Jones v. New York Guaranty and Indemnity Company

Court Documents

United States Supreme Court

101 U.S. 622

Jones  v.  New York Guaranty and Indemnity Company

APPEAL from the Circuit Court of the United States for the Eastern District of New York.

The New York Kerosene Oil Company and the New York Guaranty and Indemnity Company were corporations organized pursuant to the laws of New York.

On the 15th of February, 1867, Abraham M. Cozzens, as the president of the Oil Company, applied to the Guaranty Company for a loan of $100,000. The sum of $50,000 was advanced to him, and he thereupon delivered to the Guaranty Company the note of the Oil Company for that amount, of the date above mentioned, payable to and indorsed by A. M. Cozzens & Co., and having sixty days to run. At the same time he gave to the Guaranty Company a memorandum signed by him as such president, whereby he stipulated that he would cause to be prepared a mortgage by the Oil Company to the Guaranty Company on the real estate of the former therein mentioned, for the sum of $100,000, to be held by the latter as security for the $50,000 so lent, and for any further loan thereafter made by the Guaranty Company to the Oil Company. Cozzens thereupon procured a formal order to be made by the trustees of the Oil Company that such a mortgage should be executed, and the written consent of the holder of more than two-thirds of the stock of the Oil Company was given to the same effect. Both were necessary to the validity of the mortgage.

The capital stock of the Oil Company was $500,000, and Cozzens owned of it $493,000.

Passing by some intermediate details not necessary to be particularly stated, Cozzens caused to be prepared the bond and mortgage here in question, and both were duly executed. The counsel who prepared them made the mortgage describe the individual obligation of Cozzens as the liability to be secured instead of the debt of the company; but the mortgage recited that the Oil Company had authorized the giving of the mortgage to secure a loan of $100,000, and that Cozzens had given to the Guaranty Company his personal bond in that sum to secure advances, not to exceed that sum, to be made to Cozzens, upon the conditions in the bond mentioned, and that the requisite consent of stockholders had been given. The mortgage was conditioned for the payment by the Oil Company, and not by Cozzens, of the amount that might be due upon the instrument secured by it. The bond is set out at length in the record. It states that it was given to cover any advances then made or thereafter to be made by the Guaranty Company to Cozzens to the amount of $100,000 or less, on the condition that whenever any sum was so advanced the amount and date of the advance should be indorsed on the bond and signed by Cozzens, and that when any payment was made by Cozzens such payment should be indorsed in like manner, and that the amount which, according to the indorsements, should appear to be due on the bond should be considered as the amount due, 'and for which the premises which have this day been conveyed to the said New York Guaranty and Indemnity Company, by the New York Kerosene Oil Company, by indenture of mortgage bearing even date herewith, shall be liable, and for no greater sum.'

The mortgage and bond bear date on the 29th of April, 1867, but were delivered and took effect on the 11th of May following. The indorsements on the bond show that Cozzens received from the obligee three several advances,-one of $50,000, and two of $25,000 each. No credits are indorsed. The note of the Oil Company, indorsed and delivered to the Guaranty Company on the 15th of February previous, when the first loan of $50,000 was made, was renewed when the bond and mortgage were delivered, and the amount was indorsed on the bond as an advance of that date. It was renewed several times subsequently, and the Guaranty Company holds the last renewal. When one of the advances of $25,000 was made, a note of the Oil Company for that amount to Cozzens & Co. was indorsed and delivered as collateral. That note was also renewed from time to time, and the last renewal is held by the Guaranty Company.

When the other advance of $25,000 was made, a warehouse receipt for oil, given by the Oil Company to Cozzens, was indorsed and delivered as a collateral. The receipt proved worthless. Nothing was ever received upon it. It is not controverted that the Oil Company owed Cozzens more than $100,000 for his advances to it, nor that every dollar of the loans in question were used for its benefit. Not the slightest taint of dishonesty is shown in these transactions, nor is any thing disclosed which warrants the suspicion of such a purpose.

The Oil Company was expressly authorized by the act under which it was organized to secure the payment of its debts theretofore or thereafter 'contracted by it in the business for which it was incorporated, by mortgaging any or all real estate of such corporation,' and it was declared that 'every mortgage so made shall be as valid to all intents and purposes as if executed by an individual owning such real estate.'

In March, 1868, Cozzens and the Oil Company became insolvent. Their paper went to protest. The business of the latter for the time was ruinous, and both were engulfed in the vortex of common disasters. Cozzens died about a week afterwards. 'His death was caused by his failure. His physician said so.' The unsecured creditors attacked the validity of the mortgage. The Circuit Court sustained it, and the controversy has been brought here for review.

Mr. Benjamin F. Tracy for the appellant.

Mr. George F. Comstock and Mr. William Allen Butler, contra.

MR. JUSTICE SWAYNE, after making the foregoing statement, delivered the opinion of the court.


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).