Acme Mills & Elevator Co. v. Johnson

Court of Appeals of Kentucky, 1911.

141 Ky. 718, 133 S.W. 784.

Dawson, p. 23-25


Facts: Johnson made a contract with Acme to deliver wheat for $1.03 per bushel.  Acme provided Johnson with sacks for the wheat.  Johnson failed to deliver the wheat in time because he’d heard Acme was going out of business.  When he finished threshing, the price of wheat was under $1 per bushel, which is lower than the price agreed upon in the contract.  Acme sued Johnson for breach of contract, and won $80, which is what the sacks were worth, plus court costs.


Procedural Posture: Acme is filing an appeal because they were


Issue: Can Johnson be found liable for breach of contract if no harm was done?


Rule: “The vendee is entitled to damages against the vendor for a failure to comply and the measure of damages is the difference between the contract price and the market price of the property at the place and time of delivery.”


Analysis: The main reasoning of the court is that the appellant ought not be able to collect damages because the appellant actually benefited from the contract breach.


Conclusion: The lower court’s ruling was affirmed.  Johnson didn’t have to pay more than the $80 for the sacks.


Crazy terms:


estoppel: 1. A bar that prevents one from asserting a claim or right that contradicts what one has said or done before or what has been legally established as true. 2. A bar that prevents the relitigation of issues. 3. An affirmative defense alleging good-faith reliance on a misleading representation and an injury or detrimental change in position resulting from that reliance.  (Black’s 7th)



to act to one’s prejudice


Questions: What if instead of wheat, the contract was for something the vendee couldn’t live without, like some kind of drug?  What if it was something extraordinarily scarce?  What if the interest of the promisee is to get his hands on the thing at any price?




Dawson discusses the doctrine of estoppel.  The court in this case refused to apply estoppel because you can only invoke it when (I think) something you did let the other party to act in a way that hurt that other party.


Back to Casebook Notes