Troy Laundry Machinery Co. v. Dolph
138 U.S. 617 (1891)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Troy Laundry Machinery Co. v. Dolph, 138 U.S. 617 (1891)

Troy Laundry Machinery Company v. Dolph

No. 149

Argued January 13-14, 1891

Decided March 2, 1891

138 U.S. 617

Syllabus

Dolph contracted to sell to the plaintiff in error standard Dolph washers at $110 a machine, and the company contracted to take at least 50 machines a year at that price, the contract to last for five years. There was a further clause by which Dolph was to have the option of manufacturing for the company any other machines sold by him at such price as might be bid for them in open competition. The company at the expiration of a year threw up the contract and repudiated its obligations, and Dolph sued to enforce them. Held that the principal object of the contract was the sale and purchase of the Dolph machines; that the sale and purchase of the other machines were subordinate to it, and that the court should have instructed the jury that, as to the latter, there could be none other than a recovery of nominal damages.

In 1882, the parties hereto entered into the following contract:

"This agreement made this third day of January, 1882, between A. M. Dolph, of Cincinnati, O., of the first part, and the Troy Laundry Machinery Company, Limited, of Troy, N.Y., party of the second part, witnesseth:"

"1st. That the said A. M. Dolph, party of the first part, in consideration of the covenants hereinafter named, made, and to be kept, shall furnish, crated or packed for shipment, delivered at depot in Cincinnati, O., to the order of said Troy Laundry Machine Company, Limited, and within a reasonable time after such order is received, certain washing machines of standard size of the style heretofore manufactured by the said A. M. Dolph as the hydraulic washer, and known and designated as the Standard Dolph washer at the price of one hundred and ten dollars (110) each, which shall be designated as the manufacturer's price for said Standard Dolph washer."

"2d. That the said Troy Laundry Machine, Limited, party of the second part, in consideration of the covenants herein made and to be kept, agree to pay to the said A. M.

Page 138 U. S. 618

Dolph the sum of one hundred and ten dollars ($110.00) each for said Standard Dolph washer delivered as before mentioned, and to bind themselves herein and agree to take at least fifty (50) of said Standard Dolph washers each year."

"3d. That the said A. M. Dolph shall have the refusal or option of manufacturing any and all washing machines sold by the said A. M. Dolph and said Troy Laundry Machinery Company, Limited, or for them through their agents at the price of one hundred and ten dollars ($110.00) each for the said Standard Dolph washer and at such price for other washing machines as may be bid for them in open competition for equal quality of goods by any responsible manufacturers other than said Dolph, and these prices shall constitute and be designated as the manufacturer's prices for these machines."

"4th. That the selling price of the said Standard Dolph washer is hereby fixed at two hundred dollars ($200.00) each, and that the selling price of washing machines that may be sold by either party hereunto other than the Standard Dolph washer shall be fixed at a price the same in proportion to the designated manufacturer's price thereof as the selling price of the Standard Dolph washer is to its manufacturer's price, provided that the selling price of any of the aforesaid washing machines may be changed by the mutual consent of the parties hereto."

"5th. That the said A. M. Dolph and the said Troy Laundry Machinery Company, Limited, do hereby agree together to equally divide between them, the said parties, the entire profits arising from the combined sales made by both parties or for them through their agents of any and all washing machines, and this profit shall be in all cases the entire margin between the designated manufacturer's price and the fixed selling price at the time the sale is made, provided that a discount or commission of twenty percent of the selling price may be allowed by either party to their regular published agents other than a paid employee on sales actually made by said agent, which discount may be deducted from the profits before a division of the same is made."

"6th. Each party to this agreement shall furnish to the

Page 138 U. S. 619

other party annually a sworn statement of the number of each hind of washing machines sold by them; also the profits made above manufacturer's price on sales of washing machines other than the Standard Dolph washer, and the number of each kind of washing machine sold by their agents."

"7th. That the party of the second part agrees to pay to the party of the first part for all the goods ordered and delivered according to articles one and two to this agreement within four months after the delivery of said goods."

"8th. That at the close of each year, a division of profits shall be made according to articles five and six of this agreement, and any balance found to be due to either party shall be paid to that party within the first two months of the year following."

"9th. That on all washing machines furnished to the said Troy Laundry Machinery Company, Limited, shall be fixed a plate inscribed with the name and place of business of the said company."

"10th. This agreement shall be in force for the term of five years next ensuing."

"In witness whereof the parties hereunto have set their hand and seal the day and year first herein written."

"A. M. DOLPH [SEAL]"

"DELAVAN PECK, Pres't"

"CHARLES ANGUS, Sec'y"

"[Corporate Seal of the Company]"

In February, 1884, Dolph, the defendant in error, commenced his action in the Circuit Court of the United States for the Northern District of New York, alleging breach of this contract by the defendant, now the plaintiff in error, and claiming damages in the sum of thirty thousand dollars. Trial being had, resulted in a verdict, March 26, 1886, in favor of plaintiff, for sixteen thousand dollars. That verdict having been set aside, 28 F. 553, a new trial was had, which resulted in a verdict, March 26, 1887, in favor of plaintiff, for the sum of seven thousand two hundred and eight dollars. Judgment was entered on that verdict, of which the defendant

Page 138 U. S. 620

complains in this Court by proper proceedings in error, and asks a reversal.

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