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Opinion of the Court.

not aid the matter. The so-called contract was, therefore, void at its inception. Instead of being impaired in any way forbidden by law, it never had any existence; and it seems to us well that we feel at liberty to so declare, because we have a general law taxing water companies, and if one company be exempt, that of any other city has an equal right to ask the privilege. A statute exempting one is certainly open to the objection of impolicy, if, indeed, it be not such unequal and partial legislation as is forbidden by law.”

The grounds upon which the state court overruled the contention of the Water Company in the former case were not overlooked. And it was, in effect, there adjudged, as the above extract from the opinion of this court shows, that the exemption given by the act of 1882 was, partly at least, in consideration of the agreement of the company to furnish water to the public fire cisterns, plugs and hydrants “free of charge," and not as provided in the company's charter, upon such terms as might be agreed upon between it and the city; that this obligation of the company continued while its exemption from taxation continued; and, consequently, that such exemption, being a vested right under the act of 1882, to be withdrawn only by statute having a prospective operation, could not be withdrawn except as to taxes accruing after the statute of 1886 took effect.

It is to be observed that the Court of Appeals in its opinion in the present case states that the authority for reporting to the county court clerk the tax list for 1886 of property omitted to be listed with the auditor, was to be found in the Hewitt bill which was passed, as we have seen, after the enactment of the act of 1882.

The argument in behalf of the Commonwealth in the present case, in effect, calls for a reconsideration of what was said in the former case. We do not regard such reconsideration as necessary; and upon the authority of the decision in the former case, we adjudge that the exemption from taxation acquired by the Water Company under the act of 1882 was not withdrawn except from the day on which the statute of 1886 took effect. It results that the company cannot be held


for taxes which were assessed and became due prior to September 14, 1886, when the Hewitt act took effect. The petition of the Commonwealth of Kentucky should have been dismissed. The judgment is reversed, and the cause is remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.

MR. JUSTICE GRAY dissented.



No. 168. Argued January 6, 7, 1898. – Decided April 18, 1898.

In an action against the maker of a hond, given to indempify or insure a

bank against loss arising from acts of fraud or dishonesty on the part of its cashier, if the bond was fairly and reasonably susceptible of two constructions, one favorable to the bank and the other to the insurer, the former, if consistent with the objects for which the bond was given,

must be adopted. Under the condition of the bond in this case, requiring notice of acts of

fraud or dishonesty, the defendant was entitled to notice in writing of any act of the cashier which came to the knowledge of the plaintiff of a fraudulent or a dishonest character as soon as practicable after the plaintiff acquired knowledge; and it is not sufficient to defeat the plaintiff's right of action upon the policy to show that the plaintiff may have had suspicions of dishonest conduct of the cashier; but it was plaintiff's duty, when it came to his knowledge, when he was satisfied that the cashier had committed acts of dishonesty or fraud likely to involve loss to the defendant under the bond, as soon as was practicable thereafter to give written notice to the defendant: though he may have had suspicions of irregularities or fraud, he was not bound to act until he had acquired knowledge of some specific fraudulent or dishonest act that

might involve the defendant in liability for the misconduct. When the bank suspended business, and the investigation by the examiner

commenced, O'Brien ceased to perform the ordinary duties of a cashier ; but within the meaning of the bond, he did not retire from, but remained in, the service of the employer during at least the investigation of the bank's affairs and the custody of its assets by the national bank examiner, which lasted until the appointment of a receiver and his qualification. Held, that the six months from“ the death or dismissal or retirement of the employé from the service of the employer,” within which

Opinion of the Court.

his fraud or dishonesty must have been discovered in order to hold the

company liable, did not commence to run prior to the date last named. The making of a statement as to the honesty and fidelity of an employé

of a bank for the benefit of the employé, and to enable the latter to obtain a bond insuring his fidelity, was no part of the ordinary routine business of a bank president, and there was nothing to show that by any usage of this particular bank such function was committed to its

president. The presumption that an agent informs his principal of that which his duty

and the interests of his principal require him to communicate does not arise where the agent acts or makes declarations not in execution of any duty that he owes to the principal, nor within any authority possessed by him, but to subserve simply his own personal ends or to commit some fraud against the principal; and in such cases the principal is not bound by the acts or declarations of the agent unless it be proved that he had at the time actual notice of them, or having received notice of them, failed

to disavow what was assumed to be said and done in his behalf. When an agent has, in the course of his employment, been guilty of an

actual fraud contrived and carried out for his own benefit, by which he intended to defraud and did defraud his own principal or client, as well as perhaps the other party, and the very perpetration of such fraud involved the necessity of his concealing the facts from his own client, then under such circumstances the principal is not charged with constructive notice of facts known by the attorney and thus fraudulently concealed.

The case is stated in the opinion.

Mr. Henry C. Willcox and Mr. Walter D. Davidge for plaintiff in error.

Mr. Walter D. Davidge, Jr., was on their brief.

Mr. Edward Winslow Paige for defendant in error.

MR. JUSTICE HARlan delivered the opinion of the court.

The defendant in error as receiver of the California National Bank of San Diego, California, brought this action against the plaintiff in error, a corporation of New York, upon a bond of the latter for $15,000 guaranteeing or insur: ing the bank, subject to certain conditions, against any act of fraud or dishonesty committed by George N. O'Brien in his position as cashier of that institution.

This bond was based upon an application by O'Brien to the Surety Company accompanied by written declarations and

Opinion of the Court.

answers to questions relating to his age, history, babits, financial condition, etc. He presented with the application the following certificate, signed by J. W. Collins as president of the bank : “I have read the foregoing declarations and answers made by George N. O'Brien, and believe them to be true. He has been in the employ of this bank during three years; and to the best of my knowledge has always performed his duties in a faithful and satisfactory manner. His accounts were last examined on the 28th day of March, 1891, and found correct in every respect. He is not to my knowledge, at present, in arrears or in default.' I know nothing of his habits or antecedents affecting his title to general confidence, or why the bond he applies for should not be granted to him."

The bond was executed July 1, 1891. After reciting that the employé, O'Brien, had been appointed in the service of the employer, the bank, had been assigned to the office or position of cashier, and had applied to the American Surety Company of New York for a bond, it provided :

“Now, therefore, in consideration of the sum of seventy-five dollars, lawful money of the United States of America, in hand paid to the company, as a premium for the term of twelve months ending on the first day of July, one thousand eight hundred and ninety-two, at 12 o'clock noon, it is hereby declared and agreed that, subject to the provision herein contained, the company shall, within three months next after notice, accompanied by satisfactory proof, of a loss, as hereinafter mentioned, has been given to the company, make good and reimburse to the employer all and any pecuniary loss sustained by the employer, of moneys, securities or other personal property in the possession of the employé, or for the possession of which he is responsible, by any act of fraud, or dishonesty, on the part of the employé, in connection with the duties of the office or position herein before referred to, or the duties to which in the employer's service he may be subsequently appointed, and occurring during the continuance of this bond, and discovered during said continuance, or within six months thereafter, and within six months from the death or dismissal, or retirement of the employé, from the service of

Opinion of the Court.

the employer. It being understood that a written statement of such loss, certified by the duly authorized officer or representative of the employer, and based upon the accounts of the employer, shall be prima facie evidence thereof. Provided always, that the company shall not be liable, by virtue of this bond, for any mere error of judgment or injudicious exercise of discretion on the part of the employé, in and about all or any matters, wherein he shall have been vested with discretion, either by instruction, or rules and regulations of the employer. And it is expressly understood and agreed that the company shall in no way be held liable hereunder to make good any loss which may accrue to the employer by reason of any act or thing done, or left undone, by the employé, in obedience to, or in pursuance of, any direction, instruction or authorization conveyed to and received by him from the employer or its duly authorized officer in that behalf; and it is expressly understood and agreed that the company shall in no way be held liable hereunder to make good any loss, by robbery or otherwise, that the employer may sustain, except by the direct act or connivance of the employé.

“The following provisions are to be observed and binding as a part of this bond:

“That the company shall be notified in writing, at its office in the city of New York, of any act on the part of the employé, which may involve a loss for which the company is responsible hereunder, as soon as practicable after the occurrence of such act shall have come to the knowledge of the employer. That any claim made in respect of this bond shall be in writing, addressed to the company, as aforesaid, as soon as practicable after the discovery of any loss for which the company is responsible hereunder, and within six months after the expiration or cancellation of this bond as aforesaid. And upon the making of such claim, this bond shall wholly cease and determine as regards any liability for any act or omission of the employé committed subsequent to the making of such claim, and shall be surrendered to the company on payment of such claim."

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