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Rosee v. Board of Trade

OPINION FILED OCTOBER 12, 1976.

BERNHARD ROSEE, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE-APPELLANT,

v.

BOARD OF TRADE OF THE CITY OF CHICAGO ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES. — (JAMES E. BAGGOT, JR., ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS.)



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. NATHAN M. COHEN, Judge, presiding.

MR. PRESIDING JUSTICE GOLDBERG DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

After a lengthy and complicated hearing before the circuit court without a jury, Bernhard Rosee (plaintiff) recovered a judgment for actual damages of $339,139.42 against Baggot, Morrison and Haywood, jointly and severally; and judgments for exemplary damages of $150,000 each against Morrison and Haywood. At the close of plaintiff's case, the trial court entered a judgment in favor of the Board of Trade of the City of Chicago, an Illinois corporation (Board), six individuals constituting members of the Committee of Arbitration of the Board and a number of other individuals who were officials of said Board. Defendants Baggot, Morrison and Haywood filed separate notices of appeal. Plaintiff appealed from the judgment in favor of the Board and the various individuals associated therewith. With leave of court, defendant Haywood has adopted the briefs of Baggot and Morrison and has also filed a brief of his own. We will consider all of these appeals in this opinion.

In this court, defendant Morrison urges that the defendants did not receive a fair trial so that the judgment against him must be reversed; the trial court misapprehended the meaning of margins and the settlement process as applicable to Board of Trade transactions; the judgment is not justified by the evidence; an award made by the Committee of Arbitration of the Board is final in the absence of fraud; plaintiff failed to sustain his burden of proving fraud and that the trial court erred in awarding damages to plaintiff upon a remote, conjectural and speculative basis. In this last contention, Morrison deals with the status of Rosee's account with Baggot and Morrison (B & M): the alleged loss of profit by plaintiff; the value of plaintiff's Board of Trade membership and the allowance of punitive damages.

In his separate brief, Baggot urges that plaintiff failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that Baggot conspired to remove plaintiff from membership on the Board of Trade or otherwise engaged in fraudulent conduct resulting in damage to plaintiff. In this section of his argument, Baggot contends that the evidence clearly established that he was not part of any conspiracy to deprive plaintiff of his membership; the evidence established that Baggot could not have profited from the fraudulent conduct he was charged with; by his conduct plaintiff admitted that he was indebted to B & M; the evidence demonstrated that account No. 35 belonged to plaintiff; the accuracy of records maintained by B & M and the validity of a claim prosecuted by Morrison against plaintiff before the Committee of Arbitration were confirmed by independent investigations made by experts in the field of commodity trading and that the evidence upon which plaintiff relies is weak and misleading. Baggot also contends that the award of the Committee of Arbitration was final and decided the entire controversy; the trial court erred in interfering with this award in the absence of proof of extrinsic fraud and the trial court improperly awarded speculative, remote and uncertain damages. In this final point, Baggot considers the alleged net equity position in plaintiff's account with B & M, plaintiff's alleged loss of profits and the loss of plaintiff's membership on the Board of Trade.

Plaintiff has filed an answer to the separate briefs of defendants Baggot and Morrison. By way of introduction, plaintiff sets forth the proper standard for review; the existence of a fiduciary relation between plaintiff and defendants and the proof required to establish fraud and conspiracy. Plaintiff maintains that defendants improperly relied on an opinion rendered by a judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. Plaintiff then urges that the overwhelming weight of the evidence supports the judgment of the trial court against Baggot, Morrison and Haywood; the arbitration proceedings before the Board were a sham and that there was no trial error which would warrant a new trial. In this connection plaintiff disputes the contentions that the trial court was prejudiced against defendants and failed to understand margins and the settlement process and plaintiff contests the argument raised by defendants regarding the length and lack of continuity in the trial proceedings. Plaintiff finally defends the award of damages on the ground that this result was founded upon a firm evidentiary basis and was not palpably erroneous.

Plaintiff has also filed a separate brief in connection with his appeal from the final orders dismissing James J. Coughlin, the Board of Trade, its officers and members of its Committee of Arbitration. Plaintiff here urges that he established a prima facie case against the Board defendants and that the arbitration proceedings were conducted in an arbitrary and illegal fashion so that the decision of the Committee of Arbitration as confirmed by the Committee of Appeals of said Board of Trade was void and illegal.

The Board and remaining associated individuals in response to plaintiff's brief contend that plaintiff has shifted his theory on appeal and that he has failed to show by clear and convincing evidence that the Board defendants conspired and committed acts of fraud against him. These defendants further urge that the judgment in their favor is not manifestly contrary to the weight of the evidence so that it should be affirmed; plaintiff's contentions that the arbitration proceedings were a sham and illegal are without merit; the judgment in this regard is supported by the weight of the evidence; there is no evidence of conspiracy or fraud on the part of the Board and the individuals and plaintiff has no claim against them even if the arbitration award were erroneous. These defendants finally contend that plaintiff has admitted that he produced no evidence against them at trial.

Our study and analysis of the voluminous record and consideration of all of the arguments raised by counsel have convinced us that we need not pass upon each and all of the contentions above outlined to reach what we believe to be a proper disposition of this appeal. However, a recital of the pertinent facts is essential.

Plaintiff has been a trader in commodities since 1925. He has had considerable trading experience in commodities on various exchanges in New York City, in Liverpool and London, on the Winnipeg Grain Exchange and on the Chicago Board of Trade. He has been a member of the Board of Trade since 1944. The defendants Baggot and Morrison were members of the Board and their partnership, known as Baggot & Morrison (B & M), was a clearing member of the clearing corporation of the Board. During all times material hereto, commencing about March 1958, plaintiff did business with B & M who cleared his trading transactions. Defendant Harris Haywood was employed by B & M and, starting in 1958, acted as office manager.

Plaintiff alleged in his complaint filed in the circuit court that his membership in the Board gave him various valuable rights and privileges including the right to pay a far lower commission for his trades than would be charged in corresponding transactions carried out for nonmembers of the Board. Plaintiff also alleged that, commencing during 1956, certain defendants (Julius Mayer, Thomas E. Hosty, Wilbert E. Huge, Robert L. David, Robert C. Liebenow, Warren W. Lebeck) entered into a conspiracy with the Board for the purpose of depriving plaintiff of his membership in the Board and destroying his business and livelihood. Plaintiff alleged that in 1959 the defendants Baggot, Morrison and Haywood, and other unknown persons, joined in this conspiracy and broadened its scope to include the embezzlement and conversion of plaintiff's funds. The complaint described various overt acts allegedly performed in furtherance of the conspiracy including the charge that defendants knowingly caused a false claim to be filed against plaintiff with the Board of Trade and then compelled plaintiff to submit to proceedings before the Committee of Arbitration.

Plaintiff alleged that the individual defendants comprising the Committee of Arbitration (Sidney C. Hamper, Martin H. Milek, Roy C. Loftus, Richard Rose, Raymond A. Comenzo and Thomas E. Herr), along with Board member James J. Coughlin, also joined in this conspiracy about July 1960 and that they performed various overt acts alleged in the complaint. The complaint alleged that these defendants caused an award to be entered against plaintiff in favor of defendant Morrison which they knew was false and fraudulent. As a result of this award, plaintiff's membership privileges were suspended and, in July 1963, his membership in the Board was sold by the defendants. Plaintiff claimed damages of $44,537.75 allegedly owed to him by the firm of B & M, $8800 as the value of his membership in the Board, and also profits of $300,000 which he would have earned during his natural life expectancy, together with punitive damages of $1 million.

In a second count to the complaint, plaintiff further alleged that the claim filed against him by defendant Morrison was known by said defendant and by the arbitrators to be false and fraudulent but that the claim was submitted to arbitration pursuant to Rule 130 of the rules and regulations of the Board. Plaintiff alleged that the arbitration proceedings and the ensuing award were unlawful and therefore wholly null and void for various specified reasons. Plaintiff alleged that after the award had been made he appealed to the Committee of Appeals of the Board which affirmed the award. This decision was alleged to be unlawful. Plaintiff sought a declaration that the award, his suspension and the sale of his membership in the Board, were unlawful, null and void. Plaintiff prayed allowance against the Board and the individual defendants associated therewith of the same amount of damages and punitive damages claimed in the first count of the complaint.

This complaint was filed in the circuit court on July 12, 1963. Prior thereto, after denial of plaintiff's appeal by the Committee of Appeals (on February 15, 1961), plaintiff filed other proceedings in the circuit court (then the superior court) and in the United States District Court for this district. The various appeals taken after the disposition of this other litigation were resolved adversely to plaintiff. Plaintiff had originally joined as defendants in his complaint in the circuit court, two individuals, Albert W. Kibby and Sam Gordon, who were agents and employees of the Commodity Exchange Authority of the United States. As will later be shown, this agency had made an audit of the books of B & M. Plaintiff's complaint had alleged that the defendants Kibby and Gordon had refused to take action even though they had full knowledge that B & M had converted plaintiff's funds and charged trades made by other persons to plaintiff's account.

The United States Attorney appeared in circuit court in behalf of defendants Kibby and Gordon. On his motion the cause was removed to the United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. After extensive discovery in that court, a motion for summary judgment was made in behalf of defendants Kibby and Gordon. On June 13, 1966, the court entered an order granting the motion of said defendants for summary judgment. This was done on the theory that the record did not disclose any basis for asserting a claim against the United States or any facts which would give rise to an action against Federal officials. In a lengthy opinion the district court expressly refrained from passing on other issues presented by the pleadings and, under principles of limited Federal jurisdiction, remanded the balance of the cause to the circuit court.

In this court, defendant Morrison in his brief quoted portions of the opinion of the district court. He filed an appendix to his brief which included, as the first 78 pages thereof, a copy of the opinion of the district court. In plaintiff's brief he described the use of the district court proceedings as "an apparent flagrant attempt to prejudice" this court. Plaintiff submitted that any reference to the opinion of the district court was unwarranted and would "unduly mislead this Court."

Subsequently, plaintiff filed a written motion requesting the court to take judicial notice of an order entered in the proceedings in the district court on June 24, 1976. This order contained a supplemental finding modifying the district court's opinion in support of the remandment order entered ten years earlier and was entered "for the limited purpose of amending said opinion to clarify the original finding * * *." In the order, the district court stated that the deficits of plaintiff referred to in the court's original opinion were contained in and based upon a false and fraudulent document tendered to the court by the government. There was no finding or showing that defendants participated in the preparation or submission of this document.

Plaintiff also filed a motion that this court take judicial notice of a transcript of proceedings, a copy of which was appended to the motion. These proceedings consist of 116 pages of typewritten material certified by the official court reporter for the United States District Court, reflecting extensive argument of counsel and some testimony submitted to the district court on October 17, 1973, which resulted in the entry of the aforesaid order on June 24, 1976. Defendants Baggot and Morrison filed objections to these motions. Thereafter plaintiff filed a supplemental brief in response to the objections of these defendants.

By these latest documents the positions of counsel became completely reversed. Defendants now take the position that this court should not consider the tendered transcript of proceedings before the district court on October 17, 1973, or the order entered June 24, 1976. On the other hand, plaintiff now contends that this court should consider the subsequent statements made by various counsel to the district court as reflected in the transcript as well as the subsequent order entered by the district court. We have examined this entire mass of material and the legal arguments advanced by counsel.

The entire opinion of the district court was directed to the issue before that court as to whether the motion of the defendants Albert W. Kibby and Sam Gordon for summary judgment should be granted. As shown, the district court granted this motion and then, acting upon proper principles of limited Federal jurisdiction, expressly abstained from passing upon any of the remaining issues in the case which were later heard in the circuit court and are presently before this court. The district court simply remanded the cause to the State court. The proceedings held in the district court on October 17, 1973, and the order of modification entered on June 24, 1976, were both entered long after the proceedings in the circuit court had been completed. It is, therefore, our duty simply to review the result reached by the circuit court in accordance with the law of Illinois. In so doing we will neither consider nor be influenced by any of the proceedings taken or orders entered in the United States District Court.

As another preliminary matter, we note that, in the separate brief filed by defendant Haywood pursuant to permission from this court, he raised the point regarding his alleged lack of mental competency. This brief described the testimony of Haywood in the circuit court as being contradictory and confused and took the position that a hearing should have been conducted regarding his competency. The brief also urged that the issue of Haywood's competence had not been waived. Plaintiff has filed a response to this brief stating in strong language that the issue of competency has been waived and that it was never presented to the trial court through the entire trial proceedings. As will later appear, the view which we take of this entire record and the result which will be stated in this opinion make it unnecessary for us to consider these contentions.

As another preliminary matter, it is necessary that we state a summary of the esoteric facts relating to the operation of the Board of Trade and the business of B & M in relation to the activities of traders such as plaintiff. Futures contracts are originally bought and sold by word of mouth complemented by a series of hand signals transmitted upon the floor of the exchange by various traders. These futures contracts, originating as verbal agreements, are initially recorded on trading cards. Each trader has a trading card for each day upon which he lists all completed transactions. The cards are printed on both sides. One side is blue for recording of purchases of futures contracts and the other side is red for listing sales. If properly filled out and completed, the card should show as to each and every transaction the name of the executing trader, the number of bushels involved, the grain or other commodity involved, the maturity month of the contract in question, the price, the name of the firm which is the other principal in the transaction and the initials of the other brokers. A busy trader who engaged in a number of transactions might use more than one card. These cards are generally executed on the floor of the trading pit by both individuals and then are given to the clearing members of both of the individual traders. Thus the buyer and seller in any given transaction would each have a card, with information in one case on the red side and the other on the blue, reflecting the transaction. This practice is essential because every trade must be confirmed by two clearing members of the clearing corporation which is operated by the Board. All of the trading cards are retained as a permanent record by the clearing firm. There is evidence that on busy days the firm of B & M might accumulate 60 or 70 of these cards.

In the usual course of business of B & M, at the close of trading each day information from the trading cards was transferred to work sheets and other accounting records. One type of work sheet shows individual traders by name or account number, the product involved in their futures contracts and the quantities held and traded. Every trader's open commodity positions as of the start of the day's trading session are listed at the bottom of this sheet for trades that had been cleared through B & M. The day's trades are all reflected in figures at the top portion of the sheet.

Every morning each floor trader was given a "position card" which reflected his open position, the quantity of each commodity that he held as an unliquidated trade. This position was either long or short depending upon the status of the trader's account. Thus, a trader who had sold 100,000 bushels of soybeans on one day and had bought 50,000 bushels on that same day would have an open position in that he would still be 50,000 bushels short on soybeans. This information would be reflected on the position card.

In addition, every floor trader who dealt with B & M received a purchase and sales slip (P & S) which would reflect loss or gain on all completed transactions. Thus, floor traders would receive a P & S slip for every day upon which an open position was liquidated. Outside customers, who were not also floor traders, would receive monthly statements instead. These P & S slips were prepared in duplicate, one white and one pink. They were originally bound together in a book. The white original was removed and given to the trader and the pink copy remained bound in the book.

In due course all of the information from the trades would be posted in other accounting records such as a street book and a position journal. The street book has records divided according to the commodity which would show the quantity involved in the transaction, the price, the other clearing members involved in the transaction and the name of the person for whom the trade was accomplished so that in each instance both seller and buyer were necessarily identified. The position journal reflects the status of the account of each customer of the firm by listing each sale or purchase, identifying the commodity and reflecting the quantity and price in each instance. It was necessary for every participating firm, including B & M, to furnish the clearing corporation with the complete information regarding price and amount involved as to every trade so that all trades by and through all members of the clearing corporation could be cleared at the close of each day.

A differentiation must be made between the clearing corporation itself and its clearing members. The corporation is an instrumentality of the Board of Trade. The clearing corporation in turn has a number of participating clearing members including all brokers, such as the firm of B & M, who handled Board of Trade transactions. Each open contract is held simultaneously by two opposite clearing members, one holding the selling or short position, and the other occupying the buying or long position. Each day, at the close of business, a settlement is made between the clearing corporation and each clearing member who held an open position or who participated in the market that day. The settlement is a cash payment representing the difference between the day's closing market price for the particular commodity and the price at which the individual futures contract in that commodity was bought. The corporation collects this settlement amount from the clearing firm holding the position which lost value in relation to the closing market price and transfers this same amount to the firm occupying the position which increased in value. The clearing corporation thus acts as a conduit for these cash adjustments and ends its daily transactions with a zero cash balance. Clearing members whose accounts for the day show a profit receive payment that day. Clearing members presenting transactions which have resulted in losses are obliged to pay these amounts to the clearing corporation every day.

Other matters of importance regarding the records of B & M require attention. The firm maintained a ledger sheet for each account of every customer, showing the name of the trader, number of the account, the date of every transaction, the source of every entry such as the number of the P & S slip which reflected the transaction, the amount of debit or credit resulting from each transaction, and finally the current balance of the account, either debit to indicate a loss, or credit to reflect a profit. The firm employed several bookkeepers and all of the books were under the supervision of defendant Harris Haywood.

It is no exaggeration to state that the record shows that Haywood suffered from a devastating problem with alcoholism which in later years, after completion of all of the transactions here involved, resulted in a degree of impairment of his mental abilities. This case was tried in late 1971 and early 1972. Haywood was a patient at Hazelton Alcoholic Rehabilitation Institute in Minnesota during spring and summer of 1971. Plaintiff and his attorney made a personal visit to Haywood during this time. The trial judge was aware of Haywood's infirmity and mental condition during the trial.

Commencing in 1959 the B & M firm adopted a system of maintaining two separate ledger sheets reflecting each customer account. One ledger was labeled as a trading sheet. It indicated the status of the trading account as above pointed out. The other ledger sheet maintained separate records of the so-called drawing account which reflected only cash amounts deposited to the account of the customer or cash withdrawn or debited to the account.

Haywood also maintained a memo ledger which was identical to the original trading and drawing ledgers kept by the firm's bookkeeper, Edwin Sprandel. Haywood testified that he needed up-to-date ledgers to record customer ledger balances on the daily position cards. The firm bookkeeper occasionally fell behind in posting entries in the B & M ledgers. Therefore, Haywood maintained a set of parallel ledgers which he kept current. The records kept by the firm bookkeeper were the official ledgers of B & M and other firm documents were based thereon. Both types of these ledger records were received in evidence. We will later have occasion for further consideration of this particular situation.

The accepted procedure of the Board of Trade concerning deposit of margins to secure trades in futures contracts requires consideration. The Board requires deposit of margins by clearing members in connection with operation of the clearing corporation. Margin requirements are based upon an amount for each bushel or unit of the commodity in question. The amount per bushel is fixed by the board of governors and the so-called Margin Committee of the Board. The clearing corporation does not deal with individual traders but only with its own members such as B & M. A margin is not required to cover each and every trade but only the net positions of each clearing member at the end of each business day. As shown, the net long or net short position of each member of the clearing house is calculated at the close of each day and this is the amount to which the margin requirements pertain. In general practice, the required margin is not deposited with the clearing corporation each day but is deposited with area banks. These depositaries furnish evidence of the deposit of money or securities which stand to guarantee the margin requirement of the clearing member. In all cases the margins posted in this manner by the clearing members are a lump sum and they are not subdivided or designated with reference to the identity of any customer of the trading firm.

In compliance with Board rule, clearing members, such as the firm of B & M, required deposit of margins for security from their customers. But, the record shows definitely that members of the Board of Trade who engaged in individual trades for their own accounts were exempt from margin requirements. Thus, B & M did not require deposit of margins from plaintiff who was, at the time of his trading activities, a member of the Board. B & M was required to consider the daily net position of plaintiff in connection with any trades that he made in calculating the amount of its margin requirements in its daily reports to the clearing corporation. The firm could and did depend upon the equity and credit of plaintiff to make certain that trades which he made on his own account were adequately secured.

In this connection, a clear differentiation must be made between two types of records maintained by trading firms such as B & M. The customers' segregated funds account was the firm bank account in which funds deposited by customers were kept. For example, this account reflected total drawing account deposits and withdrawals as well as profits and losses from the daily settlement process with the clearing corporation. The account also served to segregate customer funds from those of the firm which were kept in a separate house account. The bank statements for this segregated funds account reflected total customer funds and did not contain names of individual traders or any itemized information regarding any single trade.

The second type of record, the daily segregation statement, was issued every day by all clearing members. The purpose of this record was to provide information as to the net amount of funds that the clearing member would owe all of its commodity customers on the date in question if all of them were simultaneously to liquidate their positions and demand payment of the net credits in their respective accounts. This statement also indicated the amount of money the firm had available to pay its customer equities as well as the location of those segregated funds. These daily segregation statements did not reflect the commodity position or transactions of any individual customer. However, the statement would reflect the identity of each customer's account which had a net debit at the close of the market day.

The trading firm is required to segregate and have available sufficient assets to liquidate the account of every customer if required. Where the amount of customers' funds held in segregation by a firm does not contain sufficient cash and securities thus to liquidate and pay each and all of its total customers' equities, the firm is said to be in an undersegregated condition. This requirement of segregation of funds has been established by Federal law. (See the Commodity Exchange Act. 7 U.S.C. §§ 1 et seq. (1958), as amended 7 U.S.C. §§ 1 et seq. (Supp. V 1975).) Under the rules and regulations adopted pursuant to this statute, the making of these reports and the establishment and maintenance of the segregated fund in good order was a mandatory requirement. As will later be shown in detail, B & M did not comply with these requirements of the law. In addition, as we will later show, the Daily Segregation Statements which were required to be kept by them were never produced before the trial court.

It is undisputed that plaintiff was a customer of B & M commencing about January 1958 and continuing until the firm closed its doors in May of 1960. During the existence of this relationship, various transactions took place between plaintiff and B & M which were the subject of considerable evidence by both sides before the Committee of Arbitration and the trial court. We will next summarize the facts pertaining to these matters.

Plaintiff's Guarantors

From time to time, several persons deposited funds with B & M to guarantee plaintiff's transactions. On March 5, 1958, a friend of plaintiff named Bernard Shulman wrote to B & M. He requested that the firm open an account in his name which would stand as a guarantee for the trading account of plaintiff up to and including the amounts on deposit in the guarantor account from time to time. A cashier's check for $10,393.17 was enclosed with the letter. This amount was reflected in the records of B & M as a credit to Shulman's drawing account. Thereafter another check for $4000 was deposited in this account. Plaintiff testified that most of this money was the property of plaintiff's nephew, Fred Freigher, who had supplied the funds to Shulman. Only a small portion of the funds actually belonged to Shulman. However, Shulman made no trades in this account at any time and the funds were always retained to the credit of plaintiff.

A.L. Schiffman was another guarantor of plaintiff's trades. Schiffman wrote two letters to B & M, one on March 16, 1959, and one on June 22, 1959. In each of these letters a check for $3000 was enclosed. The first letter stated that the funds were to guarantee trades to be made by plaintiff in a special account that plaintiff would open with B & M. In the second letter, Schiffman stated that the entire $6000 "will guarantee any and all trades for Mr. Bernhard Rosee." Plaintiff testified that he had introduced Mr. Schiffman to B & M as a favor and that from time to time Haywood had requested plaintiff to execute various orders in behalf of Schiffman on the floor of the exchange. Plaintiff's ledger account as kept by B & M shows a debit of $6674.45 three days prior to the date of the earliest letter. Plaintiff's ledger debit about the date of the second letter was $4957.80. Plaintiff testified that his financial position at B & M was not in a debit condition when the first letter was received. He stated that he was going to enter the perfume business, he needed money for the purchase of oils and these deposits were only intended to be a reserve to protect plaintiff against fluctuations of the market in the event that he was away for a few hours. Plaintiff testified that he received this money from Schiffman, "like a loan"; he had borrowed the money and intended to pay it back.

There is a conflict in the evidence concerning an account carried by B & M under the name of Emil Acciari. Plaintiff testified that he introduced Acciari to the firm and that he never initiated or controlled any transaction for Acciari's account and did not pay any money to Acciari as a result of any trading transaction. Plaintiff stated that he had executed orders for trades in the Acciari account which he had received from the defendant Haywood. Haywood denied that he had ever ordered plaintiff to execute such trades and stated that he had never received a trading order from Acciari but that the account had been handled and controlled by plaintiff. Acciari testified that plaintiff had handled his account for him at B & M commencing in 1959 and that plaintiff had similarly handled two previous market accounts at other brokers commencing in 1956. Acciari further testified that he never gave any person specific instructions concerning transactions in his account with particular reference to Haywood and plaintiff. He stated that plaintiff was in full control of the account without specific instructions from him and that he had never met Baggot, Morrison or Haywood until 1960.

The Hirsch Soble Transaction

On October 19, 1959, plaintiff executed a trade on the exchange through B & M. This transaction purported to be made in the name of Hirsch Soble, an attorney. On October 20, 1959, Soble wrote to B & M. He stated that he had received a confirmation of this transaction regarding a short sale of November soybeans; he had not placed this order and would not be responsible. On October 22, 1959, Haywood responded to this letter with another letter in which he stated that the order had been placed by plaintiff for Soble's account with directions that any debit should be entered against plaintiff but that any credit was to be applied to the Soble account. In the letter Haywood also stated that this transaction would be transferred to plaintiff's account and that Soble would be cleared of any possible liability. Plaintiff testified that apparently he did not execute the Soble trade because he was not at the market that day but that otherwise he would have executed it. The arbitrators found that Rosee was responsible for the Soble trade.

The James Near Transaction

In January 1958, plaintiff called defendant Baggot from Washington, D.C., and requested that B & M sell short 50,000 bushels of March wheat. He directed that this transaction was to be reflected in the account of "James Near." Prior to that date B & M had no such account. Baggot testified that plaintiff expressly guaranteed the account in this conversation and told Baggot that he would supply Near's address. The Near transaction turned out to be unprofitable. Baggot testified that plaintiff personally instructed him to put the transaction in plaintiff's own account. He stated that plaintiff told him that there was a relationship of some kind between James Near and a congressman.

Plaintiff denied this version of the transaction and denied the existence of any oral guarantee of the account by him. Plaintiff testified that he told Baggot to send a confirmation to James Near, in care of a cousin of Near's who was the son of the congressman. He testified that the account was for the congressman's son and Baggot was told of this fact. Plaintiff testified that he did not give Baggot Near's address but only the address of the congressman's son. Plaintiff testified that a confirmation of the transaction was sent to the congressman's son and that he saw such confirmation in the latter's office. These facts were expressly denied by Baggot.

At the arbitration, Baggot testified that the account remained short 50,000 bushels of March wheat until that quantity of wheat was purchased by Baggot on plaintiff's instruction. Since the price of this commodity had increased in the interim, the entire transaction ended in a loss of $4411.25. The evidence in behalf of defendants is that plaintiff was asked to pay the loss. Plaintiff testified that he was never asked to pay the loss. In handling this transaction, the records of B & M show that the loss in the Near account was debited against plaintiff's guarantor Shulman.

The firm sent a letter to Shulman on January 1, 1959, reflecting this loss. Shulman responded by letter dated January 6, 1959, in which he stated that he would not accept the loss. Thereafter defendant Haywood wrote to Shulman and conceded that Shulman's account should not have been debited. Instead, plaintiff's account with B & M (carried under account No. 11) was debited with the Near loss.

The trial court expressed the opinion that plaintiff had "welched" in this matter so that the loss was properly debited against plaintiff's account. However, in the calculation of damages in favor of plaintiff, the court allowed recovery of $4411.25 which had been debited against plaintiff because of this transaction. As we will later show, the Arbitration Committee concluded that B & M did not exercise due diligence in handling the account and the fact that the account remained on their books in Near's name for approximately 10 months indicated the opinion of ...


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