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Marine National Bank v.

National City Bank


Facts:
-

The Lunt Brothers (drawer) who were merchants in New York gave a stranger
a $25 check in exchange for the same amount in cash, drawn upon Marine
National Bank (drawee), and payable to the order of Henry Smith (payee)
The next day, a person called upon Derippe & Co (NY gold brokers) stating
that he wished to buy some gold for the Lunt Brothers, and asked $3,334 gold
in currency
A memo, giving the amount as $4,079.96 was delivered to him
he person then altered the $25 check by erasing the date, payee, and
amount
In place of the original, he inserted Dec. 2, 1969, payee as Derippe & Co, and
the amount as $4,079.96
He then sent the check to Marine National Bank for certification, which the
latter duly certified upon presentation
Derippe & Co, without notice of and being ignorant of the alteration and
relying upon the certification, gave to the person the sum of $3,334 American
gold, receiving in payment the certified check
Derippe indorsed the check and deposited it in National City Bank (collecting
Bank)
Marine Bank paid the check to National City Bank, but requested repayment
of the amount immediately when it discovered the alterations
Nationall City Bank refused to repay the same
Before the discovery of the alteration, both banks believed the check to be
genuine
Judgment was rendered for Marine Bank on the ground that it did not
guarantee the genuineness of the filling out of the check by certifying, and so
it was not estopped from showing the alteration, and was entitled to the
repayment.

Issue(s):
w/n Marine National Bank is entitled to the repayment
SC Ratio:
That an acceptor of a bill of exchange by acceptance only admits the genuineness
of the signature of the drawer, and does not admit the genuineness of the
indorsements...or any other part of the bill, is elementary and sustained by an
unbroken current of authority. The reason is that when the bill is presented for
acceptance the acceptor looks to the handwriting of the drawer with which he is
presumed to be acquainted...But the acceptor cannot be presumed to have any
such knowledge of the other facts upon which the rights of the holder may depend.
The doctrine is applied to cases of bills altered in the body, by the raising of the
amount for which they were drawn, and also to those in which the name of the
payee has been feloniously changed.
The drawee is presumed to be acquainted with the drawers signature, but to
require the drawee to know the handwriting of the residue of the bill is
unreasonable. It would, in most cases, be requiring an impossibility. Such a rule
would be not only arbitrary and rigorous, but unjust.

Disposition Judgment affirmed.