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Heart v. East Tennessee Brewing Co.

Supreme Court of Tennessee, Knoxville

September, 1908, Decided

No Number in Original


 [**364]   [*70]  MR. JUSTICE SHIELDS delivered the opinion of the Court.

Complainant on August 31, 1902, leased a certain house and lot situated in Knoxville, Tenn. and owned by him, to the defendant for a term of eight years, to be used as a saloon or place for the sale of intoxicating liquors, as expressed in the written lease that day made and executed by both parties. The defendant entered into possession of the property, and paid the rent contracted for to November 1, 1907, but after that declined to further use it, or pay any rent. Complainant sues to collect rent accruing since November 1, 1907. The contract of lease was exhibited with and made a part of the bill, and therein the terms of the contract and the purposes for which the property was to be used are fully set forth.

The chancellor sustained a demurrer to the bill upon the ground that by chapters 17, 206, 207, pp. 81, 752, 755, Acts Gen. Assem. 1907,  [***2]  the sale of intoxicating  [*71]  liquors was made unlawful and prohibited in the city of Knoxville from and after November 1, 1907, and therefore the purpose for which the lease was made was from that time illegal, and the contract void and unenforceable, and complainant has brought the case to this court for review.

There is no error in the action of the chancellor. When the contract was made, the purpose for which the property was leased--the sale of intoxicating liquors in Knoxville--was lawful, and the lease valid and enforceable. Afterwards, November 1, 1907, that purpose was made unlawful by the acts of the general assembly above referred to, and thus by operation of law the lease became and is void and unenforceable at the instance of either party.

It is a principle of general application that ] all contracts are void which provide for doing a thing which is contrary to law, morality, and public policy. Yerger v. Rains, 4 Hum. 259; Wetmore v. Brien, 3 Head 723; Henderson v. Waggoner, 2 Lea 134, 31 Am. Rep. 591; Rhodes v. Summerhill, 4 Heisk. 205; Page on Contracts, sec. 326.

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121 Tenn. 69 *; 113 S.W. 364 **; 1908 Tenn. LEXIS 7 ***; 13 Cates 69


Prior History:  [***1]  Appeal from the Chancery Court of Knox County.--JOSEPH W. SNEED, Chancellor.

Disposition: Decree affirmed, with costs.


Contracts, lease, sale of intoxicating liquors, rent, insured, parties, void, impossibility, unenforceable, Afterwards, discharged, purposes, becomes, agrees, avoids, import, saloon, vessel

Contracts Law, Defenses, Illegal Bargains, Real Property Law, Lease Agreements, Commercial Leases, General Overview, Business & Corporate Compliance, Contracts Law, Types of Contracts, Executory Contracts