Friday, December 27, 2013

Fairmount Glass Works v. Cub Fork Coal Co. case brief

Fairmount Glass Works v. Cub Fork Coal Co. case brief summary
287 U.S. 474 (1933)

Defendant purchaser sought review of a judgment of the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit which reversed a judgment awarding nominal damages to defendant sellers for the purchaser's breach of a contract for the sale of coal.

From the time when the purchaser refused to accept further deliveries until the end of the 12 months fixed for delivery by the parties' contract, there was a serious decline in the market price of coal. The purchaser pleaded several defenses and set forth a counterclaim for failure to make delivery. The jury's verdict awarded $ 1 to the sellers. Based upon the market prices proven at trial, the court of appeals determined that the minimum award recoverable by the sellers was $ 18,250. The court of appeals deemed the district court's refusal to grant the sellers' motion for new trial reversible error. Following the parties' failure to stipulate to a modified judgment, the court of appeals directed that a new trial be granted on the issue of the sellers' damages.


  • Concluding that the verdict was not inconsistent on its face, the Court held that the district court's refusal to grant a new trial was not reversible error. 
  • The Court reasoned that the jury might have found in favor of the purchaser on certain contested issues of liability and that the award of nominal damages could be explained by the jury's wish to have costs taxed against the purchaser.
The Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals and affirmed the district court's judgment awarding nominal damages to the sellers.

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