Washington, A. & G. Steam Packet Co. v. Sickles
65 U.S. 333

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U.S. Supreme Court

Washington, A. & G. Steam Packet Co. v. Sickles, 65 U.S. 24 How. 333 333 (1860)

Washington, Alexandria & Georgetown Steam Packet Co. v. Sickles

65 U.S. (24 How.) 333

Syllabus

Docket entries in the courts of the District of Columbia, as in Maryland, stand in the place of, and perhaps are, the record, and receive all the consideration that is yielded to the formal record in other states.

The record of a former suit between the parties, in which the declaration consisted of a special count, and the common money counts, and where there was a general verdict on the entire declaration, cannot be given in evidence as an estoppel in a second suit founded on the special count, for the verdict may have been rendered on the common counts.

This rule is not varied by the circumstance that after the verdict was rendered the court directed judgment to be entered for the plaintiffs on the first count in the declaration, being the special count.

The authorities upon the doctrine of estoppel examined.

Page 65 U. S. 334

These two cases related to the same subject matter, and were argued together. The first case was an action brought by Sickles and Cook for their share of the earnings of the steam packet company by the use of their cut-off from March 13, 1846, to October 19, 1846; the second for the same earnings from October 13, 1846, up to December 26, 1855.

The case was before this Court at a preceding term, viz., December term, 1850, and is reported in 51 U. S. 10 How. 419. The suit there was for earnings from 20th August, 1844, to March, 1846.

When the mandate went down, a new trial was had, the judgment of the court below having been reversed by this Court, which took place at October term, 1855. The plaintiffs below, Sickles and Cook, had in the meantime amended their pleadings according to the evidence as given on the first trial by making the declaration consist of a special count and the common money counts. The record entries were as follows, relative to this trial in 1855:

Narr. Non assumpsit and issue.

November 22. July sworn; verdict for plaintiffs; damages $1,695.79, with interest from March 16, 1846; verdict rendered 7th December.

December 14. Judgment for plaintiffs on the first count in the declaration.

December 14, 1855. Appeal bond, writ of error, citation &c.

The writ of error thus sued out was not prosecuted, and the case was docketed and dismissed, under the rule, with costs, on December 19, 1856. Of course this was done at the instance of the counsel for Sickles and Cook.

On the 26th of December, 1855, the suits now in question were brought by Sickles and Cook. The declaration consisted of two special counts and the common money counts, which were afterward abandoned, and the case went to trial on the two special counts. It resulted in a verdict for the plaintiffs for $16,388.25.

Page 65 U. S. 335

On the trial of each of the two last-mentioned cases in the court below, the plaintiffs contended that by the verdict and judgment rendered in the case tried in 1855, between said plaintiffs and defendant, the existence of the contract as set forth in the two first counts of their declarations in said causes, which was identical with that set forth in the declaration in said first-mentioned cause, and the rate of saving ascertained by said experiments, were judicially settled between said plaintiffs and defendant; and that in all subsequent suits between the same parties on said contract, the said defendant was estopped to deny the same, or the rate of saving fixed by the experiment provided for by said contract, and the court below so ruled. The defendant excepted to the ruling of the court and presented objections in various forms by different exceptions.

The reader will perceive that the principal question brought before this Court by the bills of exception was that relating to the doctrine of estoppel, when taken in connection with the order or the circuit court passed on the 14th December, 1855, ordering judgment to be entered on the first count of the declaration.

Page 65 U. S. 340

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