Hinchman v. Lincoln,
124 U.S. 38 (1888)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Hinchman v. Lincoln, 124 U.S. 38 (1888)

Hinchman v. Lincoln

Argued November 18, 21, 1881

Decided January 9, 1888

124 U.S. 38


In general, it is for the jury to determine whether, under all the circumstances, the acts which a buyer does or forbears to do amount to a receipt

Where the facts in relation to a contract of sale alleged to be within the statute of frauds are not in dispute, it belongs to the court to determine their legal effect.

A court may withhold from the jury facts relating to a contract of sale alleged to be within the statute of frauds when they are not such as can in law warrant the finding of an acceptance, and this rule extends to cases where, though there may be a scintilla of evidence tending to show an acceptance, the court would still feel bound to set aside a verdict which finds an acceptance on that evidence.

In order to take an alleged contract of sale out of the operation of the statute of frauds, there must be acts of such a character as to place the property unequivocally within the power and under the exclusive dominion of the buyer, as absolute owner, discharged of all lien for the price. Where, by the terms of the contract, a sale is to be for cash, or any other condition precedent to the buyer's acquiring title in the goods be imposed, or the goods be at the time of the alleged receipt not fitted for delivery according to the contract, or anything remain to be done by the

Page 124 U. S. 39

seller to perfect the delivery, such fact will be generally conclusive that there was no receipt by the buyer.

"The receipt and acceptance by the vendee under a verbal agreement, otherwise void by the statute of frauds, may be complete although the terms of the contract are in dispute."

In this case, on the facts recited in the opinion of the Court, the Court held (1) that there was sufficient evidence of a verbal agreement between the parties for the sale of the securities at the price named; (2) that the delivery of the property by the plaintiff was net such a delivery of it to the defendant as to amount to a receipt and acceptance of it by him, satisfying the statute of frauds, and (3) that that inchoate and complete delivery was not made perfect by the subsequent acts of the parties.

At law, in contract, to recover the value of certain securities alleged to have been sold by the plaintiff to the defendant. Judgment for plaintiff. Defendant sued out this writ of error. The case is stated in the opinion of the Court.

Page 124 U. S. 40

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