U.S. Supreme Court Stewart v. Anderson, 10 U.S. 6 Cranch 203 203 (1810)
Stewart v. Anderson
10 U.S. (6 Cranch) 203
ERROR TO THE CIRCUIT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
In an action in Virginia by the assignee of a negotiable promissory note against the maker, the latter may set off a negotiable note of the assignor which be held at the time of receiving notice of the assignment of his own note, although the note thus set off was not due at the time of the notice, but became due before the note upon which the suit was brought.
Stewart, the endorsee of a promissory note, brought his action of debt under the statute of Virginia against Anderson, the maker. The note was made payable to W. Hodgson, and by him assigned to Stewart. It
was dated 25 April, 1807, and payable 180 days after date for $330.56.
The defendant pleaded
1. Nil debet and.
2. That at the time the note became due, and before the defendant had notice of the assignment thereof to the plaintiff by W. Hodgson, the latter became, and now is, indebted to the defendant in the sum of $566.67, by note dated 29 June, 1807, and payable 60 days after its date. That the defendant has been and still is ready and doth offer to set off against the money due from him by the note mentioned in the declaration so much of the $566.67 as will be and is sufficient to discharge all that is due and owing from him for and on account of the note in the declaration mentioned.
Upon the trial in the court below, the jury found a special verdict which states that Hodgson transferred to the plaintiff the note in the declaration mentioned, and afterwards, on 14 August, 1807, for the first time informed the defendant that the note was transferred, but did not say to whom. At the time of that information, the defendant held a note of W. Hodgson dated 29 June, 1807, for $566.67, which was given for a full and valuable consideration and payable 60 days after date. When the defendant was informed of the transfer of the note he made no reply. The jury finally conclude by saying that it
"finds for the defendant provided the court is of opinion that the verbal notice given by Hodgson to the defendant, on 14 August of the transfer of the note in the declaration mentioned was not sufficient to bar the defendant's right of offsetting his aforesaid note of $566.67, against the plaintiff's note in the declaration mentioned. But should the court be of opinion that the said notice was sufficient to entitle the plaintiff to the money in the declaration mentioned, as against the defendant, then it finds for the plaintiff,"
Upon this special verdict, the judgment of the court below was for the defendant, and the plaintiff brought his writ of error.
MR. CHIEF JUSTICE MARSHALL.
If Hodgson's note had not been payable till after Anderson's, it would have been a different case, but being payable before Anderson's, and holden by Anderson before notice, it is such an offset as he might avail himself of at the trial.