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United States Supreme Court

122 U.S. 575

Shippen  v.  Bowen

[Statement of Case from pages 575-577 intentionally omitted]

The bill of exceptions states that the plaintiff, to sustain the issues on his part, introduced evidence tending to show that at the date mentioned in the complaint defendant sold to him, for $8,000, 91 sheets of paper purporting to be Clark county, Arkansas, funding bonds; that said sheets of paper were forgeries, and not genuine bonds, as they purported on their face to be; that defendant, at the time of sale, expressly affirmed their regularity and validity, although he knew, or had reason to suspect, at the time, that they were not genuine and valid; that plaintiff believed and supposed that they were genuine and valid, and relied upon defendant's representations to that effect; and that plaintiff had no notice or knowledge that defendant was acting in said sale as agent for another person.

The defendant introduced evidence tending to show that said papers were genuine and valid Clark county, Arkansas, funding bonds; that at the time of the sale he made no statement, representation, or warranty as to their genuineness or validity, but, on the contrary, stated that he knew nothing of the circumstances under which they were issued; that he had neither notice nor knowledge of any want of validity or of any defects in said bonds, nor notice of any facts which would have aroused suspicion in reference to them; that, in the sale of said bonds to plaintiff, he was acting as the agent of Charles W. Tankersley, from whom he had received the bonds shortly before their sale, but did not at the time disclose to plaintiff his agency.

The court charged the jury that, upon the facts conceded before them, the bonds, by reason of certain unauthorized alterations of the coupons, were not valid and genuine obligations of the county of Clark. The jury were also instructed that whoever sells such instruments as those delivered to the plaintiff, 'if nothing whatever be said in respect to their character, by the act of selling warrants them to be the genuine obligations of the county; that is, that they are not forged or counterfeited, but are the true and proper obligations of the county, such as they purported to be on their face; and upon an action for breach of warranty, or an action upon the contract, the defendant would undoubtedly, beyond all question, be liable for the amount which he received for the bonds; * * * but this action is not of that character,-that is, it is not an action upon the contract alone. As I said to you in the outset, it is an action for a false representation, or for a misrepresentation, of fact, and there must be something more to maintain this action than the implied warranty which arises from the act of selling, and which is an inference of law coming from the act of selling.' The court said further upon the subject of warranty: 'It is not claimed that there were any direct representations in respect to the genuineness of those bonds made at the time of the sale thereof, except in this way: I think Mr. Shippen states that the defendant said he would warrant the title to the bonds. I will not undertake to repeat what the witnesses said in respect to that matter; the only witnesses were the parties to the suit, I believe, as to what was stated at the time.' Without giving more of the charge, it is sufficient to say that its scope is indicated by the circuit judge in the opinion delivered by him when denying the plaintiff's motion for a new trial. He said: 'The complainant charges that, to induce plaintiff to purchase certain bonds, the defendant represented that they were genuine and valid bonds, whereas, in truth and in fact, they were worthless forgeries. The court charged the jury that it was necessary for plaintiff to show that the defendant, at the time of the sale of the bonds to the plaintiff, misrepresented the facts concerning their genuineness. In other words, the court was of the opinion, and so charged the jury, that plaintiff could not recover in this action by merely proving a sale of the bonds to him by defendants, and that the bonds were forgeries. It was held to be necessary to prove knowledge on the part of the defendant of the forged character of the bonds, or an express misrepresentation concerning the fact of their genuineness. The counsel for plaintiff insists that in such a case as this no scienter need be alleged, nor if alleged need be proved. I am unable to concur in the soundness of this proposition.'

Geo. E. Adams, for plaintiff in error.

G. G. Symes, for defendant in error.

[Argument of Counsel from pages 579-581 intentionally omitted]

Mr. Justice HARLAN, after stating the facts of the case in the foregoing language, delivered the opinion of the court.


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).