American Ice Company v. Eastern Trust Banking Company
The appellee herein was the complainant in the court of original jurisdiction and commenced its suit in the supreme court of the District of Columbia to foreclose a mortgage ex-
ecuted by the American Ice Company, one of the appellants, to the appellee as trustee, etc. Judgment of foreclosure was entered, from which an appeal was taken to the court of appeals of the District, where it was modified by reducing the amount of the indebtedness found due by the trial court and secured by the mortgage, and as so modified the judgment was affirmed. 17 App. D. C. 428; also reported on former hearing in the court of appeals, 14 App. D. C. 304. Another phase of the controversy appears in 6 App. D. C. 375, and 169 U.S. 295, 42 L. ed. 752, 18 Sup. Ct. Rep. 347.
The facts are somewhat numerous, but for the purpose of presenting the question discussed in the opinion herein the following only are necessary to be noticed:
The American Ice Company was a Maine corporation, and in that state it made a mortgage to the appellee, which was also a Maine corporation, to secure the payment of bonds executed by the ice company to the amount of $40,000, payable in instalments of $5,000 each. The bonds were payable to the mortgagee or bearer, and all were duly sold and delivered to various persons for full value before maturity. The property mortgaged embraced real estate in Maine, and also certain real estate which the mortgagor claimed to own in the city of Washington, D. C., opposite square 270, and being within the limits of the bed of the Potomac river. On this property were erected a wharf and ice houses for storing and distributing the ice gathered in Maine and shipped to Washington. The mortgage contained the following provisions as to insurance:
'Article 7. The American Ice Company hereby expressly covenants and agrees to pay any and all taxes, assessments, and governmental charges assessed or laid upon the property herein conveyed or intended so to be, and also to keep said premises and property at all times insured in such insurance companies as may be approved by the trustee, in such amounts as shall reasonably protect all the insurable property, payable in case of loss to the trustee as its interest may appear. In case of loss the insurance money may be applied by the trustee toward the renewal of or additions to the property destroyed or injured, or, at the option of the trustee, the money may either be retained and invested in such securities as it approves, as a sinking fund for the redemption of the bonds when due, or be applied to the payment of the principal of such of the aforesaid bonds as may be at the time due and unpaid and of the interest which may at that time have accrued upon the principal and be unpaid, without discrimination or preference; and ratably to the aggregate amount of said unpaid principal and accrued and unpaid interest, rendering the surplus, if any, to the American Ice Company, or to whomsoever may be lawfully and equitably entitled to receive the same.'
The mortgagor company thereafter fell into financial difficulties, defaulted in the payment of its bonds and other indebtedness, and on October 13, 1893, it made an assignment to William G. Johnson, the other appellant, as assignee, for the benefit of its creditors. The assignee took possession of the real property mortgaged and situate in Washington, and in November, 1896, took out fire insurance policies to the extent of $3,000 on the buildings and improvements on the Washington property, the premiums being paid from the assigned estate. On February 11, 1896, the buildings and improvements were destroyed by fire and the insurance moneys were paid to the assignee, who set up in his answer to the bill of foreclosure that he had taken out the insurance upon his separate interest as owner of the equity of redemption for the benefit of all the creditors of the ice company, secured and unsecured; while the trustee claims the insurance moneys for the benefit of the bondholders.
The trial court decreed the foreclosure of the mortgage and sale of the mortgaged premises, and in the event that the proceeds arising therefrom should be insufficient to pay the bonded indebtedness, it further decreed that the assignee should pay to the trustee the insurance moneys, or so much as might be necessary to pay the deficit, and that the trustee should apply the same as directed.
Mr. William G. Johnson for appellants.
Mr. B. F. Leighton for appellee.
Mr. Justice Peckham, after making the above statement of facts, delivered the opinion of the court: