Shepherd v. Hampton
by John Marshall
Court Documents

United States Supreme Court

16 U.S. 200

Shepherd  v.  Hampton

ERROR to the district court of Louisiana.

The plaintiffs filed their petition or libel in the court below, stating, that on the 12th day of December, 1814, they entered into a contract with the defendant for the purchase of 100,000 pounds weight of cotton to be delivered by the defendant to the plaintiffs on or before the 15th day of February, ensuing the date of said contract, the said cotton to be of prime quality, and in good order, and for which the plaintiffs stipulated to pay at the rate of ten cents per French pound; and in case the price of cotton, at the time of delivery, should exceed the above limited price, then the petitioners were to allow the common market price on 50,000 pounds of said cotton: and alleging a breach of the agreement on the part of the defendant in not delivering the cotton, &c.

The case agreed stated the contract as set forth in the petition, and that 49,108 pounds of cotton were delivered by the defendant under the contract about the time mentioned therein, to wit, on the 15th day of February, 1815, when the highest market price of cotton at New-Orleans was 12 cents per pound; that the defendant refused to deliver the remaining 50,892 pounds of cotton; that for some days after the said 15th day of February, 1815, the price of cotton remained stationary at about 12 cents; that it then began to rise, and continued gradually to rise until the commencement of this suit, when the market price was 30 cents per pound, and that the plaintiffs frequently called upon and demanded of the defendant the execution of said contract between the said 15th of February, 1815, and the time of bringing the present suit, and were ready and offered to comply with all the stipulations on their part, which was refused by the defendant.

Upon this state of the case the defendant contended, that the rule of damages for the breach of the contract must be the market price of cotton on the day the contract ought to have been executed.

The plaintiffs contended, that they were entitled to the difference between the price stipulated, and the highest market price up to the rendition of the judgment.

It was agreed, that if the court should be of opinion that the law is with the defendant, then judgment should be entered for the plaintiffs for the sum of 100 dollars damages; but if the court should be of opinion that the law was with the plaintiffs, then judgment should be entered for the plaintiffs for the difference between ten cents, the stipulated price, and thirty cents per pound, the present market price on the said 50,892 pounds of cotton, amounting to 10,178 dollars and 40 cents.

The cause was heard, according to the practice in the state of Louisiana, by the court below, on the case agreed, neither party demanding a jury.a Whereupon, after judgment, judgment was entered up for the plaintiff for the sum of 100 dollars damages, with costs, and the cause was brought by writ of error to this court.

Feb. 16th.

Mr. Winder for the plaintiffs, contended, that they were entitled to recover the difference between the stipulated price of the cotton and the highest market price at any time after the contract was made, up to the rendition of the judgment. He cited the authorities in the margin.b

No counsel appeared to argue the cause on the other side.

     Feb. 19th.

Mr. Chief Justice MARSHALL delivered the opinion of the court.

Notes Edit

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).

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