Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Hathaway v. Sabin case brief

Hathaway v. Sabin case brief summary
22 A. 633 (Vt. 1891)

Defendant hall owner sought review of an order of a trial court (Vermont) directing a verdict for plaintiff musician, in the musician's action against the hall owner for breach of contract.

The hall owner entered into a contract with the musician, whereby the hall owner agreed to provide the musician with a hall in which to provide a concert. As part of the agreement, after the concert, the hall owner was to provide the musician a fee.


  • The court ruled that the trial court properly directed a verdict for the musician. 
  • The court found that the breach was the non-payment of the fee, but the antecedent act was the hall owner's failure to provide the musician with the means of earning the fee. 
  • In so ruling, the court rejected the hall owner's argument that his breach was excused by the musician's apparent impossibility of reaching the hall, due to bad weather. 
  • Because the musician was able to reach the hall, he was entitled to the benefit of the contract, despite the hall owner's assumption that the musician would not make it. 
  • The court also rejected the hall owner's argument that, having been found liable, he was entitled to have the jury set damages. 
  • A directed verdict as to damages was proper where the damages were clearly what the musician would have been entitled to had the hall owner provided the hall.
The court affirmed the trial court's order directing a verdict for the musician.

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