Saturday, May 12, 2007

Can't Blame Him For Trying?!

135 U.S. 550
10 S.Ct. 841
34 L.Ed. 258


May 19, 1890

Assistant Attorney General Maury, for plaintiff in error.
John L. Webster, for defendant in error.

This was an action at law brought in the court below by the United States against Luke Voorhees, to recover the sum of $14,342.52, alleged to have been illegally paid him for carrying the mails. The amended petition, filed on the 13th of July, 1886, alleged substantially as follows: In the year 1878 a contract was entered into between the postmaster general and the defendant, by the terms of which the latter agreed to carry the mails of the United States over route No. 35,040, from Fargo to Pembina, Dak., and back, six times a week, on a schedule of 62 hours a trip, for the sum of $17,000 a year. On the 30th of July, 1878, by reason of certain requests and a petition obtained by the defendant and his agents and employes acting for him, representing that the business interests of the country along the route demanded the expediting of the schedule time to 40 hours, which were forwarded to the postmaster general by or at the solicitation of the defendant, an order was made by that officer, to take effect August 1, 1878, expediting the schedule, and reducing the running time upon which the mail was required to be carried over the route to 43 hours in summer, and 50 hours in winter, and allowing an additional sum therefor of $8,500. So much of the aforesaid order as allowed the defendant the additional pay (which he afterwards received from time to time) was made upon the basis of his sworn statement, as follows: 'I hereby certify that it will take fifty per cent more men and horses to perform mail service on route 35,040 from Fargo to Pembina, on a reduced schedule from sixty-two hours to forty-three hours in summer and fifty hours in winter.' The petition then alleged that from the beginning of the mail service on the aforesaid route, under the defendant's contract, the mail was in fact carried over the route on a schedule of less than 43 hours, and was so being carried at the time the order expediting the service was made; that the defendant was engaged in running a line of stage coaches over the route, and carried the mail upon his stages, upon a schedule of less than 43 hours, for his own convenience and advantage; and that no additional stock and carriers were employed or rendered necessary, over and above the number actually employed and used by the defendant in performing the service under the original contract, by reason of the order expediting the service as...