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Opinion of the Court.
Mr. John C. Lee for defendant in error.
MR. JUSTICE Harlan delivered the opinion of the court.
After reciting the foregoing facts, he continued : It is insisted by the defendant in error that the value of the matter really in dispute here is less than the amount requisite to give this court jurisdiction. Upon this ground a motion to dismiss was here. tofore made, and was denied. To that ruling we adhere. Upon the pleadings it is apparent that the defendant asserts its right to judgment for $6,619.70 after crediting plaintiff, not only with the sum specified in the contract, but with every other sum to which he is entitled in the accounting. This is conclusive as to our jurisdiction upon this writ of error.
It was not claimed on the trial, nor is it contended here, that the company made any statement or representation as to the nature or character of the false work it did, and which, by the contract, Hamilton agreed to assume and pay for. But there was evidence tending to show that the insufficiency of that false work was unknown to Hamilton at the time the contract was made; was not apparent upon any examination he then made, or could have made; and was not discovered, indeed, could not have been discovered, until, during the progress of the erection of the bridge, the false work was practically tested.
The court, among other things, instructed the jury, at the request of plaintiff, and over the objections of the defendant, that by the contract-looking at all the circumstances attending its execution and giving to its terms a fair and reasonable interpretation—there was an implied warranty upon the part of the company that the false work it did, and which plaintiff agreed to assume and pay for, was suitable and proper for the purposes for which the Bridge Company knew it was to be used. This instruction was accompanied by the observation that if the evidence showed “ that the particular work which was said to be defective was such that the plaintiff could not by examination ascertain its defects—for if they were apparent by mere examination of the false work it was the duty of the plaintiff to make that good—he had the right to rely upon the implied warranty; that is, if the defects were such that they could not
Opinion of the Court.
be, by ordinary observation and care on behalf of the plaintiff, ascertained and found out.” That instruction presents the only question we deem it necessary to determine. Although there are several assignments of error, they depend, as counsel for plaintiff in error properly concede, upon the inquiry whether the court erred in ruling that by the terms of the contract there was an implied warranty that the false work constructed by the Bridge Company was suitable and proper for the purposes for which it was to be used by Hamilton.
The argument in behalf of plaintiff in error proceeds upon the ground that there was a simple transfer by the company of its ownership of the work and materials as they existed at the time of the contract ; that Hamilton took the false work for what it was, and just as it stood; consequently, that the rule of caveat emptor applies with full force. The position of counsel for Hamilton is that, as in cases of sales of articles by those manufacturing or making them, there was an implied warranty by the Bridge Company that the work sold or transferred to Hamilton was reasonably fit for the purposes for which it was purchased.
The cases in which the general rule of caveat emptor applies are indicated in Barnard v. Kellogg, 10 Wall. 383, 388, where, speaking by Mr. Justice Davis, the court observed, that,
“No principle of the common law has been better established, or more often affirmed, both in this country and in England, than that in sales of personal property, in the absence of express warranty, where the buyer has an opportunity to inspect the commodity, and the seller is guilty of no fraud, and is neither the manufacturer nor grower of the article he sells, the maxim of caveat emptor applies.”
An examination of the ground upon which some of the cases have placed the general rule, as well as the reasons against its application, under particular circumstances, to sales of articles by those who have manufactured them, will aid us in determining how far the doctrines of those cases should control the one before us.
Opinion of the Court.
The counsel for the Bridge Company relies upon Parkinson v. Lee, 2 East, 314, as illustrating the rule applicable in crdinary sales of merchandise. That case arose out of a sale of five pockets of hops, samples of which were taken from each pocket and exhibited at the time of sale. The question was whether, under the circumstances of that case—there being no express warranty and no fraud by the seller—there was an implied warranty that the commodity was merchantable. It was resolved in the negative, upon the ground that it was the fault of the buyer that he did not insist on a warranty; the commodity was one which might or might not have a latent defect, a fact well known in the trade; and since a sample was fairly taken from the bulk, and the buyer must have known, as a dealer in the commodity, that it was subject to the latent defect afterwards appearing, he was held to have exercised his own judgment and bought at his own risk. But of that case, it was observed by Chief Justice Tindal, in Shepherd v. Pybus, 3 Man. & Gr. 868, that two of the judges participating in its decision laid “great stress upon the fact that the seller was not the grower of the hops, and that the purchaser, by the inspection of the hops had as full an opportunity of judgment of the quality of the hops as the seller himself.” There was, consequently, nothing in the circumstances to justify the buyer in relying on the judgment of the seller as to the quality of the commodity. It is, also, worthy of remark, that in Randall v. Newson, 2 Q. B. 102, it was said of Parkin8on v. Lee, that “either it does not determine the extent of the seller's liability on the contract, or it has been overruled.”
In Brown v. Edgington, 2 Man. & Gr. 279, the plaintiff sought to recover damages resulting from the insufficiency of a rope furnished by the defendant upon plaintiff's order, to be used, as defendant knew, in raising pipes of wine from a cellar. The defendant did not himself manufacture the rope, but pro cured another to do so, in order that he, defendant, might furnish it in compliance with plaintiff's request. Tindal, C. J., said :
“It appears to me to be a distinction well founded, both in
Opinion of the Court.
reason and on authority, that if a party purchases an article upon his own judgment, he cannot afterwards hold the vendor responsible, on the ground that the article turns out to be unfit for the purpose for which it was required ; but if he relies upon the judgment of the seller, and informs him of the use to which the article is to be applied, it seems to me the transaction carries with it an implied warranty that the thing furnished shall be fit and proper for the purpose for which it was designed.”
In Shepherd v. Pybus, already referred to, the question was whether, upon the sale of a barge by the builder, there was a warranty of fitness for the purpose for which it was known by the builder to have been purchased. It was held that the law implied such a warranty. The ground of the decision was that the purchaser had no opportunity of inspecting the barge during its construction, having seen it only after completion; that the defects afterwards discovered were not apparent upon inspection, and could only be detected upon trial.
view of the authorities, the court classified the adjudged cases bearing upon the subject of implied warranty, and said that
“It must be taken as established that on the sale of goods by a manufacturer or dealer, to be applied to a particular purpose, it is a term in the contract that they shall reasonably answer that purpose, and that on the sale of an article by a manufacturer to a vendee who has not had the opportunity of inspecting it during the manufacture, that it shall be reasonably fit for use or shall be merchantable, as the case may be.”
Other cases might be cited, but these are sufficient to show the general current of decision in the English courts.
The decisions in the American courts do not indicate any substantial difference of doctrine. A leading case upon the subject, where the authorities were carefully examined and distinguished, is Hoe v. Sanborn, 21 N. Y. 552. The decision there was that
“Where one sells an article of his own manufacture which has a defect produced by the manufacturing process itself, the seller Opinion of the Court.
must be presumed to have had knowledge of such defect, and must be holden, therefore, upon the most obvious principles of equity and justice—unless he informs the purchaser of the defect —to indemnify him against it.”
In Cunningham v. Hall, 4 Allen, 269, the cases of Hoe v. Sanborn and Shepherd v. Pybus and Brown v. Edgington, ubi supra, are cited with approval. In Rodgers v. Niles, 11 Ohio St. 48, 53, the Supreme Court of Ohio recognizes among the exceptions to the general rule cases
“Where it is evident that the purchaser did not rely on his own judgment of the quality of the article purchased, the circumstances showing that no examination was possible on his part, or the contract being such as to show that the obligation and responsibility of ascertaining and judging of the quality was thrown upon the vendor, as where he agrees to furnish an article for a particular purpose or use."
So in Leopold v. Vankirk, 27 Wis. 152:
“The general rule of law with respect to implied warranties is well settled that when the manufacturer of an article sells it for a particular purpose, the purchaser, making known to him at the time the purpose for which he buys it, the seller thereby warrants it fit and proper for such purpose and free from latent defects.”
So also in in Brenton v. Davis, 8 Blackf. 317, 318:
“We consider the law to be settled that if a manufacturer of an article sells it at a fair market price, knowing the purchaser designs to apply it to a particular purpose, he impliedly warrants it to be fit for that purpose; and that if, owing to some defect in the article not visible to the purchaser, it is unfit for the purpose for which it is sold and bought, the seller is liable on his implied warranty.”
2 Story on Contracts, $ 1077, 5th edit., by Bigelow; 1 Chitty on Contracts, 11th American edit., 631-2, note m; Addison on Contracts, ch. 7, § 1, p. 212.
The authorities to which we have referred, although differing