In Schneider v. Schneider, 347 Mo. 102, 146 S.W.2d 584 (Sup. Ct. 1940), the court said, "Where all of the assets of a partnership are lawfully transferred to a corporation created by the partners, the partnership becomes functus officio and ceases to exist."Summary of this case from Scaglione v. St. Paul-Mercury Indem. Co.
January 4, 1941.
1. PARTNERSHIP: Status. A partnership is a status; a factual relationship between two or more persons conducting a business enterprise together.
Each of the partners becomes the agent of the others and of the partnership in matters connected with the business.
Each partner is entitled to a voice in the management, except in the case of statutory limited partnership, and liable to the full extent of his property to the creditors of the partnership.
2. PARTNERSHIP: Creation. The status of a partnership is created by a contract between persons who become partners.
The primary criterion of determining the issue whether a partnership exists is the intention of the parties.
It is not necessary that each partner fully understand all the legal incidents which follow the relationship.
One of the tests applied to determine the intention of the parties has to do with the sharing of the profits; ordinarily from the fact that profits are shared the existence of the partnership may be inferred.
But that inference is not altogether conclusive, particularly where the parties although agreeing to divide profits do not agree to share losses.
3. PARTNERSHIP: Evidence. A partnership agreement not signed by one of the alleged parties never became a contract, but it is of controlling importance as an admission by those who acted upon it.
The explanation that it was drawn to get rid of plaintiff who claimed under it does not take away the force of the admission.
4. PARTNERSHIP: Sharing Losses. A person connected with a business enterprise may have the right to share in the profits without obligation to share in the losses.
And this may be because he is an employee, or an agent, or del credere factor of the other.
Where there is an agreement to share profits and no clear understanding that the losses are not to be divided, a partnership may be implied which would carry with it the obligation to participate in the payment of the losses.
5. PARTNERSHIP: Dissolution. In an action by an alleged partner for a dissolution of the partnership and an accounting, plaintiff alleging that he was ousted from the partnership, where the evidence showed that the individual defendants refused to permit plaintiff to have anything to do with the business and removed his tools and equipment from the business, such expulsion warrants a judicial dissolution.
Where all the assets of a partnership were lawfully transferred to a corporation created by the partners, the partnership became functus officio and ceased to exist.
The same rule is accomplished where a part of the partners, usurping control of the partnership, unlawfully convey away its assets.
In such case a decree of dissolution is warranted and required by the wrongful conduct of the individual parties defendant.
6. CORPORATION: Dissolution. A court of equity is without jurisdiction to dissolve a corporation which exists by virtue of a primary franchise granted by the State.
Corporate dissolution means the termination of the corporate existence and the ending of such franchise and can be brought about only by a court of law as distinguished from one of chancery.
The mere sale of the corporate assets, including the good will, does not end a corporate existence.
The power to appoint a receiver to take over the business of a corporation is one which should be sparingly exercised but under exceptional circumstances a court of chancery is not only justified in taking over the complete management of a corporation through a receiver, but can cause such receiver to dispose of all corporate assets.
7. PARTNERSHIP: Excluding Partner. When certain of the partners wrongfully exclude another from its business and take unto themselves the assets of the firm they become, as to the excluded partner, trustees ex maleficio.
Where plaintiff, owning one-third interest in the partnership property, was expelled from the partnership and his part held by his mother, she held it in trust for him, and where the other partners transferred the property to a corporate defendant, the corporation held the property subject to the trust.
A corporation, being an artificial person created by operation of law, can act only through its officers, directors and agents.
It was bound by knowledge coming to them within the scope of their duties.
Where partnership property was turned over to a corporation it was bound by the knowledge of the incorporators of plaintiff's interest in the partnership and the trial court had authority to trace the trust property into the hands of the corporation to impress it with the nature of the trust or to declare it subject to a lien in favor of the defrauded partner.
8. PARTNERSHIP: Accounting. Where plaintiff was ousted from participating in the partnership of which he owned one-third of the property and it was transferred to a corporation, in an action for a dissolution of the partnership and an accounting plaintiff was entitled to one-third of the net value of the partnership assets at the time its property was transferred to the corporation, less various items on the liability side of the balance sheet, and any increase in the corporate assets at the time of the incorporation should be accounted for, but would be balanced by the noncapital liabilities shown on the balance sheet or would represent profits from the corporation of which plaintiff would be entitled to one-third interest.
Where certain accounts were shown to have been paid they were necessarily made either from the cash shown in the assets or from profits arising from the sale of inventoried merchandise; in such event a decrease in the outstanding liabilities would have been balanced by the decrease in the assets.
In such proceeding the use of the building owned by one of the partners should be allowed as a liability in the accounting.
Likewise an item of indebtedness due from one of the partners for money advanced for payment of an insurance premium should be allowed as a liability.
The fact that such items were owed to two of the defendant partners could not affect the case.
A balance sheet would not clearly reflect the original partnership assets plus subsequent corporate profits unless such expenses were taken into consideration.
Where money was advanced by one of the partners and went to increase the corporate assets, the items should be taken into consideration.
In such an accounting the trial court erred in allowing interest to the plaintiff from the date of the conversion of his partnership assets and at the same time allowing one-third of the profits.
9. PARTNERSHIP: Accounting. Where he owned a part of the assets of a business as partner and was ousted by his copartners who organized a corporation and transferred the assets of the partnership to the corporation, in plaintiff's action for a dissolution and an accounting the decree of the trial court should be reversed and the cause remanded with directions as to the accounting and finding the amount due the plaintiff and a judgment so rendered in plaintiff's favor should be a prior and superior lien upon all the property of the former partnership transferred to the corporation with interest on such amount from the time that plaintiff was ousted from participation in the partnership, and other matters specifically set forth in the opinion.
Appeal from Circuit Court of City of St. Louis. — Hon. John W. Joynt, Judge.
REVERSED AND REMANDED ( with directions).
Noah Weinstein and Fred J. Hoffmeister for appellants.
(1) In order to constitute a partnership there must be community of interest, a sharing in the profits and losses as such, the existence of mutual relationship of principal and agent, and an intention on the part of the persons interested and uniting in the prosecution of the common enterprise, to become and act as partners. Hughes v. Ewing, 162 Mo. 295; Prasse v. Prasse, 77 S.W.2d 1005; Massa v. Union E.L. P. Co., 50 S.W.2d 719. (a) There must be an agreement between the members that each shall share in the profits and be personally liable for his share of the losses. Taussig Co. v. Poindexter, 30 S.W.2d 638; Natl. Bank of Commerce v. Francis, 296 Mo. 192, 246 S.W. 332; Thompson v. Holden, 117 Mo. 128; Gill v. Ferris, 82 Mo. 167; Massa v. Union E.L. P. Co., 50 S.W.2d 719. (b) The intention of the parties, deducible from their acts, rather than specific intent to create or not to create partnership, is controlling, and may be manifested by terms of agreement, conduct of parties to each other under it, or circumstances surrounding transactions. Prasse v. Prasse, 77 S.W.2d 1005; Mackie v. Matt, 146 Mo. 254; Thompson v. Holden, 117 Mo. 128. (c) And to establish a partnership, its existence must be proved by evidence which is cogent, clear and convincing, and its terms must be unequivocally and unconditionally agreed to by the parties. Prasse v. Prasse, 77 S.W.2d 1005; Chapin v. Cherry, 243 Mo. 408. (2) The court should not appoint a receiver of partnership property unless it is shown that such appointment is necessary for the protection of property rights or interests of the parties and that there is danger of loss unless a receiver is appointed. The mere fact that the partners are unable to agree upon an adjustment of the affairs is not a sufficient reason for the appointment of a receiver. Ingram v. Clover Leaf Lbr. Co., 55 S.W.2d 298; 47 C.J. 1218, sec. 930. (3) In an equitable action the appellate court will review the evidence adduced before a referee or special master and make its own findings and reach its own conclusions. State ex rel. Raleigh Inv. Co. v. Allen, 294 Mo. 220; Mack v. Wurmser, 135 Mo. 67; Small v. Hatch, 151 Mo. 307.
Harry Gershenson for respondent.
(1) Existence of partnership depends on intention of parties, and may be shown from the facts and circumstances in evidence and by the conduct of the parties in the event the partnership rests on parol agreement. Myers v. St. Louis Structural Steel Co., 65 S.W.2d 931; Burroughs v. Lasswell, 108 S.W.2d 711; Stone v. Guth, 102 S.W.2d 741. (2) Deference should be given by this court to the findings of the chancellor, as well as the referee, where there is an irreconcilable conflict in the testimony. Neville v. D'Oench, 34 S.W.2d 506. (3) The rights and duties of partners as between themselves are to be governed by the rules applicable to trustees and agents and the trust relation is not terminated with the dissolution of the partnership, but continues until a final adjustment and settlement of the partnership affairs. Filbrun v. Ivers, 92 Mo. 388. (4) A community of profits implies a community of losses. Strickland v. Chenot, 45 S.W.2d 939. (5) It is a well-settled principle of law where one party contributes the capital and the other the labor and skill for carrying on a joint enterprise, such combination constitutes a partnership, unless something appears to indicate the absence of a joint ownership of the business and profits. State ex rel. v. Daues, 13 S.W.2d 539.
This is a suit in equity, brought by the present respondent against his brother the appellant Elmer Schneider, his mother Emma Schneider who died before the entering of the interlocutory decree, and the appellant Schneider Sales and Service, Inc., a Missouri corporation. After the death of Emma Schneider the executors under her will were made defendants and later, after the filing of a will contest suit, an administrator pendente lite was appointed and made a party. The original bill in equity alleged that Elmer Schneider, Emma Schneider and the plaintiff entered into a partnership in the year 1929 and, as partners, operated a business enterprise known as the Schneider Nash Sales and Service. The principal place of business of the partnership was in St. Louis, Missouri, and it was engaged in the sale and servicing of automobiles, motor boats and gasoline engines and their parts and appliances. The bill further alleged that the plaintiff devoted all of his time to the business of the partnership, but that in the year 1934 the other two partners, to whom we shall refer as the original defendants, wrongfully excluded plaintiff from further participation in the business and refused to account to him for his share therein; that they squandered and dissipated partnership assets and paid to themselves unreasonably large salaries and commissions; that after the ouster of the plaintiff from participation in the business the two original individual defendants formed a corporation, which is the corporate defendant herein, and transferred to said corporation, which they owned and controlled, the assets of the old partnership. The bill prays for a dissolution of the partnership and an accounting and injunction against further transfer of the assets and for general equitable relief.
The answer denies the existence of a partnership and alleges that on the contrary the business carried on under the name of Schneider Nash Sales and Service was in fact wholly owned and managed by Emma Schneider as a sole trader, plaintiff being one of her employees. The answer also contained a counterclaim. It prayed for a dismissal of plaintiff's bill and for judgment on the counterclaim in the sum of $9000.
The cause was heard by the chancellor on bill, answer and proofs and an interlocutory decree rendered based upon a finding of the existence of a partnership and the wrongful ouster of the plaintiff by the individual defendants, his copartners. There was a finding that the plaintiff owed to the defendants the sum of $100 on their counterclaim. The interlocutory decree appointed a receiver to take charge of the business and property of the corporate defendant, and also a referee or special master for the purpose of taking an accounting between the plaintiff and the defendants, and retained jurisdiction for further proceedings.
The cause thereupon proceeded before the referee who, in due course, reported to the court, recommending that a decree be entered in favor of the plaintiff and against the defendants in the sum of $10,000, that defendants be allowed credit in the sum of $100 on their counterclaim; and that plaintiff have judgment for interest on such net sum of $9900 at six per cent per annum from January 26, 1935, making a total judgment of $12,721.50. The court, overruling exceptions to the special master's report, entered a final decree in accordance therewith, making the judgment in favor of the plaintiff a lien upon all of the assets of the corporate defendant prior and superior to all claims, except certain particular items of corporate liability amounting to $1837.97 particularly scheduled in the referee's report.
The decree further provided for the continuance of the receivership of the corporate defendant; and that, unless the amount of the judgment above set out should be paid within thirty days after its rendition, the receiver should sell all of the property of the defendant corporation, together with its business and goodwill, at public sale, and should pay out of the amount received at such sale the costs, including the expenses of receivership, special master's fees, and all court costs, and the items aggregating $1837.97 given priority, as aforesaid, and then pay the principal and accrued interest on the judgment to plaintiff, paying over any surplus to the defendants.
The defendants, having unsuccessfully filed motions for a new trial and for the dissolution of the receivership, appealed to this court. Appellants contend, in the first place, that an interlocutory decree ordering a dissolution of the alleged partnership and the taking of an accounting between the partners was improper for the reason that no partnership ever existed. A partnership is a status; that is, it is a factual relationship between two or more persons who are conducting a business enterprise together. The central fact of that relation is community of ownership of the business. Certain legal consequences follow necessarily from the existence of partnership status. Each of the partners becomes the agent of the others and of the partnership in all matters connected with its business. Each partner is entitled to a voice in the management of the business enterprise, and, except in the case of statutory limited partnerships, each becomes liable to the full extent of his property to the creditors of the partnership; each is entitled to a share in the profits, the amount of such share being determined by the agreement between the parties.
The status of partnership is created by a contract between the persons who become partners. But such agreement may be either oral or written, verbally expressed or implied from the acts and conduct of the parties themselves. The primary criterion to be applied in determining the issue of partnership vel non is that of the intention of the parties. [Prasse v. Prasse (Mo.), 77 S.W.2d 1001; Neville v. D'Oench, 327 Mo. 34, 34 S.W.2d 491.] This statement, however, must not be construed as meaning that each of the partners must fully understand all of the legal incidents which follow upon partnership existence. Such a requirement would practically limit partnerships to those created by carefully drawn written articles or to those between attorneys at law. One of the tests applied to determine the intention of the parties in this connection has to do with their sharing of profits. Ordinarily from the fact that profits are shared, an inference of the existence of a partnership may be drawn. [Torbert v. Jeffrey, 161 Mo. 645, 61 S.W. 823.] But this inference is not altogether conclusive, particularly where the parties, although agreeing to divide profits, do not agree to share any possible losses. [Gill v. Ferris, 82 Mo. 156.]
The record evidence in the present case in regard to the formation of the alleged partnership is somewhat conflicting. Respondent testified about a conference held with his brother and mother in the early part of 1929. At such conference it was agreed that the parties would enter into business, but the amount of the investment of each was not specified. The enterprise was to be carried on in a building owned by the mother. Plaintiff was to run the service department and the other two were to look after sales. The arrangements, if any, in regard to the payment of expenses were far from clear. Respondent says that each was to get 1/3 of the profits out of the business, but that he never actually received any share.
The individual defendants denied that they intended to enter into such partnership or that there was any agreement as to the division of profits. However, in 1930, after a disagreement had arisen between the parties, a written contract was drawn up at plaintiff's request. It seems to have been written by Elmer Schneider but not signed by him. It was signed by Emma Schneider. According to its terms plaintiff was to sell to his brother and mother for the sum of $742, "All my right, title and interest in and to all of the assets and property owned and belonging to the Schneider Nash Sales and Service, a copartnership consisting of the said J.C. Schneider, Emma Schneider and Elmer Schneider . . . the effect of this instrument being to dissolve said partnership and continue the said business in the names of the said Emma Schneider and Elmer Schneider, who will assume all outstandings and obligations of the same." (Italics ours.) After this document was executed by Emma Schneider, it was referred to the respondent; but, as he was dissatisfied with the amount provided as payment for his interest, he refused to agree thereto. The document of course, not being signed or agreed to by the respondent, never became a contract; but it is of controlling importance as an admission on the part of Elmer Schneider and Emma Schneider of the existence of the partnership. Nor is the explanation offered that it was drawn up by them in an effort to get rid of respondent sufficient to take away the force of the admission. We are constrained therefore to hold that a partnership did exist from the early part of 1929 on.
Appellants point out that respondent's own evidence fails to disclose an agreement that the alleged partners were to share any losses. It is true that a person connected with a business enterprise may have the right to share profits without the obligation to share in losses, and that this may be because he is not a partner but is an employee, agent, or del credere factor of the other. [Mulholland v. Rapp, 50 Mo. 42; Donnell v. Harshe, 67 Mo. 170; Mackie v. Mott, 146 Mo. 230, 47 S.W. 897.] On the other hand, where there is an agreement to share profits and no clear understanding that the losses are not to be divided, a partnership may be implied which would carry with it the obligation to participate in the payment of losses. [Lengle v. Smith, 48 Mo. 276.] This seems to be the situation in the instant case.
The necessary question is whether or not the individual defendants repudiated the partnership and ousted respondent from participation therein so as to justify judicial dissolution. The record shows that the individual defendants refused to permit respondent to have anything to do with the business and physically removed his tools and equipment from the business. While it is hinted that this action was caused by his indolence and inefficiency, there is no evidence tending to show misconduct on his part. Such expulsion of a partner alone warrants judicial dissolution. [20 R.C.L. 956.] In addition it is shown that after expelling respondent from the business his mother and brother organized the corporate defendant, owning and controlling its capital stock and managing its business, and that they transferred to it all of the assets of the partnership. Where all of the assets of a partnership are lawfully transferred to a corporation created by the partners, the partnership becomes functus officio and ceases to exist. [Seufert v. Gille, 230 Mo. 453, 131 S.W. 102, 31 L.R.A. (N.S.) 471.] A fortiori the same rule is accomplished where a part of the partners, usurping control over the partnership, unlawfully convey away its assets. [Creath v. Nelson Distilling Co., 70 Mo. App. 296.] It is, therefore, plain that a decree of dissolution is warranted and required by the wrongful conduct of the individual appellants.
Appellants next insist that the chancellor improperly appointed a receiver for the corporate defendant and that, in any event, a decree ordering the sale of all corporate assets by such receiver was improper because it would, in effect, dissolve the appellant corporation. We have repeatedly held that a court of equity is without jurisdiction to dissolve a corporation. [State ex rel. Donnell v. Foster, 225 Mo. 171, 125 S.W. 184; Ashton v. Penfield, 233 Mo. 391, 135 S.W. 938; State ex rel. Kansas City Missouri River Navigation Company v. Dew, 312 Mo. 300, 279 S.W. 65; State ex rel. Kopke v. Mulloy, 329 Mo. 1, 43 S.W.2d 806.] A corporation exists as such by virtue of a primary franchise granted by the State. Corporate dissolution within the meaning of the above cases means the termination of corporate existence and the ending of such franchise. The premature death of the artificial corporate person can be brought about only by a court of law as distinguished from one of chancery. On the other hand the mere sale of corporate assets, including such intangibles as good will and going-concern values, does not end a corporate existence any more than the stripping away of a natural person's assets through bankruptcy is equivalent to his death. The power to appoint a receiver to take over the business of a corporation is one which should be sparingly exercised. The chancellor should proceed in such a matter with the greatest of caution. But our decisions have clearly recognized that under exceptional circumstances a court of chancery is not only justified in taking over the complete management of a corporation through a receiver, but can cause such receiver to dispose of all corporate assets. [Thompson v. Greeley, 107 Mo. 577, 17 S.W. 962, cited with approval in State ex rel. Kopke v. Mulloy, supra.] We are forced to conclude that the circumstances of the present case justify such a proceeding.
The relationship inter sese of the members of a partnership is a fiduciary one. When certain of the partners wrongfully exclude another from its business and take unto themselves the assets of the firm they become, as to the excluded partner, trustees ex maleficio. [Filbrun v. Ivers, 92 Mo. 388, 4 S.W. 674.] Therefore, after the expulsion of respondent, Elmer Schneider and his mother held 1/3 of the partnership property in trust for the respondent. They thereafter conveyed this trust property to the corporate defendant. Where a trustee, in breach of trust, transfers trust property to another who either pays no value for the transfer or takes with notice of the breach of trust, the transferee holds the property subject to the trust. He becomes a constructive trustee himself. [Am. Law Institute, Restatement of Trusts, sec. 288.] A corporation, being an artificial person created by operation of law, can act only through its officers, directors and agents. It is bound by knowledge coming to them within the scope of their duties. In the instant case 98 of the 100 shares of capital stock of the defendant corporation were held at the time of its incorporation by Emma Schneider, and one share by Elmer Schneider. The remaining share was held by Elmer Schneider's wife, presumably to comply with the statutory requirement of three incorporators. Emma and Elmer Schneider constituted a majority of the corporate board of directors and were the officers and managing agents of the company. In fact it was simply their alter ego. The corporation is therefore bound by their knowledge. It became and was a constructive trustee of the partnership property turned over to it, which apparently constituted the whole of its assets at the time of incorporation. The court below had authority to trace the trust property into the hands of the corporation, to impress it with the nature of a trust, or to declare it subject to a lien in favor of the defrauded partner and to aid him in recovering what belonged to him through its processes of sequestration. If, as a practical matter, this involved a receiver's sale of the entire corporate business, the court was justified in ordering such sale. No error was therefore committed in this respect.
Appellants complain of the findings of the referee, approved by the court, in regard to the amount due to respondent on the accounting. Applying the principles stated in the foregoing portion of this opinion, it is plain that respondent was entitled to receive from the appellants: (1) 1/3 of the net value of the partnership at the time its property was wrongfully transferred to the corporate defendant; and (2) 1/3 of any net profits earned since such transfer. [27 Har. Law Rev. 125.] The evidence introduced before the referee does not disclose directly what the value of respondent's 1/3 share in the partnership was in 1935, the time of the wrongful transfer to the corporation. The method of accounting adopted by the special master seems to have been the following: He referred to a report filed by the receiver on June 1, 1938, in the form of a financial statement or balance sheet of the corporation. This report he accepted as reflecting the financial condition of the company in so far as the same was shown by its books. Appellants complain of the use of this report on the ground that it was not introduced in evidence; but on the hearing before the referee it was referred to by both parties and apparently accepted by them as correctly summarizing the corporate books of account. The referee then proceeded to examine the various items shown on the liability side of the balance sheet, and to disallow some of them, thus reducing the noncapital liabilities by a considerable sum. In this manner he arrived at a figure for the present net worth of the corporation and apparently intended to allow respondent 1/3 of such net worth. The amount of recommended judgment in favor of respondent, however, after deducting $100 found due to the appellants on their counterclaim, is not 1/3 of the net worth of the corporation, and we are unable to perceive how the referee or chancellor arrived at the figure of $9900 mentioned in the decree.
The theory which the referee seems to have adopted is, apparently, that the entire corporate assets at the time of incorporation consisted of the partnership property wrongfully transferred to the corporation in which respondent had a 1/3 interest; that any increase in corporate assets since the time of incorporation would be accounted for by money lent to or credit extended to the company, in which case such increase would be exactly balanced by noncapital liabilities shown on the balance sheet, or would represent profits from the operation of the corporate business in which respondent would be entitled to a 1/3 interest. But in accepting — for want of more accurate evidence — this theory of accounting, it is apparent that the referee improperly disallowed certain items of liability. In the first place he reduced the accounts payable from the figures shown in the balance sheet because there was evidence that after the compilation of the balance sheet certain of these accounts had been paid. Assuming that this was true, however, the payment was necessarily made either from cash shown on the asset side of the balance sheet or from profits arising from the sale of inventoried merchandise, the cost of which appears as an asset in the financial statement. In either event a decrease in outstanding liabilities would have been balanced by a decrease in assets. But the referee based his calculations on the gross amount of assets shown in the balance sheet.
The partnership, and later the corporation, occupied for business purposes a building which was the sole and separate property of Emma Schneider. For the use of this building it agreed to pay her rent and the amount of such rent appears among the liabilities as an account due to her. The referee disallowed this item. In the same manner he disallowed an item of indebtedness to Elmer Schneider for money advanced by him in the payment of insurance premiums. It is obvious that the business could not be conducted unless a building were rented from someone and unless insurance policies were carried. Reasonable charges therefore for such items are proper liabilities to be considered, and the fact that such items were owed to two of the defendants could not affect the case. It cannot be said that the balance sheet would correctly reflect the original partnership assets plus subsequent corporate profits unless these expenses were taken into account. The referee should, therefore, have determined whether the charges made were reasonable and just and allowed them at a proper figure. Another item disallowed was for advances alleged to have been made to the business by Lillie Schneider, wife of the defendant Elmer Schneider. Here again if money were actually advanced by her and went to increase the corporate assets, the items should be taken into consideration. As to some of the items of indebtedness to her there is some question, but the referee made no finding as to the amount actually furnished by her but disallowed the entire amount. The referee properly disallowed the salary claim of Elmer Schneider. As one of the original wrongdoers and as a partner his rights should be limited to a 1/3 participation in the profits.
We are unable to understand the theory upon which the trial court allowed interest to the respondent from the date of the conversion of partnership assets until the date of the final decree and at the same time allowed him 1/3 of the profits made during the same period. If he is entitled to participation in profits he would not be entitled to interest. If interest is allowed, participation in profits could not be allowed.
The decree grants, to the claim of the respondent to a part in the corporate assets, priority over all claims thereon except certain accounts payable scheduled in the referee's report. As stated, the claims of Lillie Schneider are not included in those given prior standing, but are disallowed altogether. Lillie Schneider was not a party to this proceeding nor was she given formal notice of the receivership and an opportunity to file a claim and be heard thereon. The decree could not thus dispose of her rights without affording her such notice and hearing. Proper procedure in a receivership is to give notice to all creditors, permitting them before a specified day to file claims with the court, and allow a hearing on all such claims.
For the reasons above assigned we hold that the final decree herein is erroneous and cannot be permitted to stand as entered. It is our conclusion that the judgment should be reversed and that the cause be remanded with directions to the court below: (1) to enter judgment for the respondent and against the appellants for the sum of one-third of twenty thousand dollars ($20,000), to-wit, six thousand six hundred and sixty-six dollars and sixty-six cents ($6,666.66) — the first and larger of said sums being the admitted net assets turned over by the co-partnership to the corporation in January, 1935 — which judgment shall be a prior and superior lien upon all the property, assets and affairs of said corporation and superior to all debts, obligations, claims or demands of any kind or character, together with interest thereon at the rate of six per centum (6%) per annum from January 26, 1935, the date of incorporation and conversion referred to above; (2) and for further proceedings in respect to the appellants not inconsistent with this opinion.
It is so ordered. All concur.