Bank of Kentucky v. Wister (1829)

In Bank of Kentucky v. Wister (1829) 27 U.S. 318, the Bank of Kentucky was sued upon a certificate of deposit which it had refused to pay in gold or silver, and it entered a plea to the jurisdiction, based upon the fact that the entire capital stock of the bank was exclusively and solely the property of the state of Kentucky, and therefore the bank could not be sued. It was held, on the authority of the Planters' Bank Case, that although the state had an interest -- even as sole proprietor -- in the stock of the bank, that fact would not clothe the bank with the sovereign character of the state, so as to exempt it from suit; and, furthermore, the body corporate against which the suit was brought was entitled "the President and Directors of the Bank of the Commonwealth of Kentucky," which was its legal designation under incorporating act, and the state was not, and could not be considered, a party to the suit. In the Kentucky Case the state had the entire ownership of the bank and could therefore designate its officers and managers. The Court said that it had "uniformly held that a note payable to bearer is payable to anybody, and is not affected by the disabilities to sue of the nominal payee."