Laber v. Cooper

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Court Documents

United States Supreme Court

74 U.S. 565

Laber  v.  Cooper

ERROR to the Circuit Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

Cooper sued Laber in the court below. His declaration contained two counts upon a promissory note, made by Laber to a certain railroad company, or its order, and indorsed, as was alleged, to the plaintiff. It contained also the common counts.

The defendant pleaded the general issue, and three special pleas.

The first averred that there was no consideration for the note, and that it was obtained from the defendant by fraudulent misrepresentations; and that these facts were known to the plaintiff when he took it.

The second denied the indorsement of the note, as averred in the first count.

The third was to the same effect, as to the indorsement averred in the second count.

All the special pleas, though thus denying only what the plaintiff alleged, and not containing either new matter or a special traverse, concluded with a verification; and not to the country.

To the first of them the plaintiff replied, denying his alleged knowledge of fraudulent misrepresentations. To the second and third, no replications were filed. With the pleadings in this state, the case went to trial, and was tried as if the pleadings had been in form and perfect.

Among the testimony given by the defendant relating to both the allegation of fraudulent misrepresentation and to the matter of indorsement, was that of one Durand. The admission of part of this (not necessary to be stated, in view of the decision of this court, that it was not properly brought before it), was objected to by the defendant; but it was, nevertheless, admitted; and this was all that the bill of exceptions disclosed about the matter. No exception to it appeared on the bill.

A request for certain specific instructions, as the record showed, was made by the defendants. The court refused to give them, but charged the jury clearly upon the whole case; fully presenting in the charge its views upon both the subjects presented by the special pleas, and which were, in fact, the only grounds of the controversy. It is not necessary for the reporter to state the case at large on which the charge was given, nor the instructions asked, nor the charge itself; this court considering [1] that the report would shed no new light on any legal principle.

The language of the verdict was thus:

'We, the jury, find the issue for the plaintiff, and assess his damages to the sum of $7192.'

A motion for a new trial was made, and overruled, and judgment entered upon the verdict.

The defendant excepted to the refusal to charge as prayed, to different passages in the charge as given, and to the overruling of his motion for a new trial.

The record contained a hundred and seventy-five pages, of which more than four-sevenths was taken up by the bill of exceptions.

Mr. Carpenter, for the plaintiff in error, contended:

1. That the court had manifestly proceeded in the trial as though all the facts set forth in the defendant's three special pleas were put in issue, while no replication had been put in to the two pleas, denying the indorsement.

2. That even assuming that these matters were all in issue, the verdict did not cover them; being only upon the issue, some one issue; but upon what one did not appear.

3. That Durand's testimony was inadmissible.

4. That the court, instead of charging upon the instructions asked, and so upon points, charged upon general principles; thus not presenting the matters in issue in the best way for the jury to understand them.

[The learned counsel then analyzed the charge, endeavoring to show its error.]

Mr. Umlauf, contra.

Mr. Justice SWAYNE delivered the opinion of the court.


^1  See infra, p. 571.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).