Halliday v. Hamilton - 78 U.S. 560 (1870)
U.S. Supreme Court
Halliday v. Hamilton, 78 U.S. 11 Wall. 560 560 (1870)
Halliday v. Hamilton
78 U.S. (11 Wall.) 560
A., in St. Louis, having a standing agreement with B. & Co., in New Orleans, to ship produce to them, drawing against the shipments -- the balance of any draft on one shipment not discharged by its proceeds, to be paid
from the proceeds of any other shipment -- bought of C., residing at Cairo, on the Mississippi, a hundred miles and more below St Louis, a specific number of sacks of corn, then lying at a landing on the river somewhat above Cairo, though much below St. Louis, and received an order for its delivery. He did not pay for it, though the transaction was impliedly one for cash. A. delivered his order to the agents of a steamer at St. Louis, then about to go down the river to New Orleans. These gave to him a regular bill of lading, agreeing to deliver the specified number of sacks of corn to B. & Co., in New Orleans. On the same day, A. drew his bill of exchange on B. & Co., in New Orleans, telling them to charge the draft to the account of this specific shipment; and attaching to his bill of exchange, the bill of lading thus received, sold the draft in the market. Being forwarded, it was paid at maturity by B. & Co., in New Orleans; they having had no notice of any difficulty. They were at the time in advance to A. on account of other shipments. The steamer set off on her voyage, and stopping at
the place where the sacks of corn were, took them on board. Proceeding further on her voyage she came to Cairo, C.'s residence. C., having learned that A. had failed, had not paid for the corn, and was insolvent, issued an attachment, and on the arrival of the steamer seized the corn and took it off the boat. On suit brought by B. & Co., for damages, held that after the boat took the corn on board, a transfer of the property to B. & Co. was effected, and that C. had made himself liable for his act of seizure and asportation.
In 1867, Sherwood, Karns & Co., commission merchants of St. Louis, had a standing agreement with Hamilton & Dunnica, of New Orleans, to ship produce to them and to draw drafts on the shipments, which they were to accept and pay. In case the proceeds of any shipment left a balance due to Hamilton & Dunnica, they were to apply the surplus of any other shipment in payment of it. At this time Cole Brothers were the correspondents in St. Louis of Hamilton & Dunnica, and were advertised to make advances on shipments made to them, and often during the season of 1867 made advances upon shipments to this house by Sherwood, Karns & Co. In this condition of things the transaction occurred which was the subject of this controversy.
On the 31st of August, 1867, Sherwood, Karns & Co. purchased of Halliday Brothers, of Cairo, Illinois, through their agent (one Booth) in St. Louis, 1250 sacks of corn, lying at Price's Landing on the Mississippi River, a hundred and fifty miles, more or less, below St. Louis, and a short distance above Cairo, and obtained an order for the delivery of the corn. This order they handed over to the agent of the steamboat Bee, then at her wharf in St. Louis, who issued a regular bill of lading to deliver the corn to Hamilton & Dunnica at New Orleans. On the same day Sherwood, Karns & Co. drew their bill of exchange for $2500 on Hamilton & Dunnica, and in it told them to charge the same to account of this specific shipment. At this time, there was a large balance due Hamilton & Dunnica on account of previous shipments of produce. This bill of exchange was
taken to Cole Brothers for discount, and sold, endorsed, and delivered to them with the bill of lading attached, by Sherwood, Karns & Co., to whom they paid the proceeds. Shortly after this, Cole Brothers deposited the bill of exchange thus accompanied by the bill of lading with a banking house in St. Louis, who sent them forward, and Hamilton & Dunnica accepted the bill of exchange without notice of any difficulty in the matter, and paid it at maturity. In a day or two after the bill of lading was issued and transferred to Cole Brothers, the steamboat Bee proceeded on her voyage to New Orleans as far as Price's Landing, and, having obtained the corn, stopped at Cairo, arriving there September 5. On the day, however, before she got there, Booth, the agent at St. Louis of Halliday Brothers, telegraphing to them that Sherwood, Karns & Co. had failed, had not paid for the corn, and had no effects in St. Louis, directed them "to stop the delivery of the corn." Thereupon Halliday Brothers got an attachment, and upon the arrival of the steamer at Cairo, the corn was levied on and taken from the possession of the boat by virtue of the same. Halliday Brothers stated to their agent, Booth, his impression was that "they attached the corn." These attachment proceedings resulted in the sale of the corn and the payment of the net proceeds by the marshal to Halliday Brothers. Hamilton & Dunnica hereupon brought trespass against Halliday Brothers. The court below charged generally in favor of the plaintiffs, and refusing to charge as the defendant asked it to do, that the defendants were not liable in this action unless they directed the officer to seize the corn, or personally interfered with or took control of it. The jury found for the plaintiff $3,436. Judgment accordingly.