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Richardson v. Simon

decided: July 26, 1977.

NAPOLEON RICHARDSON AND FRANCISCO CHAIMOWICZ, AS EXECUTORS OF THE ESTATE OF CONCEPCION BRODERMANN STUETZEL, ALSO KNOWN AS CONCEPCION BRODERMANN, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,
v.
WILLIAM E. SIMON, AS SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY OF THE UNITED STATES, AND THE BANK OF NOVA SCOTIA, DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES



The executors of the estate of a former Cuban citizen and resident appeal from the judgment of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Thomas C. Platt, Jr., Judge, dismissing their complaint. Appellants claim that the refusal of the Secretary of the Treasury to issue a license releasing certain assets in the United States that were blocked, pursuant to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations, 31 C.F.R. § 515 (1976), violates the Trading with the Enemy Act of 1917, 50 App. U.S.C. § 1 et seq. and the fifth amendment's due process clause. Affirmed.

Moore, Smith and Mulligan, Circuit Judges. Moore, Circuit Judge, dissenting.

Author: Smith

SMITH, Circuit Judge:

Napoleon Richardson and Francisco Chaimowicz, the executors of the estate of Concepcion Brodermann Stuetzel, appeal from the judgment of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Thomas C. Platt, Jr., Judge, dismissing their complaint. The executors seek an order directing the Secretary of the Treasury ("the Secretary") to issue a license releasing certain assets that were blocked on July 8, 1963, pursuant to the Trading with the Enemy Act of 1917 ("the Act"), 50 App. U.S.C. § 1 et seq., and the Cuban Assets Control Regulations ("the Regulations"), 31 C.F.R. § 515 (1976). The executors claim that the Regulations are not authorized by the Act; if the Regulations are authorized, then the executors claim that the Act, as applied, violates the fifth amendment's due process clause. We reject both claims and affirm.

I.

Prior to July 8, 1963 Mr. and Mrs. Stuetzel, who were residents and citizens of Cuba, placed cash and stock certificates of the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey in a joint account in a New York City branch of the Bank of Nova Scotia ("the bank"). Pursuant to § 515.201 of the Regulations,*fn1 these assets were "blocked" on July 8, 1963. On August 24, 1965 Mr. Stuetzel died intestate in Cuba, and, under Cuban law, Mrs. Stuetzel was his sole heir. On October 13, 1969 Mrs. Stuetzel entered the United States as a permanent resident, and on November 4, 1969 she applied for a license releasing the blocked assets. On December 12, 1969 the Secretary granted her a license under which she received one-half of the blocked assets, pursuant to § 515.525(a)(1) of the Regulations.*fn2 Mrs. Stuetzel died in New York in October 1971, and under the terms of her will her residuary estate was devised to her niece, Elena Richardson. Mrs. Richardson is a United States citizen residing in New York. The Secretary denied the executors' application for a license unblocking the remaining assets held by the bank.*fn3

II.

We first consider whether the Regulations are consistent with the Act. United States v. Larionoff, 431 U.S. 864, 97 S. Ct. 2150, 53 L. Ed. 2d 48, 45 U.S.L.W. 4650, 4652 (1977). Section 515.525(b) of the Regulations says, in pertinent part, "no transfer to any person by intestate succession . . . shall be deemed to terminate the interest of the decedent in the property transferred if the decedent was a designated national." The executors invite this court to follow Real v. Simon, 510 F.2d 557, 564 (5th Cir. 1975), rehearing denied, 514 F.2d 738 (5th Cir. 1975) (per curiam) and to hold that this portion of the Regulations "is arbitrary and without basis in either the language or the purpose of the Trading with the Enemy Act." We decline the invitation.

Section 5(b)(1)(B) of the Act says, in pertinent part,

the President may . . . investigate, regulate direct and compel, nullify, void, prevent or prohibit, any acquisition holding, withholding, use, transfer, withdrawal, transportation, importation or exportation of, or dealing in, or exercising any right, power, or privilege with respect to, or transactions involving, any property in which any foreign country or a national thereof has any interest.

Both parties agree that the Cuban government has no interest in the blocked assets that Mr. Stuetzel had an interest in the assets when they were blocked on July 8, 1963. The parties disagree on whether Mr. Stuetzel still "has any interest" in the blocked assets.

The United States declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917, and the Act was passed on October 6, 1917.

Contemporaneous conditions and war legislation indicate a purpose to employ all legitimate means effectively to prosecute the war. The law should be liberally construed to give effect to the purposes it was enacted to subserve. . . . It was not necessary for Congress to ascertain the facts of or to deal with each case. . . . It was peculiarly within the province of the Commander-in-Chief to know the facts and ...


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