Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Day v. Caton case brief

Day v. Caton case brief summary
119 Mass. 513 (1876)


CASE SYNOPSIS
Defendant owner of lot 27 sought review of the decision of the Suffolk Superior Court (Massachusetts), which granted judgment in favor of plaintiff owner of lot 29 in the action of the owner of lot 29 to recover the value of one half of a brick party wall that the owner of lot 29 built between the two lots.

CASE FACTS
The owner of lot 29 built a party wall on the property line with lot 27. The owner of lot 29 alleged that the owner of lot 27 agreed to pay one half the value when he used it for his own building. The owner of lot 27 denied this agreement. The owner of lot 29 brought an action against the owner of lot 27 to recover half of the value of the wall. The judge instructed the jury that it could infer a promise to pay part of the value of the wall if the party knew that the other party expected payment and allowed him to act without objecting. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the owner of lot 29.

DISCUSSION

  • On the appeal of the owner of lot 27, the court overruled the exceptions and affirmed the decision of the trial court. 
  • The court determined that silence in the face of the actions of another party rendering services which were valuable to the silent party may be evidence of an acceptance and an agreement to pay for it, that the trial judge properly instructed the jury, and that the issue of the inference of acceptance was properly an issue for the jury.

CONCLUSION
The court affirmed the decision of the trial court, overruling the exceptions to the judge's instructions to the jury about inferring a promise to pay and a completed contract by the silence of the owner of lot 27 in face of the actions of the owner of lot 29. The court held that there was an inferred agreement on the part of the owner of lot 27 to pay for the wall.

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