Standard Oil Company v. Van Etten
107 U.S. 325 (1882)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Standard Oil Company v. Van Etten, 107 U.S. 325 (1882)

Standard Oil Company v. Van Etten

Decided November 20, 1882

107 U.S. 325

Syllabus

1. Unless objected to within a reasonable time -- and what constitutes such a reasonable time is a question of law -- an account rendered becomes an account stated, and cannot be impeached except for fraud or mistake.

2. A witness was, on cross-examination, asked if he had not stated to different parties that he wished the plaintiffs to recover, as he would then get his pay. An objection to the question was made, and the defendant's counsel then declared that he did not propose to impeach the witness. Held that the objection was properly sustained.

3. A. made a contract with B. to deliver a specified number of matched barrel headings, to be properly piled on the land of B., who was to furnish a man to count them, as they were from time to time piled, in order to obtain an approximate estimate of the quantity piled, and thus to determine the amount of advances to A. under his contract, but the inspection and final count was to be made by an inspector appointed by B. at a point to which the latter shipped them. The property in the headings was to pass to B. on the delivery of them on his land. In a suit to recover the contract price of

Page 107 U. S. 326

them,

Held:

l. That no error was committed by the trial court in admitting evidence of the counts by both parties of the whole number of single pieces of heading, and submitting to the jury the comparison between them, the court having ruled that the inspector's final count, which formed the basis of an estimate and average from which the number of matched headings was deduced, was, if made fairly and in the exercise of his best judgment, binding on the parties unless its variance from the actual truth was too great to be accounted for by mere error of judgment in the matter of matching.

2. That although there was no evidence to show that all the pieces of heading shipped were in fact delivered at the point to which they had been sent, the jury were not bound to assume a loss in transportation in order to account for the discrepancy between the two counts.

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