Moore v. United States,
196 U.S. 157 (1905)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Moore v. United States, 196 U.S. 157 (1905)

Moore v. United States

No. 71

Argued December 6, 1904

Decided January 3, 1905

196 U.S. 157


Usage may be resorted to in order to make definite what is uncertain, clear up what is doubtful, or annex incidents, but not to vary or contradict the terms of a contract.

Under contracts between a San Francisco coal dealer and the United States for the delivery of coal at Honolulu "at wharf" or "on wharf as customary," the customs referred to held to be those of Honolulu and not of San

Page 196 U. S. 158

Francisco, and that the United States, in the absence of any provision to the contrary, could not be held liable for the demurrage paid by the shipper to the owners of vessels carrying the coal for delay in discharging their cargoes on account of the crowded condition of the harbor.

In engagements to furnish goods to a certain amount the quantity specified governs. Words like "about" and "more or less" are only for the purpose of providing against accidental and not material variations.

Under the contract in this case for delivery of "about" 5,000 tons of coal the United States cannot refuse to accept more than 4,634 tons, but is liable for the difference in value on 366 tons tendered and acceptance refused.

The facts are stated in the opinion.

Page 196 U. S. 162

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