Sun Printing & Publishing Ass'n v. Moore
183 U.S. 642 (1902)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Sun Printing & Publishing Ass'n v. Moore, 183 U.S. 642 (1902)

Sun Printing and Publishing Association v. Moore

No. 49

Argued October 24, 1901

Decided January 13, 1902

183 U.S. 642

Syllabus

The trustees of The Sun Association are to be charged with knowledge of the extent of the power usually exerted by its managing editor, and must be held to have acquiesced in the possession by him of such authority, even though they had not expressly delegated it to him, and he is held to have been vested with such power.

An authority to charter a yacht for the purpose of collecting news was clearly within the corporate powers of the association.

It is impossible to assume in this case that the relation of The Sun Association to the hiring of the yacht was simply that of a security for Lord as a hirer of the yacht on his personal account, and the two papers in evidence are in legal effect but one contract, and must be interpreted together.

As the trustees of The Sun Association must be presumed to have exercised a supervision over the business of the corporation, they are to be charged

Page 183 U. S. 643

with knowledge of the extent of the power usually exercised by its managing editor.

The fixing of the value of the vessel in the contract can have but one meaning -- that the value agreed on was to be paid in case of default in returning.

The decision of the court below that the sum due in consequence of a default in the return of the ship was not to be diminished by the amount of the hire which had been paid at the inception of the contract was correct.

The naming of a stipulated sum to be paid for the nonperformance of a covenant, is conclusive upon the parties in the absence of fraud or mutual mistake.

Parties may, in a case where the damages are of an uncertain nature, estimate and agree upon the measure of damages which may be sustained from the breach of an agreement.

The law does not limit an owner of property from affixing his own estimate of its value upon a sale thereof.

As the stipulation for value in this case was binding upon the parties, the court rightly refused to consider evidence tending to show that the admitted value was excessive.

The yacht Kanapaha, the property of the respondent Moore, was let on April 1, 1898, for the term of two months, by a charter party in which Chester S. Lord was recited to be the hirer, but which was signed by him as follows: "Chester S. Lord, for The Sun Printing & Publishing Association." At the time, Mr. Lord was, and for many years prior thereto had been, the managing editor of the Sun newspaper, and had special charge of the collection of news for the Sun Printing & Publishing Association, the publisher of the newspaper aforesaid. We shall hereafter speak of this corporation as the Sun Association, and of the newspaper as the Sun.

In the body of the charter party. the hirer agreed to furnish security, and contemporaneously with the execution of the contract, a paper was signed which is described in the body thereof as the "understanding or agreement of suretyship" required by the charter party. This paper recited on its face that it was made by "the Sun Printing & Publishing Association," and it also was signed by Lord exactly as he had signed the charter party. Before the time fixed in the charter party had expired -- that is to say, about the middle of May, 1898 -- a second charter party and a second agreement of suretyship were executed.

Page 183 U. S. 644

These agreements were substantially identical with the previous ones, except they provided for a new term to begin at the expiration of the previous one and to continue for four months thereafter, that is, up to October 1, 1898.

On the execution of the first papers, the yacht was delivered to the Sun Association, was by it immediately manned, equipped, and provisioned, and one or more of its reporters were placed on board with authority to direct the movements of the vessel, and she was sent to Cuban waters, to be used as a dispatch boat for the purpose of gathering news concerning the events connected with the hostilities between the United States and Spain.

Early in September, 1898, the yacht was wrecked, and became a total loss. For a breach of an alleged covenant to return the vessel, asserted to be contained in the charter party, this libel in personam was filed against the Sun Association, and the damages were averred to be the value of the vessel, which it was alleged was fixed by the charter party at the sum of $75,000. The district court held that the writings were contracts of the Sun Association through Lord, its authorized agent, and were virtually one agreement; that by them, that corporation was responsible for the nonreturn of the ship, whether or not the vessel had been lost by the fault of its agents or employees, and that there was a liability to pay the value of the vessel as fixed by the charter. Construing the two writings as a whole, this value, it was held, was subject to be diminished by the extent of the charter hire, paid when the charter party was executed. A judgment was entered for the sum of $65,000, with interests and costs. 95 F. 485. On appeal, the circuit court of appeals coincided with the district court, except it disapproved the conclusion that the value of the vessel should be reduced by the sum of the charter hire. The decree of the district court was reversed, and the cause remanded with instructions to enter a decree for $75,000, with interest and costs. 101 F. 591. The case was then brought here by certiorari.

Page 183 U. S. 645

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