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Rental contracts additional elements. The parties entering into them stipulate for shares in the crops to be produced as the benefit to be derived from them. The owner of the land expects the share reserved to himself as a return for the cultivation of his land and his other outlay. The benefits expected by the other party are employment and the stipulated return for his labor, and sometimes, a home for the time. To deprive him of these benefits is to deprive him of that which, in the very contract, both parties to it contemplate he shall receive. It would seem to follow necessarily that his damages should be compensation for what he thus lost. In such a contract the parties enter into a joint business enterprise and stipulate what shall be the advantages to each. When one wrongfully deprives the other of those advantages, he should be required to compensate him for that which the contract stipulated he should have. The objects of the contracts have a close analogy to those of a partnership and, insofar as employment for the labor of one of the parties is one of the purposes, to the contract for personal service.
In his complaint, plaintiff Ramon Cortez and his wife Amanda Cortez alleged that he rented from appellant landlord Cullen Crews, 400 acres of farm land with the necessary rent houses. Plaintiff was to take possession of the premises and cultivate the land for one-half of the crop to be raised thereon, the appellant agreeing to furnish the necessary tools, teams, and feed for the same for the cultivation of the land, and also to furnish necessary seed to plant the same. The plaintiff alleged that he went into possession of the farm, planted and cultivated the same in a proper manner, however, on that same year, the defendant, through his agent, by threats and violence deprived the appellees of possession of the premises and the growing crops, and that they were forced to abandon the same. It was substantially alleged that the appellant appropriated the crop and converted the same to his own use. The defendant denied the averments of the plaintiff's petition, and denied that he employed the plaintiff to oversee the premises or gave him control or management of the same, but that he had employed one Flores to attend to his business, including the supervision of the farm which the plaintiff was to cultivate, and that plaintiff voluntarily abandoned the premises and the crops. The appellee initiated a case against the appellant after they were forced to abandon the premises and crops due to threats and violence committed by the appellant’s agent. The appellant subsequently took possession of the premises, harvested the crops, and appropriated the proceeds to his own use. Thus, appellees brought this suit to recover damages for breach of a rental contract to the extent of one-half the value of a crop planted and raised on the land rented, also an additional sum of $ 100 salary as claimed. The case was tried in the court and verdict and judgment resulted in favor of plaintiff. The appellant appealed and the lower court submitted a certified question concerning the proper measure of damages to be awarded to the tenants.
Were the appellees entitled to recover damages for breach of rental contract by the appellant?
The court held that the appellees were entitled to recover the pecuniary benefits that would have accrued had they been allowed to fully perform the contract. The court ruled that the appellees were to receive all the return contemplated for the labor and expense of making and harvesting the crops but the expenses incurred by the appellant for labor in maturing and harvesting the crops were not to be deducted in estimating the appellees damages. The court concluded that it had endeavored to fully state the law in order to answer the certified question but was unable to determine whether or not the trial court properly charged the jury on the measure of damage issue because it lacked complete information as to the facts.