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Harten v. Loffler

Court Documents

United States Supreme Court

212 U.S. 397

Harten  v.  Loffler

 Argued: and submitted January 26, 1909. --- Decided: February 23, 1909

The defendant in error, hereafter called the plaintiff, commenced this action against the plaintiff in error, hereafter called the defendant, in the supreme court of the District of Columbia to recover damages for the refusal of the defendant to perform a written agreement made between the plaintiff and the defendant and his wife, by which the defendant agreed to convey certain premises on Brightwood avenue, or Seventh street, in the District of Columbia, to the plaintiff for the sum of $12,000.

The defendant denied the alleged agreement, and also pleaded a set-off to recover $20,000 damages against the plaintiff for the plaintiff's own failure to perform the agreement set up by defendant.

The plaintiff replied, denying the defendant's averments as to set-off, and the latter joined issue on plaintiff's replication.

A trial was had before a jury, and terminated in a verdict for the plaintiff for $1,250, with interest on $250 from April 27, 1905, upon which judgment was entered.

Upon appeal to the court of appeals of the District, that court affirmed the judgment (29 App. D. C. 490), and the defendant sued out a writ of error from this court.

The material facts in the case are as follows:

The defendant, on the 27th of April, 1905, was the owner of a lot or parcel of land on Brightwood avenue, or Seventh street, a half mile north of Brightwood in the District of Columbia. On the date named the parties entered into an agreement, and the defendant and his wife signed the same, as follows:

'For and in consideration of the sum of twelve thousand dollars, two hundred and fifty dollars whereof is hereby acknowledged, I hereby agree to sell to Ernest Loffler the property, good will, license, and fixtures, located on Brightwood avenue near Battle Ground Cemetery, fronting on Brightwood avenue about sixty feet, with a depth of about two hundred feet, title and transfer of license guaranteed or deposit refunded. I agree to use my best efforts to secure the signers for the transfer of said license, and to give said Loffler a clear title to all of above property.'

To understand more readily the applicability of the evidence a diagram showing the shape of the lot and the location of the building is given below.


The principal questions on the trial arose in regard to the admission and exclusion of certain evidence by parol and upon exceptions taken to the charge.

The opinion of the court of appeals was delivered by the late Mr. Justice McComas, who made a synopsis of the facts and evidence, which is herewith inserted:


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).