Bell v. Cirode

Citation: Samuel Bell vs. William Cirode, Commercial Court of Orleans Parish, Case 6207, Louisiana Division, City Archives, New Orleans Public Library.

See Cirode Family and Parish v. Cirode.

Like Henry Parish, Samuel Bell sued Cirode for giving misleading information about the solvency of Cirode and White. The case begin in May 1843 and concluded in June 1844 with a judgment against Cirode, after a jury trial.

Bell’s petition says that Cirode first informed New Orleans merchants that “he had established his son Daniel W. Cirode and his son-in-law Robert K. White in business in the city of Mobile,” giving each of them $3,000. Cirode said he would assist their firm in buying goods for a year “so as fully to establish their credit.” Cirode then represented to Bell and other merchants around April 1842 that Cirode and White were doing a good business: “thriving,” “remarkably well,” and “doing a cash business altogether.” In late March 1842, according to Bell, Cirode was in Mobile together with Bell and in his son’s warehouse reiterated his representations of their solvency: he “induced petitioner to give said Cirode & White credit.” Daniel W. Cirode then returned to New Orleans with Bell in the same boat and “there purchased goods from petitioner, bagging and rope” worth $2,351, using a bill of exchange drawn on Cirode and White (bill included in case file). The younger Cirode left New Orleans a few days later and “immediately sold at auction at a sacrifice a great part of said bagging and rope,” shortly after which, the elder Cirode …

caused to be attached … to wit, on the 20th of April 1842 in the store of said Cirode & White their entire stock of goods including the very bagging & rope or a portion thereof which had been sold by petitioner a few days previously, for a pretended claim of about eleven thousand dollars on an affidavit that they the said Cirode and White were about to remove their said stock of goods from Mobile, that after having by his said proceedings secured the appropriation of said stock of goods to himself alone the said William Cirode returned to New Orleans where he publicly stated that the said Cirode & White had failed, that said ‘Daniel W. Cirode was going to do a commission business and that he had all confidence’ and that he had seen several houses who were going to ship him goods.

Bell alleged that Cirode was aware that his sons’ firm was “in desperate circumstances” and about to collapse, especially at the time of the sale of the bagging of rope, but willfully deceived Bell. Meanwhile, because of the insolvency of the firm, the bill of exchange held by Bell had become valueless at Union Bank, where he had applied for the funds. In January 1843, Bell received a partial payment of the debt, but was still owed $1952 with interest. Bell claimed that Cirode was legally responsible for that balance given his attachment of the firm’s goods.

Cirode argued in defense that he had never made any false representations, and judging from witness cross-examination, he made much of the fact that Bell had traveled to Mobile himself before the sale.

The printed judgment summary, sent to the sheriff of the commercial court, ordered him to satisfy the money owed to Bell out of his estate, “but if sufficient personal estate of said defendant exclusive of Slaves cannot be found in your district, that then you cause the said sum to be made of the Real Estate and Slaves of said defendant in your district, whereof he was owner on the 29 day of June last past, in whose hands soever the same may have come.”

In November 1844, the sheriff reported back to the court:

I seized and took in my possession the slave Margaret, which after complying with all the formality required by law was advertised and sold according to law at the St. Louis Exchange on the 20th August 1844 to the Plaintiff Saml Bell, for the sum of Three Hundred & Eighty Five Dollars, out of which I deducted the costs $169.22. I paid the Balance $215.78 to the Plaintiff’s Attorney. No other property found to satisfy this [Judgment? Amount?].

Pencil notes show that the sheriff first demanded the money of Cirode’s attorny and was told “no money &c,” and then “seized Slave Margaret negro girl aged about 30 Years” on July 15 and sold her on August 20.

The file contains a duplicate of a “Bankrupt’s Discharge” for Daniel W. Cirode issued by the District Court of the United States for the Southern District of Alabama under the August 19, 1841, bankruptcy law. It shows that he was declared bankrupt on December 27, 1842.