Prescott & Co. v. J.B. Powles & Co.

113 Wash. 117, 193 P. 680 (1920).

Dawson, p. 817


Facts: Powles bought 300 crates of onions to be shipped to San Francisco.However, due to the war, the United States government only allowed 240 crates to be shipped and used the rest of the space for wheat.The buyer refused to accept the 240 crates, and the seller was forced to resell at lower than contract price.The seller sued the buyer for loss of profits and the expenses of resale.At trial, the seller prevailed in the full amount claimed.The buyer appealed.


Issue: Can the seller be excused from full performance because the government commandeered shipping space for wheat?


Rule: The buyer has the right to refuse the goods if they arenít delivered in the exact amount agreed upon.


Analysis: The court is reluctant, but feels that it must lay down this hard-edged rule which will cause some hardship to the seller.The court notes that even though the seller could have used the governmentís actions as a defense if they had been sued by the buyer, they canít use that action as an excuse when they are suing the buyer on the contract and trying to get recovery for full performance.


Conclusion: The trial court is overturned and the sellerís suit is dismissed.


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