Walker v. Johnson
96 U.S. 424 (1877)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Walker v. Johnson, 96 U.S. 424 (1877)

Walker v. Johnson

96 U.S. 424

Syllabus

1. A parol contract for the delivery of materials is not void under the statute of frauds unless it appears affirmatively that it was not to be performed within a year. If performance by the promisor can be required by the promisee within a year, the contract is valid.

2. A subsequent verbal agreement varying the manner of delivering them is binding.

3. The comments of the judge in his charge to the jury as to the circumstances under which the defendant might be entitled to damages against the plaintiff cannot be a ground of error when there was no such issue and when the defendant could not have been thereby prejudiced.

4. The court is not bound, at the request of counsel, to give as instructions philosophical remarks copied from textbooks, however wise or true they may be in the abstract or however high the reputation of the authors.

On the twenty-first day of July, 1869, Edwin I. Sherburne, Edwin Walker, and Charles B. Farwell entered into a written contract with the Canal Commissioners of the State of Illinois for the construction of a lock and dam in the Illinois River near the City of Henry, in which they agreed to commence the work on or before the first day of August, 1869, and complete it by the first day of September, 1871.

Page 96 U. S. 425

Sherburne shortly after assigned his interest in this contract to James K. Lake, and Lake, Farwell, and Walker assigned the same, with the approval of the commissioners, to Willard Johnson, plaintiff below. But while Farwell, Lake, and Walker were the contractors, they made an agreement between themselves in writing by which, among other things, Walker was

"to furnish all the stone necessary for the construction of the lock and dam, to be by him delivered on board of canal boats at Henry, as the same might be required in the progress of the work, to be of the description required for said work,"

and the prices that he was to receive for the various kinds of stone so delivered were settled. It is alleged by Johnson that after the contract with the commissioners had been assigned to him, Walker agreed with him to furnish the stone for the work in the same manner and on the same terms as in this contract with his former partners. And that, by reason of his failure to do so, he, the plaintiff, was greatly damaged, and for that he brought this action. A verdict and judgment for $6,500 were rendered against defendant Walker, to which he prosecutes the present writ of error.

The errors assigned relate exclusively to exceptions taken to the charge of the judge, and to his refusal to charge as requested by the defendant. They are fully stated in the opinion of the Court.

Page 96 U. S. 426

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