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U.S. Supreme Court


198 U.S. 554

HENRY VAN REED, Plff. in Err.,
No. 229.

Submitted April 25, 1905.
Decided May 29, 1905.

The plaintiff, who was the owner of a claim against the defendant, the People's National Bank of Lebanon, Pennsylvania, commenced an action in the state of New York by levying an attachment upon the funds of the defendant in that state, upon the ground that it was a foreign corporation. The defendant, appearing specially for that purpose, moved to have the attachment vacated upon the ground that it was prohibited by the Revised Statutes of the United States. At special term the motion was denied; the appellate term reversed the judgment of the special term, and vacated the attachment. The court of appeals answered two questions certified to it by the appellate division, and affirmed the judgment of that court. The two questions propounded are as follows:

The court of appeals, in affirming the judgment of the court below, answered the first question in the affirmative and the second question in the negative. The case was then brought to this court upon writ of error.

Mr. James W. M. Newlin for plaintiff in error.

[198 U.S. 554, 556]   Messrs. Percy S. Dudley and George B. Woomer for defendant in error.

[198 U.S. 554, 557]  

Mr. Justice Day delivered the opinion of the court:

We deem the answer to the first question already determined by the decision of this court in Pacific Nat. Bank v. Mixter, 124 U.S. 721 , 31 L. ed. 567, 8 Sup. Ct. Rep. 718. The right of Congress to determine to what extent a state court shall be permitted to entertain actions against national banks, and how far these institutions shall be subject to state control, is undeniable. National banks are quasi-public institutions, and for the purpose for which they are instituted are national in their character, and, within constitutional limits, are subject to the control of Congress, and are not to be interfered with by state legislative or judicial action, except so far as the lawmaking power of the government may permit. Section 5242 of the Revised Statutes of the United States (U. S. Comp. Stat. 1901, p. 3517) is as follows:

The language of the latter clause of this section would seem to be too plain to admit of discussion as to its meaning. It in terms forbids the issuing of an attachment, injunction, or execution against a national bank or its property before final judgment in any suit, action, or proceeding in any state, county, or municipal court. This way the view taken by this court in Pacific Nat. Bank v. Mixter, 124 U.S. 721 , 31 L. ed. 567, 8 Sup. Ct. Rep. 718. The origin of 5242, and its growth from previous enactments, were pointed out by Mr. Chief Justice Waite, who delivered the opinion of the court in that case:

The answer to the second question involves a consideration of the act relating to national banks of July 12, 1882, 4 (22 Stat. at L. 162, chap. 290, U. S. Comp. Stat. 1901, p. 3458), which is as follows:

There is nothing in this section enlarging the right of attachment against national banks. Before the passage of this section circuit courts of the United States had jurisdiction of suits against national banks because they were corporations of Federal origin. It was the purpose of this legislation to deprive such banks of the right to invoke the jurisdiction of the Federal courts simply upon the ground that they were created by and exercised their powers under the acts of Congress. Petrie v. Commercial Nat. Bank, 142 U.S. 644 , 35 L. ed. 1144, 12 Sup. Ct. Rep. 325; Continental Nat. Bank v. Buford, 191 U.S. 119 -123, 48 L. ed. 119, 120, 24 Sup. Ct. Rep. 54. It regulated the jurisdiction of the courts to entertain such actions against corporations of this character, and had nothing to do with the kind and character of remedies which could be had against them. Certainly there is nothing in the act repealing the prior provisions of 5242, above quoted.

It is further insisted that, whether or not the lien is absolute upon the property of the bank, jurisdiction is obtained of it by the issuing of the attachment; but we cannot take this view. There was no personal service in the court of original jurisdiction, and the attachment being without the power of the court by reason of the terms of the Federal statute, no jurisdiction was acquired in the case, either over the person or property of the defendant. We see no error in the judgment of the Court of Appeals of New York, and the same is affirmed.

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