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WYLIE v. NORTHAMPTON BANK.

decided: December 13, 1886.

WYLIE
v.
NORTHAMPTON BANK.



ERROR TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK.

Author: Matthews

[ 119 U.S. Page 362]

 MR. JUSTICE MATTHEWS delivered the opinion of the court.

This was an action in law originally commenced by the plaintiff in error in the Superior Court of the City of New York, and removed by the defendant into the Circuit Court. The complaint alleged, that, on the 26th day of January, 1876, the plaintiff was the owner of eight first mortgage bonds of the Pacific Railroad Company of Missouri, for $1000 each, with coupons attached, which, at that time, were in the custody of the defendant for safe-keeping under an agreement by which the defendant agreed to keep the same safely and deliver them to her upon demand, but that on that day the defendant's bank was broken into by burglars and a large amount of property taken by them therefrom, amounting in value to over $1,600,000, consisting chiefly of bonds, stocks, and other similar securities, with some money, the property in part of the bank and of others, and including the plaintiff's bonds and coupons; and it is averred that the said loss by robbery occurred in consequence of a want of due care on the part of the defendant.

It is further alleged by the plaintiff, that, shortly after the said loss, "the plaintiff was intending and was about to enter in good faith upon negotiations and to take measures for the recovery of her said bonds and coupons and coupons from whomsoever then possessed the same; that thereafter, and about the time last mentioned, the defendant represented to the plaintiff that

[ 119 U.S. Page 363]

     the defendant was about to take measures for the recovery of the property so taken, and expected to recover all of said property in bulk, or the greater part thereof, from the persons taking the same as aforesaid, by means of rewards and other measures, and was undertaking, or about to undertake, negotiations with said person or persons, to the plaintiff unknown, for accomplishing the same; and the defendant then further represented, that it expected to receive such restoration if it was allowed to act therein in behalf of the plaintiff and in behalf of other depositors and losers who were in the same position as the plaintiff; and the defendant further represented, that it, the said defendant, was in a better position to negotiate for the restoration of said property as aforesaid, and could accomplish the same at less expense, than if the plaintiff and other individuals, owners and losers of said property, were to act in that respect independently.

"That thereupon, and at or about the time last stated, the defendant requested the plaintiff to permit and authorize the defendant to act for her and in her behalf in the respects mentioned, and in such negotiations, for the recovery of her said bonds and coupons, with the bonds, stocks, securities, and other property of the defendant and other owners and losers of property as aforesaid; and further requested the plaintiff not to undertake negotiations with, or offer rewards or other inducements to the persons who had taken or were in possession of said bonds or other property as aforesaid, for the return of the same.

"That thereupon, and relying upon such representations and all of them, the plaintiff complied with such requests of defendant, and did not undertake negotiations with or offer rewards or other inducements to such persons as aforesaid for the return of her said bonds and coupons, and permitted and authorized the defendant to act for her and in her behalf in the respects mentioned, and as requested in such and any negotiations for the recovery of her said bonds and coupons, with the bonds, stocks, securities, and other property of the defendant and other owners and losers of said property as aforesaid.

[ 119 U.S. Page 364]

     "That thereupon the said defendant undertook to act in behalf of the plaintiff in the respects mentioned, and took certain proceedings and entered into certain negotiations with the persons who had taken said property or possessed the same as aforesaid, for the recovery of the same; that some time during the years 1879 and 1880, the defendant, acting as aforesaid, recovered and received from said persons the greater part of said stolen property, taken, as aforesaid, on the 26th day of January, 1876, including a large amount of the separate property of the defendant, amounting in all, in face or par value, to about $1,500,000; and thereupon the defendant settled and compounded with said persons for all claims arising or growing out of such taking or robbery as aforesaid.

"That the difference between the amount of property so recovered, and the amount of property taken or stolen on January 26, 1876, as aforesaid, and all the property so taken and not recovered, was by the defendant allowed and agreed to be retained by and released to the said persons as a consideration or reward for the restoration of the remainder, as aforesaid. That among the securities and property so allowed and agreed to be retained and so released by the defendant were the eight bonds of the plaintiff and all the coupons thereto belonging. That the plaintiff was not informed at the time by the defendant of the terms of said agreement or arrangement between the defendant and said persons, but all the proceedings of the defendant in those respects and for the restoration of such property were concealed from the plaintiff, and she has never consented to the action of the defendant therein.

"That by means of plaintiff's said property, together with other considerations, and by the total sacrifice of the plaintiff's said property, the defendant was enabled to recover, and did recover as aforesaid, a large amount of its own property and the property of its other depositors, and has reimbursed itself for the greater part of its losses in said robbery and for the expenses which the defendant incurred in respect to the musters herein mentioned.

"That the defendant, not regarding its promises and undertakings,

[ 119 U.S. Page 365]

     did not take due care of the plaintiff's interest as aforesaid, but, on the contrary, sacrificed the same for its own advantage, and so negligently and carelessly conducted itself with respect to the plaintiff's said property and interest, and took so little care thereof, that, by and through the mere neglect and improper conduct of the defendant and its servants, and by the wilful neglect of plaintiff's said interests so committed ...


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