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CHATEAUGAY ORE & IRON CO. V. BLAKE, 144 U. S. 476 (1892)

U.S. Supreme Court

Chateaugay Ore & Iron Co. v. Blake, 144 U.S. 476 (1892)

Chateaugay Ore and Iron Company v. Blake

No. 189

Argued March 4, 7, 1892

Decided April 11, 1892

144 U.S. 476


B. contracted with C. to construct and put up for him a crushing plant, with a guaranteed capacity of 600 tons daily, and C. agreed to pay therefor $25,000, one-half on presentation of the bills of lading and the remainder when the machinery should be successfully running. The machine was completed and put in operation October 1. The agreed payment of $12,500 was made on delivery, and $7500 in three payments in the course of a month. B. sent a man to superintend the putting up of the machine and to watch its working. Under his directions, a book was kept in which were recorded either by himself or under his directions by C.'s foreman the daily workings of the machine between October 18 and November 7, which account was copied by B.'s man and sent to B. The working from November 7 to the following March was also kept in the same way. In an action by B. against C. to recover the remainder of the contract price,


(1) That B.'S man could use these books in his examination in chief to assist him in testifying as to the actual working of the machines from October 18 to November 7.

(2) That, the defendant not having introduced the books, which were in his possession, in his evidence in reply to the plaintiffs evidence in chief, could not, in rebuttal, ask a witness to examine them and state the results as to the working of the machine in the months of November, December and January, which subjects had not been inquired about by the plaintiff.

Evidence of a local custom is not admissible unless it is shown to be known to both parties, and this Court may infer, from the general course of the inquiries and proceedings at the trial, that a custom inquired of at the trial and so excluded was regarded by the court and by both parties as a local custom, and not as a general custom, although the record may contain nothing positive on that point.

An exception that the court did not charge either of eighteen enumerated requests for special instructions except as it had charged is an insufficient exception.

The Court stated the case as follows:

Page 144 U. S. 477

The defendant in error, plaintiff below, is a manufacturer engaged in the manufacture and sale of a crushing machine known as the "Blake" crusher. Plaintiff in error, defendant below, owns and operates a large mine of iron ore in Clinton County, New York. In 1881 and 1882, plaintiff built for defendant a crushing mill of 200 tons capacity per day, which was accepted by the defendant, and satisfactorily used for years. The operation of this crusher and its adaptability to the business necessities of the defendant were thus fully disclosed to the latter by its experience of these years. With this experience and knowledge, the following contract was entered into between the parties:

"Memorandum of agreement made and entered into this 26th day of March, 1886, between Theodore A. Blake, of New Haven, Conn. and the Chateaugay Ore & Iron Co., of Plattsburg, New York."

"Theodore A. Blake, party of the first part, in consideration of one dollar to him in hand paid and of other considerations, covenants and agrees to furnish the Chateaugay Ore & Iron Co. with a crushing plant, guaranteeing capacity of six hundred tons daily, crushed to pass through a round hole 4-16ths of an inch in diameter, consisting of the necessary crushers, screens, elevators, shafting, hangers, pulleys, couplings, collars, and belts, in accordance with the specifications hereunto annexed and drawings already submitted, delivered free on board cars at places of manufacture, together with full detailed plans of building for said crushing plant and arrangement of crushing machinery therein, and that he will send a competent man to superintend the placing and erection of the machinery without extra charge, except for board and traveling expenses, and an experienced man to put on all belts, on same terms, for the sum of twenty-five thousand five hundred dollars."

"And the said Chateaugay Ore & Iron Co., party of the second part, in consideration of the premises and other considerations, agrees to pay the said Theodore A. Blake or his order one-half the amount, viz., twelve thousand seven hundred

Page 144 U. S. 478

and fifty dollars, on presentation of the bills of lading for the sixteen crushers at the said company's office, and the remainder when the machinery is successfully running."



"By A. L. INMAN, Gen'l M'g'r."

The first half of the purchase price was paid at the stipulated time. The crushing plant was completed and put in operation about the first of October, 1886. On October 7, defendant paid plaintiff $2,500, on October 27, $2,500, and about the 9th of November, $2,500 in addition, making $7,500 paid after the completion of the plant and the commencement of its operation, and leaving a balance under the contract of $5,250, for which suit was brought. Another suit was also commenced for extras and the expenses of the superintendent. The two were consolidated by order of the court, and proceeded to trial as one. Verdict and judgment were in favor of the plaintiff for $9,574.53, to reverse which judgment the defendant, plaintiff in error, sued out this writ of error.

Page 144 U. S. 482

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