Adriatic Fire Ins. Co. v. Treadwell,
108 U.S. 361 (1883)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Adriatic Fire Ins. Co. v. Treadwell, 108 U.S. 361 (1883)

Adriatic Fire Insurance Company v. Treadwell

Decided April 30, 1883

108 U.S. 361


Several insurance companies having policies on the same property agreed together to defend against claims for insurance by a written instrument of which the following is the material part: the said companies will unite in resisting the claim made upon said policies, and on each thereof, and in the defense of any and all suits and legal proceedings that have been or may be instituted against any of said companies upon any of said policies, and will, when and as required by the committee hereinafter mentioned, contribute to and pay the costs, fees, and expenses of said suits and proceedings pro rata -- that is to say each company shall pay such proportion of said costs, fees, and expenses as the amount insured by said company shall bear to the whole amount insured on said property by all the companies subscribing to this agreement. The management and conduct of said resistance to said claims and defense of said suits and proceedings shall be and is fully entrusted to and devolved upon a committee to be composed of W. A. Brazier and James R. Lott, of the City of New York, Charles W. Sproat, of the City of Boston, L. S. Jordan, of the City of Boston, which committee shall have full power and authority to employ counsel and attorneys to appear for said companies and each thereof, and defend said suits and legal proceedings, and to employ other persons for other services relative thereto, and to assess upon and demand and receive from such companies, from time to time, as such committee shall deem proper, such sum or sums of money for the compensation of such counsel and attorneys, and such other persons, and all other expenses of such defense of said suits as said committee shall deem necessary and expedient, such assessment upon and payment by each of said companies to be pro rata, as above mentioned. The committee named in the agreement communicated it to the defendant in error, and employed him as counsel in resisting the suits. On a suit for professional service brought by him against the companies jointly, held that any contract there may have been between him and the companies was several, not joint.

Action by defendant in error, who was plaintiff below, to recover $15,000 for professional services claimed to have been rendered to the plaintiffs in error jointly. The defense was that the contract was several. The agreement between the companies

Page 108 U. S. 362

on which the alleged joint contract was founded appears in the opinion of the Court. The court below held the contract to be joint and gave judgment for the plaintiff below for $8,000. The defendants below sued out their writ of error and brought the case here.

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