Hughes v. Moore - 11 U.S. 176 (1812)


U.S. Supreme Court

Hughes v. Moore, 11 U.S. 7 Cranch 176 176 (1812)

Hughes v. Moore

11 U.S. (7 Cranch) 176

Syllabus

A plaintiff may before verdict discontinue a count in his declaration and waive the issues joined thereon.

Oyer of a deed set forth in the first count does not make that deed part of the record so as to apply it to other counts in the declaration.

A promise to pay a sum of money as a compensation to the plaintiff for the injury done him by the misconduct of the defendant in obtaining a patent in his own name for land which he ought to have patented in the name of the plaintiff, and in preventing the plaintiff from obtaining a patent in his own name, and in consideration of the defendant's having procured the patent to be issued to himself, is a contract for the sale of land within the statute of frauds, and must be in writing.

This was a special action of assumpsit brought by Moore against Hughes. The declaration, after several amendments, contained four counts.

Page 11 U. S. 177

1. The first count stated that

"Whereas, on 16 June, 1797, it was agreed between the plaintiff and one John Darby by a writing under their hands and seals, now here shown to the court, in substance as follows:"

" Whereas Cleon Moore had located in his own name 9,922 acres of land in Kentucky by a Treasury warrant, No. 19,100, . . . and the said Cleon Moore hath sold all his right, title and interest of, and in the same, to John Darby, for the consideration of 300 and warrants that no person or persons claiming under John Tebbs, now deceased, or under him the said Cleon Moore shall interrupt him, the said John Darby, in his said claim to the said lands, but as to all other claims he is to run the risk, and on their account will never require, that the said Cleon Moore or any other person or persons shall refund the said 300 or any part thereof, but if there should be as much land secured by the said location as will bring two thousand pounds or upwards, the said John Darby is to pay the said Cleon Moore 700 in money over and above the said three hundred pounds, so that he may receive altogether, one thousand pounds; otherwise the said Cleon Moore is only to have the said consideration of three hundred pounds."

"At the bottom of which writing was a receipt in these words,"

" Received of John Darby, the sum of three hundred pounds, the full consideration for the first mentioned location, in the foregoing agreement, or of his right, title, and interest of, and in the same -- Cleon Moore and a seal."

"And whereas on the same day a memorandum in writing and under the seals of the plaintiff and the said Darby was added and endorsed on the said agreement as part thereof as follows:"

" Memorandum -- If a patent or patents have already issued for the first within mentioned location, the said Moore doth agree to assign the same, to the within named John Darby, his heirs and assigns, or if not issued, that they issue in the name of the said Cleon Moore and he is to assign them to the said John Darby, his heirs and assigns, and if in the opinion of any two respectable men in the neighborhood of the said lands, to be mutually chosen, shall say the said lands will sell for two thousand pounds or upwards, the said John Darby doth bind himself, his heirs and assigns, to pay unto the said Cleon Moore his executors,

Page 11 U. S. 178

administrators and assigns, the sum of seven hundred pounds, as herein mentioned."

"And whereas the said defendant afterwards, on 5 October, 1799, well knowing the contract and covenants aforesaid between the said Cleon Moore and John Darby, and more especially well knowing that a patent or grant had not then been issued for the tract of 9,922 acres, located in the name of the said Cleon Moore and well knowing that the patent for that land ought, and could only be issued unto the said Cleon Moore and well knowing that the said Cleon Moore was entitled to the sum of 700 lawful money of Virginia, of the value of $2,333.33, provided, in the opinion of any two respectable men in the neighborhood of the said lands, to be mutually chosen, they should say the said lands would sell for 2,000 or upwards, lawful money of Virginia, and whereas the defendant, well knowing that the said lands were really and truly worth, on the day and year last mentioned, a much greater sum than 2,000 and well knowing that it would materially injure the plaintiff in his contract aforesaid, and would materially benefit the said John Darby and himself, the said defendant, he the said defendant, on said 5 October, &c., assigned the plat and certificate of survey, made of the said 9,922 acres, and a warrant numbered 19605, in the name of the plaintiff, unto himself, the said defendant, and the said John Darby, without any lawful authority, so to do from the said Cleon Moore by making and subscribing the said assignment of the said survey, in the name of him, the said Cleon Moore by him the said James Hughes, as attorney in fact, for the said Cleon Moore which assignment, imported a desire of him the said Cleon, that patents nights issue in the names of the said Darby and Hughes, intending thereby to defraud and injure the said Cleon Moore and to benefit himself and the said John Darby, in respect to the premises aforesaid. And whereas the said James Hughes, by means of the hereinbefore mentioned assignment, had caused and done to the plaintiff, an injury to the value of a great sum of money, to-wit, the value of $4,000, which he was disposed to compensate, the said James Hughes, in consideration thereof, afterwards, viz., on 17 March, 1806, came to an agreement with

Page 11 U. S. 179

the said Cleon Moore whereby the said Cleon Moore promised that he would quit all claim to the said tract of land and discharge the said James Hughes of and concerning all damages for and by reason of his actings and doings aforesaid in assigning the survey in manner aforesaid, and he the said James Hughes promised to the said Cleon Moore that he would pay to him the sum of 700 when he should be thereafter required, and the plaintiff avers that he has been always ready to keep, and has always kept his promise aforesaid, in consideration of which premises, the defendant became liable to pay to him, the said sum of 700l &c., and being so liable, the defendant in consideration thereof, undertook,"

&c.

2. The second count stated that

"Whereas, on 5 October, 1799, the plaintiff was owner and proprietor of a certain plat and certificate of survey of 9,922 acres of land in Mason County in the State of Kentucky, dated 28 November, 1796, of the value of $20,000, and whereas the defendant well knowing the premises afterwards, viz., on 5 October, 1799, without any lawful authority from the plaintiff, and with a view to benefit himself, and a certain John Darby, and to injury the plaintiff in this particular, assigned the last mentioned plat and certificate of survey unto him the said defendant, and the said John Darby, by subscribing the name of the said Cleon Moore by the said James Hughes, as attorney in fact for the said Cleon Moore and in consequence of the said unauthorized assignment, a grant of the said tract of land was afterwards made to the defendant, and the said Darby, by the Commonwealth of Kentucky, styling them assignees of the plaintiff. And whereas the defendant, by the assignment aforesaid, had caused and done to the plaintiff an injury and loss to the value of a great sum of money, viz., to the value of $4,000, which he was willing to repair and compensate, in consideration thereof the said defendant afterwards, viz., on 7 March, 1806, at the County of Alexandria, &c., promised to pay to the plaintiff the sum of 700 lawful money of Virginia as compensation for the said injury and loss of the said land assigned as aforesaid."

The said plaintiff at the same time agreed to the said terms and to accept of the said compensation in full of

Page 11 U. S. 180

all claims and demands for the said land and for the injury aforesaid. And the plaintiff avers that he has always kept his promise aforesaid, and has been at all times ready and willing to do everything on his part to be done, and afterwards, viz., on, &c., at, &c., offered to perform the agreement on his part, and the defendant then and there refused to perform, &c., whereby the defendant became liable, &c., and being so liable, promised to pay, &c.

3. The 3d count stated that

"Whereas the plaintiff, by virtue of a certain land warrant issued . . . on 26 September, 1783, duly located by entry on 7 December, 1783, and duly executed by actually survey, duly made on 28 November, 1796, a plat and certificate whereof had been duly made and delivered according to law, was entitled to have a grant from the Commonwealth of Kentucky by patent to be founded on the said survey, and to be completed and issued to him of 9,922 acres of land in the County of Mason, . . . bounded. . . . And whereas the defendant had on 5 October, 1799 (the plaintiff, being so entitled to have the land patented to him aforesaid, and the defendant well knowing the premises), for his own gain and advantage and to the great wrong and damage of the plaintiff, without any lawful authority to that effect from the plaintiff, and without his knowledge or consent, but under color and pretense of being attorney in fact for the plaintiff, wrongfully, injuriously, and willfully made and executed in the name of the plaintiff, a certain endorsement in writing, upon the back of the said plat and certificate of survey, purporting to be an assignment by the plaintiff, of the said plat and certificate, to one John Darby and the said James Hughes, for value received, and purporting to express a desire of the plaintiff that patents might issue in their names, and purporting to be subscribed with the name of the plaintiff, by the said James Hughes, his attorney in fact. And whereas the said James, afterwards, viz., on 5 April, 1800 (the plaintiff being entitled to have the said land patented to him as aforesaid), without any authority to that effect from the plaintiff and without his knowledge or consent, by means of the said pretended assignment and under color of the same, for his own gain and advantage, and to the great wrong

Page 11 U. S. 181

and damage of the plaintiff, wrongfully, injuriously, and willfully caused and procured the land so located and surveyed for the plaintiff as aforesaid and bounded as aforesaid to be granted by the Commonwealth of Kentucky to them the said John Darby and James Hughes by patent bearing date, . . . founded on the said warrant and survey and on the said pretended assignment of the plat and certificate, and signed by James Garrard, the governor, and sealed with the seal of the said Commonwealth of Kentucky and in all respects finally completed and issued to them the said Darby and Hughes and entered of record in the land office of Kentucky aforesaid. And the plaintiff says that the said land was patented to the said Darby and Hughes by the procurement and pretenses of the said James as aforesaid without the plaintiff's having ever in any manner authorized, contracted, or consented that the same should be patented in the name of any other person or persons whatsoever other than himself. And the plaintiff produceth here in court a copy of the said patent. . . ."

"And whereas, afterwards, on 13 March, 1806, at Alexandria, . . . a conversation was had and propositions for an accord and satisfaction were moved between the said James and the plaintiff concerning a compensation for the loss and a liquidation of the damages sustained by the plaintiff by reason of the misconduct and wrongdoing of the said James in the premises and of the vesting them, the said Darby and Hughes, with the legal title to the said land as aforesaid, and it was then and there agreed by the said James on his part, in consideration of the premises and of the just claims of the plaintiff for compensation and damages as aforesaid, that the said James should pay to the plaintiff in satisfaction of the same 700 Virginia currency, equal to $2,333 1/3, currency of the United States, to be paid in four equal quarterly installments, the first in three months, . . . each installment to be secured by a bond of the said James, and the plaintiff agreed to accept the said 700 by installments as aforesaid, in full satisfaction of his just claims as aforesaid, and upon the said installments being secured by the bonds of the said James as aforesaid to release and quitclaim to the said James all the plaintiff's

Page 11 U. S. 182

claims and demands whatsoever, for compensation, redress, or damages arising from the wrong doing and misconduct of the said James in the premises, and from the vesting the said Darby and Hughes with the legal title to the said land as aforesaid."

The count then states that the defendant promised to fulfill the agreement on his part and the plaintiff on his part.

"That the plaintiff is and always was ready and willing to perform his part if the defendant would perform his. That he afterwards required the defendant to perform his part, and offered to accept, and would have accepted of the defendant the 700 in installments as aforesaid, and secured by bonds as aforesaid, in full satisfaction of all the claims and demands of the plaintiff for compensation, redress and damages as aforesaid, and did then and there offer to perfect and execute, and would have perfected and executed to the said James a good and sufficient quitclaim and release to him, of all the plaintiffs claims and demands for compensation, redress or damages, arising from the misconduct and wrong doing of the said James in the premises, and from the vesting of the said Darby and Hughes, with the legal title to the said land as aforesaid, if he, the said James, would have secured by his bonds duly executed, the said 700l, &c. But the defendant refused to perform his part of the agreement, &c."

4. The 4th count stated that

"Whereas on 5 October, 1799, the defendant without any lawful authority to that effect, but for his own gain and advantage and to the great wrong and damage of the plaintiff, with intent to prevent the land hereinafter mentioned from being patented to the plaintiff, and to cause and procure the same to be patented to the defendant and one John Darby, wrongfully, injuriously, and willfully made and executed in the name of the plaintiff a certain other endorsement in writing upon a certain other plat and certificate of survey duly made for the plaintiff, on 28 November, 1796, the said survey having been so made in due execution of a certain other warrant duly issued in favor of the plaintiff, from the land office of Virginia on 26 September, 1783, . . . and in pursuance of a location and entry, . . . which last mentioned endorsement purported to be an assignment, . . . from the plaintiff to the said John

Page 11 U. S. 183

Darby and the defendant, for value received, . . . purporting to be subscribed. . . . And whereas the defendant had, on 5 April, 1800, in further pursuance of his said intent to prevent the land from being patented to the plaintiff and to cause it to be patented to the said Darby and the defendant, wrongfully and without authority, and under color of being attorney in fact for the plaintiff, caused the land to be patented to the said Darby and the defendant . . . -- and the plaintiff produceth here a copy of the patent, warrant, survey . . . -- and the plaintiff avers that he never authorized the defendant to make the said assignment, and that the defendant knew he had no such authority -- that it was made without the plaintiffs knowledge or consent -- that the plaintiff was, until the issuing of the patent to Darby and the defendant, entitled to have the land patented to himself -- by which wrong doing of the defendant the plaintiff had suffered great wrong and injury and was entitled to be compensated in damages by the defendant, and to be indemnified for being prevented from having the land patented to him, and for the same being patented to Darby and the defendant."

"And whereas afterwards, on 13 March, 1806, a conversation was had and propositions for a compromise were moved between the plaintiff and defendant touching the compensation and indemnification of the plaintiff, and the defendant then and there agreed in consideration of the just claims of the plaintiff to be compensated for the damage and injury arising from the misconduct of the defendant in the premises, and in consideration of the defendant's having procured a patent to be issued to him and Darby for the land, that the defendant would pay to the plaintiff another sum of 700 Virginia currency of the value, . . . which the plaintiff agreed to accept in satisfaction of his just claims to compensation arising from the causes and considerations last aforesaid, and the defendant in consideration of his said agreement, assumed and promised to the plaintiff that he, the defendant, would perform his part of the agreement. And the plaintiff in consideration of that promise agreed to accept the 700 in satisfaction, . . . as aforesaid and upon payment of the same or upon its being secured to be paid in four installments, . . . that he, the plaintiff, would quitclaim and release to the defendant all the plaintiff's claims and demands

Page 11 U. S. 184

and rights whatsoever to compensation for being prevented from having the land patented to him, and for and an account of the same being patented to the said Darby and the defendant -- and the plaintiff says that he was and hath ever since been willing and ready to perform, . . . and requested the defendant to perform, . . . and offered to accept . . . the 700 . . . in full satisfaction, . . . and offered to quitclaim, . . . all the plaintiffs claims for compensation, . . . if the defendant would pay, . . . but he refused. . . ."

The defendant, having prayed oyer of the agreement and the memorandum of which a profert was made in the first count, pleaded nonassumpsit to that count and so in like manner to each of the other counts separately, upon all of which pleas issues were joined.

2d. The defendant (without again praying oyer), for further plea to each of the counts severally, said that the promise alleged to be made by the defendant to the plaintiff, or any memorandum thereof, was not in writing, signed by the defendant or any other person by him thereunto lawfully authorized, and this he is ready to verify, &c.

3. The defendant, also without again praying oyer, for further plea to each of the counts severally said

"That after making the agreement and memorandum between the plaintiff and the said John Darby in the declaration mentioned, viz., on 29 August, 1799, Alexander D. Orr, and John Graham, two respectable men residing in the neighborhood of the lands in the said agreement mentioned, were mutually chosen by the plaintiff and the said John Darby to say and determine whether the said lands would sell for two thousand pounds or upwards, and the said Alexander D. Orr and John Graham afterwards, viz., on 29 August, 1799, did say and determine that the plaintiff's claim to a survey of 9,922 acres in the County of Washington, being the land in the said agreement and memorandum mentioned, would not sell for 2,000 Virginia money, and this he is ready to verify. . . . "

Page 11 U. S. 185

4. The defendant also, without again praying oyer, pleaded separately to each count, "that there was not as much land secured by the said location in the agreement mentioned, as would bring 2,000 or upwards, and this he is ready to verify. . . ." The plaintiff demurred generally to the second plea, to all the counts, and to the 3d and 4th pleas, to the 2d, 3d and 4th counts.

To the 3d and 4th pleas to the 1st count, there was a general replication and issue.

The court below adjudged all the demurrers in favor of the plaintiff.

The plaintiff then entered a nolle prosequi upon the first count of his declaration and waived all the issues joined thereon. Upon the issues of nonassumpsit to the 2d, 3d and 4th counts there was a verdict and judgment for the plaintiff.

After the jury had retired to consider of its verdict, it returned into court and requested the court to determine whether a verdict for the plaintiff would give to the defendant all the right and interest of the plaintiff and his heirs in the patent of land in the declaration mentioned, and the court instructed them that if the plaintiff should recover a judgment in this case, he would be thereby barred in equity from setting aside the patent issued to the defendant and the said John Darby in the declaration mentioned. To this instruction the defendant excepted, and brought his writ of error.

Page 11 U. S. 189



Official Supreme Court caselaw is only found in the print version of the United States Reports. Justia caselaw is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect current legal developments, verdicts or settlements. We make no warranties or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this site or information linked to from this site. Please check official sources.