Missouri Furnace v. Cochran

United States Circuit Court, W.D. Pennsylvania, 1881.

8 F. 463.

Dawson, p. 56-57


Facts: The Missouri Furnace made a contract with the defendant for the sale and daily delivery of coke.  Cochran repudiated the contract partway through, and Missouri Furnace contracted with a third party to deliver the rest of the coke for the year at the (now much higher) market price.  The plaintiff sued for the difference between the market value of the remaining coke for the year and the contract cost.  The trial court instead awarded the plaintiff the market price on each date of delivery minus the contract price.  The plaintiff moved for a new trial based on faulty jury instructions.


Issue: What damages should be awarded to the plaintiff if they made a contract to replace the original contract part of the way through its term?


Rule: Damages are to be measured by the difference between the cost of the goods on the date of delivery and the contracted cost of the goods.


Analysis: The court argues that the plaintiff should not recover for the full difference between the value of the coke at the time the plaintiff made a contract for the rest of the year.  They say that the plaintiff was under no compulsion to make the second contract, and in fact, if they had purchased the coke on a day-to-day basis or on shorter contracts they would have saved a lot of money because the price of coke went down so much later.


Conclusion: The motion for a new trial was rejected.




This note gives some background about the labor-management relations of the time that influenced the price of coke.


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