140 US 220 Bank of Uniontown v. Mackey

140 U.S. 220

11 S.Ct. 844

35 L.Ed. 485


May 11, 1891.

[Statement of Case from pages 220-224 intentionally omitted]

S. B. Vance, for plaintiff in error.

G. V. Menzies, for defendant in error.

Mr. Justice GRAY, after stating the facts as above, delivered the opinion of the court.

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It being alleged by the plaintiff, and admitted by the defendant, that Naas, one of the makers of the notes in suit, signed them as surety for the Mount Vernon Mill & Elevator Company, the other maker, and that the defendant, Mackey, indorsed the notes for the accommodation of that company, there can be no doubt that an agreement between the holder of the notes and the principal maker to extend the time of payment for a definite time, without the consent of the surety, would discharge him, and that such discharge of the surety, without the consent of the indorser, would discharge the indorser also. The agreement in writing between the holder and the indorser, as to each note, by which the indorser 'consents that the payment thereof may be extended until he gives written notice to the contrary,' evidently contemplated and authorized only an extension of time which should neither discharge nor increase the liability of any party to the note. It looked to an extension consented to by both the makers of the note, and leaving them both liable to pay it at the end of the extended time, and not to an extension of time by agreement between the holder and the principal maker only, which would discharge the second maker, being only a surety, and prevent the indorser, upon paying the amount of the note, from having recourse to him as well as to the principal. As the first and third counts alleged an extension of the time of payment of the note by the holder by agreement with the principal maker only, without any knowledge or consent of the surety, the demurrers to those counts were rightly sustained. But upon the second and fourth counts the case was presented in a different aspect. Each of these counts, without alleging either the receipt by the plaintiff of any nte rest or other consideration from the defendant, or any agreement to renew or extend the note for a definite time, simply alleged generally that the plaintiff did not cause the note to be protested for nonpayment, and consented that it might be renewed, and forbore to sue thereon until after the death of the surety. This was not an allegation of a definite agreement to forbear to sue, but only of an actual forbearance, which would not discharge a surety or an indorser. The defendant evidently so understood the allegations of these counts, for, instead of demurring to them, (as he had to the other counts,) he answered, setting up a definite agreement between the plaintiff and the principal maker to extend the time of payment of the note for four months from its maturity, in consideration of the payment of interest on the note during such extension of time. But the special findings of fact wholly fail to support this defense. From those findings it appears that, the plaintiff having signified to the principal maker its willingness 'to extend the credit upon renewal notes made by the same parties who executed the original notes,' and the surety being too sick to join in the execution of new notes, the plaintiff sent to the principal maker, at its request, a statement of the interest for four months, as well as blank renewal notes to be signed by both makers when the surety should be able to do so; and that such interest was paid by the principal and received by the plaintiff after the surety's death, the plaintiff at that time being ignorant of his death, and expecting that the principal would procure and deliver renewal notes as before proposed, and nothing being then said as to an agreement for an extension of time, or as to the effect of the payment of interest. No present agreement for an extension of time can be inferred from the mere payment of interest under such circumstances. The necessary conclusion from the facts found is that the plaintiff never agreed to extend payment of the old notes, except upon receiving new ones signed by both makers, which were never given; and that the payment of interest has no effect upon the case, except, as admitted in the complaint, by way of deduction from the amount that the plaintiff is entitled to recover. Judgment reversed, and case remanded, with directions to enter judgment for the plaintiff on the second and fourth counts.


'This memorandum witnesseth that in the matter of a certain promissory note for five thousand dollars, dated July 20, 1885, and due November 20-23, 1885, wherein the Mount Vernon Mill and Elevator Company and George Naas are makers and D. J. Mackey is indorser, the undersigned hereby waives presentment for payment, protest, notice of protest, and consents that the payment thereof may be extended until he gives written notice to the contrary. Dated at Evansville, Indiana, this 20th day of November, 1885.



'Promissory notes payable to any person or persons, or to a corporation, and payable and negotiable at any bank incorporated under any law of this commonwealth, or organized in this commonwealth under any law of the United States, which shall be indorsed to and discounted by the bank at which the same is payable, or by any other of the banks in this commonwealth, as above specified, shall be, and they are hereby, placed on the same footing as foreign bills of exchange.' Gen. St. c. 22, § 21.