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WESTERN UNION TELEGRAPH COMPANY v. BROWN

May 17, 1920

WESTERN UNION TELEGRAPH COMPANY
v.
BROWN, EXECUTOR OF LANGE, ET AL.



CERTIORARI TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT

White, McKenna, Holmes, Day, Van Devanter, Pitney, McReynolds, Brandeis, Clarke

Author: Day

[ 253 U.S. Page 103]

 MR. JUSTICE DAY delivered the opinion of the court.

This is an action by Brown, executor of Lange, and Hastings to recover damages from the Western Union

[ 253 U.S. Page 104]

     Telegraph Company for failure to deliver a message sent by Hastings and Lange to the Lyon County Bank, Yerington, Nevada. A judgment was recovered against the Telegraph Company in the District Court, which was affirmed in the Circuit Court Of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. 248 Fed. Rep. 656. The case is here upon writ of certiorari.

Upon stipulation the case was tried in the District Court without a jury, and the court made findings from which it appears: On March 16, 1907, W. C. Pitt and W. T. Campbell entered into a contract with Hastings and Lange for the sale of 625,000 shares of the capital stock of the Kennedy Consolidated Gold Mining Company. In this contract it was stipulated that Pitt and Campbell agreed to sell and deliver to Hastings and Lange, who agreed to buy, take, and receive from them 625,000 shares of the Kennedy Consolidated Gold Mining Company, upon the following terms and conditions: First. The total price to be paid for the shares of stock to be $75,000 in gold coin of the United States payable $7,500 on the execution of the agreement; $11,250 on or before the first day of May, 1907; and the like sum on or before the 5th of July, 1907, the 5th of September, 1907, the 5th of November, 1907 the 5th of January, 1908, and the 5th of March, 1908. It was agreed that immediately upon payment of the first-named sum, Pitt and Campbell would deposit in escrow in and with the Lyon County Bank, of Yerington, Nevada, certificates of stock indorsed in blank representing in the aggregate 625,000 shares of the capital stock of the Mining Company, and would thereupon enter into an escrow agreement with Hastings and Lange and the bank, under which agreement the bank should hold the shares of stock to be delivered to Hastings and Lange upon the payment by them of the final sum provided for, and the bank was constituted the agent of Pitt and Campbell for the purpose of receiving the payments

[ 253 U.S. Page 105]

     under the agreement, and it was further agreed that in event of default by Hastings and Lange the bank should be authorized under the terms of such deposit in escrow, to deliver all the shares of stock, so deposited with it, to Pitt and Campbell, and all payments theretofore made by Hastings and Lange should be forfeited to Pitt and Campbell, and that thereupon all rights of each of the parties should forever cease and terminate. Hastings and Lange paid to Pitt and Campbell the initial sum of $7,500, and Pitt and Campbell deposited in escrow with the Lyon County Bank certificates of stock representing 625,000 shares of the stock of the Mining Company properly indorsed, and the bank received said certificates in escrow and held the same in accordance with the contract. After the execution of the contract Hastings and Lange arranged with the bank to treat drafts that they might send it in partial payment as gold coin, and to pay the amount of such drafts in gold coin to Pitt and Campbell under said contract. That, for the purpose of making the payment, mentioned in the contract, which became due on or before May 1, 1907, Hastings and Lange on April 27, 1907, sent by mail from Oakland, California, to the Lyon County Bank, at Yerington, Nevada, a draft for the sum of $11,250 United States gold coin, payable to the order of the bank; that the draft was received by the bank at Yerington, Nevada, on April 30, 1907, some time between 8:30 A.M., the time the bank opened for business, and 9 o'clock A.M., of that day; that on April 29, 1907, before the message, hereinafter mentioned, was delivered to the Telegraph Company, Hastings and Lange were informed and believed that the stock of the Mining Company was of little or no value, and, upon obtaining such information, they determined to make no further payments on their contract with Pitt and Campbell, and to abandon their rights in and to said stock, and to withdraw from the transaction with Pitt and Campbell. It is further found

[ 253 U.S. Page 106]

     that on the evening of April 29, 1907, plaintiffs called at the office of the defendant in Oakland, California, and requested the agent in charge to telegraph the Lyon County Bank at Yerington, Nevada, as follows:

"Oakland, April 29, ...


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