever he paid up the amount of a loan, and redelivered to the bank each time a new loan was effected. In December, 1867, when the last loan matured, the bank, being unwilling to renew it, and Jaudon unable to pay it, sold the stock by the direction of Jaudon, and applied the proceeds of the sale to the payment of its debt.

A few months prior to this sale, that is to say, in July, 1867, Jaudon, wanting more money, applied to Duncan, Sherman & Co., bankers of New York, with one of which firm, William Butler Duncan, he had had ancient relations, and with whom alone he spoke in the matter, for a loan of $7000 at 90 days; telling him that he had securities to offer, and naming them,-the remaining 70 shares of the canal stock, like that pledged to the bank, declared on its face to be 'in trust for Mrs. M. T. B. Jaudon.' 'Upon the faith of the collaterals,' and 'to oblige' Jaudon, the proposition was accepted by Mr. Duncan, who told his cashier to attend to the matter. The cashier accordingly lent Jaudon the money, taking the certificates for the 70 shares, and a power to sell like those in the other case, in which he both described and signed himself as 'trustee of Mrs. M. T. B. Jaudon.' Jaudon failing on the maturity of the loan to pay it, the stock was sold. There was no evidence that any of the principals of the house of Duncan, Sherman & Co. had seen the certificates or powers, or had any personal knowledge of the fact that Mrs. Jaudon claimed any interest in them. But their clerk did see the certificates; and it was testified by Mr. W. B. Duncan, that 'without the collaterals he certainly would not have made the loan.'

Mrs. Jaudon was absolutely ignorant of all that was done, until after the stock was sold, when Samuel Jaudon disclosed the history to her.

There was no doubt that every one of these loans, whether by the City Bank or by Duncan, Sherman & Co., were to Jaudon in his personal character and for his individual use, and that the money obtained was applied to discharge liabilities incurred in the purchase or carrying of the Broad Top coal stock, in which he was at the time dealing on his own account; taking in his own name, and without the exhibition of any trust whatever, certificates for what he bought.

Jaudon being insolvent, Mrs. Jaudon now filed a bill in the court below against him, Duncan, Sherman & Co., and the National City Bank, to reach the proceeds of the property which he had disposed of. Jaudon was himself examined as a witness, and narrated with apparent general candor the history of the transaction. He stated, however, in reply to questions inviting such answers, that from his conversations with his sister-in-law (the complainant), it was his general understanding that any changes in investment which he deemed advisable would be approved by her; and that if the investment in Broad Top stock had resulted as he had anticipated, her income would have been further increased; and that in making a purchase of the stock his intention was 'to surprise her by giving her something that was worth a great deal more than all the rest.' With all this he stated, however, that he had never had any conversation whatever with his sister-in-law on the subject of changing the investment made in the canal stock.

The court below decreed that Duncan, Sherman & Co. should account for the value of the 70 shares pledged to them and sold, with the dividends and other proceeds that would have been received thereon, including interest on the dividends had they not been diverted from the trust. And that the bank should do the same by the 47 shares pledged to them and sold.

Both Duncan, Sherman & Co. and the City Bank appealed.

Mr. W. W. McFarland, for Duncan, Sherman & Co.; Mr. W. H. Arnoux, for the National City Bank, appellant:

Assuming that both of the defendants are to be charged with constructive notice that the stock in question was held subject to some trust, from the circumstance that the word trustee appeared upon the face of the certificates, a presumption impossible to make in regard to Duncan, Sherman & Co., no member of which firm ever saw the certificates-such notice cast upon the defendants no other duty than that of ascertaining whether the power to sell and buy securities, ordinarily attending the title to such securities, had been in this case lawfully withheld from the trustee by the terms of the trust. [2]

While in the case of executors the law implies the power to dispose of the personal assets, and a purchaser may, as a rule, assume its existence without inquiry, and while in the case of strict trustees, where the purchaser has notice of the existence of the trust, it may be necessary for him to ascertain that the power of sale has not been withheld by the terms of the trust; nevertheless, unless it has been withheld, and the trustee is therefore unable to sell without committing a breach of trust, the principles of law, which govern both cases, are from that point forward the same, and are so treated in all the authorities.

In cases where it is the duty of the purchaser to inquire into the trustee's power to sell, and he finds that he possesses this power, and may sell, without by the act of sale committing a breach of trust, he has the right to presume, as the law presumes, in favor of honesty and against fraud. [3]

There are a few cases in which the purchaser is bound to see to the application of the purchase-money. To this class the foregoing observations are of course inapplicable, but to this class the case at bar does not belong.

2. A pledge or mortgage stands upon the same footing, and is governed by the same principles as a sale, it being but a part execution of the larger power, and the exercise of which may be just as beneficial to the beneficiaries. [4]

3. There was no violation of the trust in question by the trustee in disposing of the canal stock. It did not even belong to any of the classes of securities in which the testator expressed a desire to have his estate invested. For aught that the defendants knew, it might have been the intention, as perhaps it was the duty of the trustee, by raising the money in question, to reinvest the trust funds in the class of securities contemplated by the testator. The testator's express desire in regard to the character of the investment of the trust funds, was disregarded with the consent and at the solicitation of the beneficiaries, in hopes of thus securing a larger income.

4. The evidence of Mr. Jaudon shows that it was left largely to him by this cestui que trust, his sister-in-law, in what security to invest. There had been a complete departure from the terms of the will by the investment in canal shares. The change to Broad Top stock was no greater than that was. Mr. Jaudon considered the Broad Top a promising investment, and hoped to surprise his sister-in-law by a most agreeable accession to her income. He meant to reinvest the trust moneys produced by the sale of canal shares in this new stock. This, no doubt, it was wrong in him to do; but not more wrong than what he had already done; and in one case, as in the other, he meant all for the best. But the canal stock having been sold really to make a trust reinvestment, neither Duncan, Sherman & Co., nor the bank can be made liable for the failure of the new fund; though, of course, Mr. Jaudon can be for violating the directions of his testator.

Mr. T. R. Strong, contra.

Mr. Justice DAVIS delivered the opinion of the court.


  1. The new trustee was a brother of Charles Jaudon, the husband of Mrs M. T. B. Jaudon.
  2. Ashton v. Atlantic Bank, 3 Allen, 217; Albert v. Savings Bank, 1 Maryland Chancery Decisions, 408; Atkinson v. Atkinson. 8 Allen, 15; Pennsylvania Life Insurance Co. v. Austin, 42 Pennsylvania State, 257; Garrard v. Pittsburg and Connellsville, &c., Co., 29 Id. 154; Dodson v. Simpson, 2 Randolph, 294; Tillinghast v. Champlin, 4 Rhode Island, 173, 213; Field v. Schieffelin, 7 Johnson's Chancery, 160; McLeod v. Drummond 14 Vesey, 353.
  3. Broom's Legal Maxims, 911?
  4. Petrie v. Clark, 11 Sergeant & Rawle, 388; Miles v. Durnford, 2 Simons (New Series), 234; Russell v. Plaice, 18 Bevan, 21.

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).