Grant v. Naylor - 8 U.S. 224 (1808)
U.S. Supreme Court
Grant v. Naylor, 8 U.S. 4 Cranch 224 224 (1808)
Grant v. Naylor
8 U.S. (4 Cranch) 224
A letter of credit addressed by mistake to John and Joseph Naylor and delivered to John and Jeremiah Naylor will not support an action by John and Jeremiah for goods furnished by them to the bearer upon the faith of the letter of credit. It is not a written contract between the plaintiffs and the defendants, and parol proof cannot be admitted to make it such. It is not
a case of ambiguity or of fraud or of mistake on the part of the plaintiffs.
Error to the Circuit Court for the District of Maryland in an action of assumpsit brought by John and Jeremiah Naylor against Daniel Grant.
The verdict and judgment below were for the plaintiffs on the second count of the declaration, which stated in substance that it was agreed between the plaintiffs and defendant that if the plaintiffs would at the request of the defendant sell and deliver to a John Hackett and Alexander Grant "divers goods, wares and merchandises,"
he, the defendant, in consideration of the same, promised to pay the plaintiff as much money as they reasonably deserved to have therefor in case Hackett and Grant did not pay for them, and that, in consideration of the defendant's promise and at his request, they sold and delivered to Hackett and Grant "divers goods, wares and merchandises," and reasonably deserved to have therefor £2,168 sterling, of which the defendant and Hackett and Grant had notice, and which Hackett and Grant did not pay, but refused, and are insolvent, of all which the defendant had notice, and in consideration of the premises promised to pay the plaintiffs the said sum of £2,168 sterling, of the value, &c., which he has failed to do.
Upon the issue of nonassumpsit, the plaintiffs read in evidence a letter, admitted to be signed by and with the name of the defendant, and directed "To Messrs. John and Joseph Naylor and Company," in the following words:
"Baltimore, 6 April, 1795"
"By the recommendation of Mr. Travis, I take the liberty to address you by my son Alexander, who visits England with a view of establishing connections in the commercial line there in the different manufactories and others. He is concerned with Mr. John Hackett, of this place, under the firm of Hackett & Grant. For their plan I refer to themselves. Have therefore only to add that I will guarantee their engagements should you think it necessary, for any transaction they may have with your house."
The plaintiffs also produced and offered to read in evidence a commission (with interrogatories, and an exhibit and depositions) directed to two persons, in the usual form, commanding them to take the examination of the witnesses in writing upon the interrogatories, and to send them to the court closed up and under the seals of any two or one of them, and requiring them to take the
oath annexed to the commission, but not directing before whom or in what manner the oath should be taken.
The depositions under this commission went to prove that there was no commercial house at Wakefield (the town where the plaintiffs lived) under the name of John & Joseph Naylor & Company. That the firm of the plaintiffs was John & Jeremiah Naylor & Company, and that the Mr. Travis mentioned in the letter was the agent of the plaintiffs. That the letter was in fact intended for that house, and was delivered to it by Alexander Grant, of the house of Hackett & Grant, who obtained goods upon the credit of it and who became insolvent.
To that reading of this commission and depositions the defendant objected, contending that the commission was illegally and defectively executed, but the court below overruled the objection and suffered them to be read.
The defendant then prayed the court to instruct the jury that upon this evidence, the plaintiffs were not entitled to recover upon either count in the declaration, but the court refused, and instructed the jury that the evidence was proper and legal to support the issue on the part of the plaintiffs, and sufficient in law for that purpose if by the jury believed to be true and if they should believe that the letter was intended to be addressed and was addressed by the defendant to the plaintiffs.
To which opinions of the court the defendant excepted, and brought his writ of error.