Friday, March 09, 2007

Business Law, Early St. Vincent Style

That litigous Brawley1 strikes again2...!

33 Minn. 377

DANIEL F. BRAWLEY and another, impleaded, etc.

Supreme Court of Minnesota.
May 25, 1885.

Ferry crossing Red River at St. VincentBy Sp. Laws 1876, c. 132, the defendant Daniel F. Brawley was granted a special ferry franchise for the Red river, at St. Vincent, upon the conditions stated in the opinion. This act of the legislature was repealed by Sp. Laws 1881, c. 364, approved February 24, 1881. On May 20, 1879, defendant Brawley assigned to plaintiff one-half interest in the ferry franchise. In April, 1881, the county commissioners of Kittson county, under the authority of Sp. Laws 1881, c. 364, granted to defendant Brawley an exclusive right and license to maintain and operate a ferry across the Red river, at St. Vincent, which right and license were exercised by the defendants to the exclusion of the plaintiff.

Plaintiff, alleging that the defendant Brawley, for the purpose of cheating and defrauding the plaintiff, and by false and fraudulent representations, procured the passage of the repealing act of 1881, brought this action in the district court for Ramsey county to have the repealing act declared null and void, and asking for an accounting and division of the receipts and profits derived from the maintenance and operation of the ferry under the license granted by the county commissioners.

The action was tried by Brill, J., who found, among other facts, that no ferry was kept or maintained during 1877 and the greater part of 1878, and, as a conclusion of law, held the repealing act of 1881 valid, and directed judgment for defendants, which was entered and the plaintiff appealed.

William Barrett and E. F. Lane, for appellant.

J. M. Gilman, for respondents.


By Sp. Laws 1876, c. 132, the legislature of this state granted to defendant Brawley, his heirs, executors, administrators, or assigns, the exclusive right and privilege, for a period of 10 years, of keeping and maintaining a ferry across the Red river at St. Vincent, in the county of Pembina. Section 2 of the act provides that "the said Daniel F. Brawley shall, within six months after the passage of this act, place and maintain upon such ferry such good and sufficient boat or boats as may be necessary to carry across said river all teams, horses, cattle, and other property, and for the accommodation of foot passengers, and shall at all times give ready and prompt attention to passengers and teams on all occasions, and at all hours of the day and night." Section 7 reads: "If the said Daniel F. Brawley, his heirs or assigns, fail to fulfil any of the conditions of this act, then the legislature may, at any time, alter, amend, or repeal the same." Brawley transferred a one-half interest in the ferry to plaintiff. As found by the court below, the conditions...

1 Read about Brawley and his high hopes for St. Vincent in this earlier post...

2 Brawley appears to have had a habit of trying to force his hand...
96 U.S. 168

24 L.Ed. 622


October Term, 1877
APPEAL from the Court of Claims.

This is a petition by Brawley to recover the amount of eight hundred and forty cords of wood, at $3.99 per cord, which the claimant alleges that he was prepared and ready to furnish, under a contract entered into by the claimant with Lieutenant-Colonel Holabird, Deputy Quartermaster-General United States Army, in May, 1871. The principal article, and that on which the present controversy arises, was in the following words:

'I. That the said Daniel F. Brawley, his heirs, assignees, administrators, and executors, shall sell, furnish, and deliver, cut and split in lengths of four (4) feet, duly piled or corded under the direction and supervision of the post-quartermaster, within the enclosure of the post of Fort Pembina, Dakota Territory, eight hundred and eighty (880) cords of sound, of first quality, of merchantable oak wood, more or less, as shall be determined to be necessary, by the post-commander, for the regular supply, in accordance with army regulations, of the troops and employees of the garrison of said post, for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 1871, and ending June 30, 1872. The delivery of eight hundred and eighty (880) cords to be completed on or before Jan. 1, 1872; but any additional number of cords of wood that may be required over and above that amount may be delivered from time to time, regulated by the proper military authorities, based upon the actual necessities of the troops for the period above mentioned; provided, that if the wood be less than four (4) feet in length, due allowance shall be made for such shortage by an increased quantity, the cubical contents of the wood being measured in all cases. Delivery on this contract to begin on or before July 15, 1871, unless the time be extended by the commanding officer of the post.'

It appears by the findings of the Court of Claims that said contract was entered into in pursuance of an estimate made by the proper officer of the quartermaster's department, and after an advertisement for proposals, upon which the claimant made a bid which was accepted,—the quantity named being eight hundred and eighty cords of wood or more. The bids were opened April 15, 1871. The contract was awarded to the claimant May 6, 1871, but, although dated on that day, it was not executed until about the 14th of June. About the 18th of the latter month, the post-commander of Fort Pembina first learned of it, and informed the claimant that but forty cords of wood would be required thereon, and forbade his hauling...