Burchell v. Marsh
THIS was an appeal from the circuit court of the United States for the district of Illinois.
The bill was filed by Marsh, Frear, and Arbuckle, to set aside an award made by arbitrators chosen by them upon the one part, and Burchell upon the other, to hear all matters of claim of either party, upon or against the other, in the law or in equity.
The facts in the case were these:--
There were two commercial firms in New York, carrying on business under the names of Marsh and Frear, and Alexander Frear and Co. The first was composed of Stewart C. Marsh and Alexander Frear; and the second, of Alexander Frear and William M. Arbuckle. Burchell was a retail country merchant, having a store at St. Charles, in Kane county, Illinois, and another store at Cherry Valley, in Winnebago county, Illinois. Burchell had been in the habit, for several years, of purchasing goods from the firms in New York, and of making payments on account.
In March, 1852, the two firms brought suits in the circuit court of the United States for Illinois, against Burchell, by summons. At April term, 1852, at Chicago, Burchell filed an affidavit for a continuance, stating that he could prove by absent witnesses that the debt was not due when the suit was brought in March, nor until the April following. Whereupon the plaintiffs submitted to a nonsuit.
In May, 1852, the two firms renewed their suits, but filed the affidavits required by law, and commenced the suits by writs of capias ad respondendum, under which Burchell was arrested and held to bail. The amount claimed by Marsh and Freer was $12,000, and by Freer and Arbuckle, $2,014. These suits were brought by R. V. M. Cross, as agent and attorney for the plaintiffs.
In July, 1852, the court being held at Springfield, the causes were continued upon affidavit of the defendant.
In October, 1852, there was an agreement for a reference to arbitrators, which, however, was afterwards revoked by Freer.
In December, 1852, the parties agreed upon another award. The agreement recited the claims of the firms upon Burchell, and the suits, 'by which the said Burchell claims to have sustained damages by reason of having been sued by said firms as aforesaid, and by reason of the doings of the said firms towards him.' The agreement then proceeded thus:--
Now, therefore, in consideration of the premises, and to put an end to all further controversies, and for a full and final adjustment of all differences between them, this article of submission, made and entered into this 15th day of December, A. D. 1852, between Alexander Freer, william M. Arbuckle, and Stewart C. Marsh, of the one part, and Peter J. Burchell, of the other part, witnesseth, that the said parties have agreed to and do hereby submit all demands, suits, claims, causes of action, controversies, and disputes between them, to the arbitrament, determination, and award of F. B. Mosley, Oliver M. Butler, and such other person as the said Mosley and Butler may select, who are within sixty days from the day of the date hereof, and on such day as they or a majority of them shall select, meet at St. Charles, Kane county, (of the time of which meeting notice shall be given to the said parties or their attorneys,) and the said arbitrators shall hear all matters of claim of either party upon or against the other, founded in law or equity. And the said award shall direct and determine what, if any thing, is due or owing from said Burchell to said firms, or what, if any thing, shall be due from either or both of said firms to the said Burchell, &c., &c.
Evidence was given before the arbitrators, of the accounts, of the credits, the institution of the suits, of the time when the goods were to be paid for, of Burchell's pecuniary condition, of the arrest under the capias, and bail, of the violent declarations of Cross, the agent of the plaintiffs, the opinions of witnesses, how much injury Burchell's credit had sustained by reason of the suits, &c., &c.
In February, 1853, the arbitrators awarded as follows, namely:
'First, that all claims, demands, controversies, and disputes, between the respective parties, or between the said Burchell and the firm of Marsh and Freer, and also between the firm of Alexander Freer and Co. and the said Burchell, should cease and be determined by the said award. Second, that as between Stewart C. Marsh and Alexander Freer (the firm of Marsh and Freer) and the said Burchell, that there was due from said firm of Marsh and Freer to the said Peter J. Burchell, the sum of one hundred dollars, which said sum they did direct that the said Marsh and Freer should pay in money to the said Peter J. Burchell, in one month from the date of said award. Third, as between Alexander Freer and William M. Arbuckle, (the firm of Alexander Freer and Co.,) that there was due from said firm of Alexander Freer and Co. to said Burchell, the sum of twenty-five dollars, which said sum they did direct that your orators, Alexander Freer and William M. Arbuckle, should pay in money to said Burchell, in one month from the date of the said award. Fourth, that the costs of said arbitration should be paid as follows: That the firms should pay all the costs which they had made or occasioned, and should also pay the said Burchell his costs expended in and about said arbitration.
In February, 1853, the firms filed a bill, on the equity side of the court, to set aside this award. The bill was answered, and the cause came up, upon bill and answer, in May, 1853, when the court decreed that the award should in all things be vacated, annulled, and set aside; and that Burchell should absolutely refrain and desist from counting upon, or in any manner pleading said award, in any suit or proceeding, in law or equity.
Burchell appealed to this court.
It was argued by Mr. Gillet, for the appellant, and by Mr. Carlisle and Mr. Washburne, for the appellees.
Mr. Gillet made the following points:--
1. The arbitrators had full power to act upon all 'demands, suits, claims, causes of action, controversies, and disputes between the parties.'
2. Under this submission, the arbitrators were constituted by the parties sole judges of the facts and the law, and equity arising from them.
3. That an award is made in ignorance of the rights of the parties, and of the duties and powers of the arbitrators, is no ground for setting it aside.
4. A court of equity will only interfere to set aside an award on a voluntary submission, for corruption or improper conduct of the arbitrators; and on a hearing, upon bill and answer, when these are charged and denied, the award cannot be set aside.
5. Every thing is to be presumed and every legal intendment made in favor of an award.
6. Where the submission is general, the power to award costs is a necessary incident to the power of the arbitrators.
7. Where an award covers matters not submitted, but is good in other respects, such matters will be rejected as surplusage, and the residue of the award will be good.
8. Where the whole or a part of an award is not within the terms of the submission, the party can obtain redress at law, and a court of equity has no jurisdiction.
The counsel for the appellees stated the case as follows:--
The answer admits Burchell's indebtedness to the firm of Marsh and Freer, to the amount of $3,822, and interest, and to the firm of Freer and Co., $1,014.80, being less than the amounts claimed by them respectively in the bill; but no proof appears in the record to countervail the answer in this respect.
There is no pretence in the record of any debt (technically) by the appellees, or either of them, to Burchell; nor of any demand (in the largest sense) against them, or either of them, except such as may have accrued by reason of an alleged anticipation of the maturity of his debts to them respectively, and the alleged premature institution of suits against him thereon.
The award (as alleged and admitted ubi supra) was as follows: -
First. That all claims, demands, controversies, and disputes, between the respective parties, or between the said Burchell and the firm of Marsh and Freer, and also between the firm of Alexander Freer and Co. and the said Burchell, should cease, and be determined by the said award.
Second. That as between Marsh and Freer, and said Burchell, there was due from said firm to said Burchell the sum of $100; which sum should be paid, &c.
Third. That as between A. Freer and Co. and said Burchell, there was due from said firm to said Burchell, $25, to be paid, &c.
Fourth. That the appellees should pay the costs.
The case was heard on bill, answer, exhibits, and replication.
It is only necessary to read the bill and answers, to be persuaded of the gross injustice which has been done to the appellees.
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