Fenemore v. United States
3 U.S. 357 (1797)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Fenemore v. United States, 3 U.S. 3 Dall. 357 357 (1797)

Fenemore v. United States

3 U.S. (3 Dall.) 357

ERROR TO THE CIRCUIT COURT FOR

THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY

Syllabus

A certificate stating a debt to be due by the United States to one who had fraudulently claimed the same was issued to him by the commissioners for settling continental claims, and this certificate was afterwards funded by him, and interest on the same was paid to him.

The United States instituted a suit to recover the amount of the certificate and the interest paid by it. Held that it was entitled to recover the same in an action of assumpsit, it having by the suit affirmed the said certificate.

On the return of the record, it appeared that a declaration in case had been filed in this action containing three counts, the first and second of which were special counts for a fraud and deceit and the third was a general count for money had and received by the defendant to the use of the plaintiff. The first count charged the defendant with an express assumpsit that in consideration that the commissioner for settling continental accounts would issue a certificate for $4,273 and 49 ninetieths, he promised his account against the United States was just for that sum, and exhibited certain vouchers to support it, that the account ought to be allowed, and that the vouchers were true and lawful. It averred that confiding in the said promises, the United States, by its said commissioner, did issue the said certificate. And it assigned as a breach of the said promises that the defendant did not regard the same, but craftily deceived the United States in this, that the said certificate ought not to have been issued and delivered, that the account was not, nor was any part of it, for a just debt, but was deceitful, and that the account and vouchers were not true and lawful, whereby the United States had been greatly deceived.

The second count stated that whereas the United States had before that time issued and delivered to the defendant the said certificate and had accepted and received from him as lawful vouchers for the issuing and delivery thereof, the account aforesaid, together with certain paper writings in

Page 3 U. S. 358

the declaration set forth, in consideration thereof he undertook and faithfully promised that the said account was a just and true account and that the sum mentioned in it was lawfully due from the United States and ought to be so certified, and that the said certain paper writings, then and there exhibited as further vouchers for issuing the said certificate, were regular and lawful vouchers. Nevertheless, the defendant did not regard his said last-mentioned promises, inasmuch as the said account was not true, nor was any part thereof due, nor were the said paper writings lawful vouchers, by means whereof the United States was by him deceived and greatly injured.

The third count having stated an assumpsit in the usual form, for $8,000 received to the plaintiff's use, concluded that the defendant not regarding his several promises, for making payment thereof, had not paid the said sum of money, but refused and still refuses to pay the same to the damage of the United States of $8,000. The defendant pleaded nonassumpsit, whereupon issue was joined, and on the trial of the cause, the jury found a special verdict of the following tenor:

"The jury finds that the commissioner named in the first and second counts was the lawful officer of the United States for transacting the business therein mentioned, and that certain regulations were made by Congress in relation thereto on 20 February, 1782, and 3 June, 1784, to which the jury refers. That the defendant, on 2 August, 1784, fraudulently exhibited an account, claiming a balance of

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