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determined; and any such suit or proceedings shall, upon the application of the bankrupt, be stayed to await the determination of the court in bankruptcy on the question of the discharge; provided there is no unreasonable delay on the part of the bankrupt in endeavoring to obtain his discharge ; and provided also that, if the amount due the creditor is in dispute, the suit, by leave of the court in bankruptoy, may proceed to judgment for the purpose of ascertaining the amount due, which amount may be proved in bankruptcy, but execution shall be stayed."
The terms of this enactment are as broad and as peremptory as possible. “No creditor whose debt is provable shall be allowed to prosecute to final judgment” any suit thereon against the bankrupt; and such suit “shall, upon the application of the bankrupt, be stayed.” This provision, like all laws of the United States made in pursuance of the Constitution, binds the courts of each State, as well as those of the nation. Upon the application of the bankrupt to the court, State or national, in which the suit is pending, it is the duty of that court to stay the proceedings “to await the determination of the court in bankruptcy on the question of the discharge," unless there is unreasonable delay on the part of the bankrupt in endeavoring to obtain his discharge, or unless, the amount of the debt being in dispute, the United States court sitting in bankruptcy gives leave to proceed to judgment for the purpose of ascertaining that amount. If neither the bankrupt nor his assignee in bankruptcy applies for a stay of proceedings, the court may of course proceed to judgment. Doe v. Childress, 21 Wall. 642; Eyster v. Gaff, 91 U. S. 521; Norton v. Switzer, 93 id. 355.
The stay does not operate as a bar to the action, but only as a suspension of proceedings until the question of the bankrupt’s discharge shall have been determined in the United States court sitting in bankruptcy. After the determination of that question in that court, the court in which the suit is pending may proceed to such judgment as the circumstances of the case may require. If the discharge is refused, the plaintiff, upon establishing his claim, may obtain a, general judgment. If the discharge is granted, the court in which the suit is pending may then determine whether the plaintiff is entitled to a special
judgment for the purpose of enforcing an attachment made more than four months before the commencement of the proceedings in bankruptcy, or for the purpose of charging sureties upon a bond given to dissolve such an attachment. But, so long as the question of the discharge in bankruptcy is undetermined, the suit çannot, against the objection of the bankrupt or of his assignee in bankruptcy, proceed for any purpose, except in one of two events, an 'unreasonable delay of the bankrupt in endeavoring to obtain his discharge, or an order of the court in bankruptcy granting leave to proceed for the single purpose of ascertaining the amount due.
The result required by the very words of the statute is confirmed by a consideration of the reasons upon which it rests. Its purpose is not merely to protect the bankrupt, in case he obtains a certificate of discharge, from having the original cause of action against him merged in a judgment, the right of action upon which might not be barred by the discharge ; but to prevent him, so long as the question of his discharge is undetermined, from being harassed by suit upon any debt provable in bankruptcy, whether it would or would not be barred by a certificate of discharge, and whether the attachment or other security obtained in the suit would or would not be affected by the proceedings in bankruptcy; and also to afford to the assignee in bankruptcy, to whom all the property of the bank. rupt has passed, opportunity to assume the defence of the suit, and to contest the existence and amount of the plaintiff's claim, and the validity of his attachment.
This view, which is supported alike by the words and by the reason of the statute, is in accordance with the preponderance of decisions in the highest courts of the several States, and in the District Courts of the United States, as shown by the cases cited in argument.
The plaintiffs’ debt being provable in bankruptcy, no unreasonable delay on the part of the bankrupt in endeavoring to obtain his discharge being shown, and the court in bankruptcy
1 Metcalf's Case, 2 Benedict, 78; Rosenberg's Case, 3 id. 14; Penny v. Tuylor, 10 Bankr. Reg. 200; Whitney's Case, 18 id. 563; Ray v. Wight, 119 Mass. 426; National Bunk of Clinton v. Taylor, 120 id. 124; Toune v. Rice, 1:22 id. 67; Page v. Cole, 123 id. 93 ; Seavey v. Beckler, 128 id. 471; McKay v. Funk, 37 Iowa, 661; Bratton v. Anderson, 5 S. C. 501; Cohen v. Duncan, 64 Ga. 341.
having granted no leave to proceed to judgment for the purpose of ascertaining the amount due, the decision of the State court, denying the application, made by the bankrupt before judgment, for a stay of proceedings to await the determination of the question of his discharge, and rendering a general judgment against him, was erroneous, and he had the right to sue out and prosecute a writ of error to reverse it. The assignee in bankruptcy has also been permitted to be heard in support of the writ of error, because of his authority and duty to defend the estate of the bankrupt against claims and attachments which he believes to be invalid.
The result is that the judgment of the Supreme Court of Illinois must be reversed, and the case remanded to that court for further proceedings in conformity with this opinion.
The judgment of the State court being reversed for the reason that it denied the stay of proceedings to which the original defendant was entitled under the provision of the Bankrupt Act until the question of his discharge in bankruptcy should have been determined, there is no occasion to consider the question (which may perhaps depend upon the statutes or the practice of the State) whether it will be within the authority of the court in which the suit is pending, now that the defendant has obtained his discharge in bankruptcy, to render a special judgment in favor of the plaintiffs for the purpose
of charging the sureties on the bond given to dissolve the attachment; or any other question which may hereafter arise upon the production by the defendant of his certificate of disch rge, or upon the suggestion of the assignee in bankruptcy.
DUFF v. STERLING PUMP COMPANY.
1. Reissued letters-patent No. 6673, granted to Mrs. P. Duff, E. A. Kitzmiller,
and R. P. Duff, Oct. 5, 1875, for an “improvement in waslı-boards," on the surrender of original letters-patent No. 111,585, granted to Westly Todd, as inventor, Feb. 7, 1871, are not infringed by a wash-board constructed in accordance with the description contained in letters-patent No. 171,568,
granted to Aaron J. Hull, Dec. 28, 1875. 2. In view of prior inventions, the claims of the letters-patent granted to Todd
must be limited to the form which he shows and describes, namely, projections bounded by crossing horizontal and vertical grooves. They do not
cover diamond-shaped projections bounded by crossing diagonal grooves. 3. In the field of waslı-boards made of sheet metal, with the surface broken into
protuberances formed of the body of the metal so as to make a rasping surface, and to strengthen the metal by its shape, and to provide channels for the water to run off, Todd was not a pioneer. He merely devised a new form to accomplish those results; and his letters-patent do not cover a form which is a substantial departure from it.
APPEAL from the Circuit Court of the United States for the Northern District of Illinois.
The case is stated in the opinion of the court.
MR. JUSTICE BLATCHFORD delivered the opinion of the court.
This is a suit in equity brought for the alleged infringement of reissued letters-patent No. 6673, granted to Mrs. P. Duff, E. A. Kitzmiller, and R. P. Duff, Oct. 5, 1875, for an “improvement in wash-boards," on the surrender of original letterspatent No. 111,585, granted to Westly Todd, as inventor, Feb. 7, 1871. The specification of the reissue says: “ The nature of my invention consists in the construction of a sheet-metal wash-board with a rubbing face longitudinally and transversely corrugated or ribbed, whereby such rubbing surface shall be made up of a series of projections, bounded by a series of horizontal, vertical, and angularly shaped grooves. The rubbing face somewhat resembles the face of a rasp or file in general appearance, though the projections are less sharp and angular.” “ In the accompanying drawing A represents the frame of the
wash-board, and is of ordinary construction. The rubbing surface is formed of sheet zinc or other suitable sheet metal, corrugated or provided with a series of raised portions, B, alternating, along the line of the corrugation or rib which forms them, with depressions or unraised portions, a, the corrugations and depressions extending in either direction across the sheet, so that a series of horizontal and vertical and also angularly shaped grooves are formed between the projections. Each projection, B, represents four inclined surfaces sloping from the apex of the projection into the grooves which surround and bound it. The grooves between the corrugations are also broken or interrupted at intervals by small projections or raised portions, C, each of which presents two lateral surfaces. In a wash-board thus longitudinally and transversely ribbed or corrugated, the inequalities of the rubbing surfaces are such that the desired effect is more readily and effectively attained, whereby the labor of washing is greatly diminished and is accomplished with ease and facility, and with less than the usual wear on the clothes." There are three claims in the patent, as follows: “1. A sheet-mietal wash-board having a series of raised projections, B, each bounded by longitudinal and transverse grooves or depressions, substantially as set forth. 2. In a sheet-metal wash-board the projections, B, each bounded by grooves or depressions, in combination with raised projections, C, in the bottoms of the interlying grooves, substantially as set forth. 3. As a new article of manufacture, a sheet-metal wash-board, having a rubbing face both longitudinally and transversely ribbed or corrugated, substantially as set forth.”
The wash-board of the defendant is made in accordance with the description contained in letters-patent No. 171,568, granted Dec. 28, 1875, to Aaron J. Hull. That description shows a sheet-metal wash-board provided with diamond-shaped projections, each bounded by diagonal grooves or depressions. The metal plate is described as being crimped to form oblong diamond-shaped projections, having the largest diameter running transversely across the board, each projection being bounded by a diagonal groove or depression, the upper corner of each diamond, where the grooves cross each other, being raised