Hyde & Gleises v. Booraem & Co. - 41 U.S. 169 (1842)


U.S. Supreme Court

Hyde & Gleises v. Booraem & Co., 41 U.S. 16 Pet. 169 169 (1842)

Hyde & Gleises v. Booraem & Company

41 U.S. (16 Pet.) 169

Syllabus

Louisiana. The defendants in error, merchants in New York, agreed with the plaintiffs in error, H. & G., merchants in New Orleans, that endorsed notes should be given by H. & G., for a certain sum, being the amount due by H. & G. to B. & Co., and other notes or drafts of H. & G., payable in New York, which endorsed notes were to be deposited in the hands of L., to be delivered to B. & Co., on their performing their agreement with H. & G.; part of which was to take up certain drafts and notes given by H. & G., and payable in New York. The notes, endorsed according to the agreement, were drawn and delivered to L. B. & Co. performed all their contract, excepting the payment of a draft for two thousand dollars, and a note for one thousand five hundred and sixty-eight dollars and seventy-four cents, which, from inability, they did not pay, and the same were returned to New Orleans, and were there paid, with damages and interest, by H. & G., at great loss and inconvenience. The notes deposited with L. amounted to upward of seven thousand dollars beyond the draft for two thousand dollars, and the notes for one thousand five hundred and sixty-eight dollars and seventy-four cents. B. & Co. filed a petition according to the Louisiana practice, praying for a decree by which the endorsed notes in the hands of L. should be delivered to them, equal to the balance due to them. The district judge gave a decree in favor of B. & Co., in conformity with the petition. Held that the decree was erroneous, and the court reversed the same, and ordered the case to be remanded, and the petition to be dismissed with costs by the Circuit Court of Louisiana.

The Supreme Court has no authority, as an appellate court, upon a writ of error, to revise the evidence in the court below in order to ascertain whether the judge rightly interpreted the evidence or drew right conclusions from it. That is the proper province of the jury, or of the judge himself, if the trial by jury is waived and it is submitted to his personal decision. The court can only reexamine the law, so far as he has pronounced it, upon a state of facts, and not merely upon the evidence of facts found in the record in the making of a special verdict, or an agreed case. If either party in the court below is dissatisfied with the ruling of the judge in a matter of law, that ruling should be brought before the Supreme Court by an appropriate exception in the nature of a bill of exceptions, and should not be mixed up with the supposed conclusions in matters of fact.

The contract between B. & Co. and H. & G. was what the French law, the basis of that of Louisiana, calls a commutative contract, involving mutual and reciprocal obligations, where the acts to be done on one side form the consideration for those to be done on the other.

Upon principles of general justice, if the acts are to be done at the same time, neither party to such a contract could claim a fulfillment thereof unless he had first performed or was ready to perform all the acts required on his own part.

When the entire fulfillment of the contract is contemplated as the basis of the arrangement, the contract, under the laws of Louisiana, is treated as indivisible, and

Page 41 U. S. 170

neither party can compel the other to a specific performance, unless he complies with it in toto.

Booraem & Company, merchants of New York, agreed with Hyde & Gleises, merchants of New Orleans, who were indebted to them, to give them an extension of time for the payment of the amount due by them, if they would give their notes, payable at subsequent periods, for a certain sum, the notes to be endorsed, and deposited with H. Locket, and to be delivered to them, on their having paid certain engagements, due in New York, the amount of which was included in the amount of the notes deposited in the hands of H. Locket. The notes were given and deposited in pursuance of this agreement, and Booraem & Co. performed all the matters contained in the agreement, excepting that they did not pay a draft for $2,000 and a note for $1,568.74, due and payable in New York; being unable to pay the same. The draft and note were returned to New Orleans, and Hyde & Gleises, at great inconvenience and loss, paid the same.

Booraem & Co., proceeding according to the practice in Louisiana, filed a petition in the district court, then exercising the powers of a circuit court of the United States, asking that the notes of Hyde & Gleises, in the hands of H. Locket, taking from the same a sufficient amount to repay to them, Hyde & Gleises, the amount of the $2,000 draft, and the note for $1,568.74, should, by a decree of the court, be ordered to be delivered to them. After a full hearing of the case, on the petition, answer and testimony, the district court gave a decree in favor of the petitioners, and the defendants prosecuted this writ of error. The case is fully stated in the opinion of the Court.

Page 41 U. S. 172



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