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Law School Case Brief

Ill. C. R. Co. v. Crail - 281 U.S. 57, 50 S. Ct. 180 (1930)


The test of market value is at best but a convenient means of getting at the loss suffered. It may be discarded and other more accurate means resorted to if, for special reasons, it is not exact or otherwise not applicable. In the absence of special circumstances, the damage for shortage in delivery by the seller of fungible goods sold by quantity is measured by the bulk price rather than the price for smaller quantities, both at common law, and under § 44 of the Uniform Sales Act. Likewise, the wholesale market price is to be preferred as a test over the retail when in circumstances it is clearly the more accurate measure.


Petitioner sought review of a Circuit Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit judgment under the Cummins Amendment, 49 U.S.C.S. § 20(11), for the retail value of coal not delivered. Respondent coal dealer purchased, while in transit, a carload of coal weighing at shipment 88,700 pounds. On delivery at destination, the respondent's industrial siding, there was a shortage of 5,500 pounds. At the time of arrival, respondent had not resold any of the coal. It was intended to be, and was, added to his stock of coal for resale, but the shortage did not interfere with the maintenance of his usual stock. He lost no sales by reason of it, and purchased no coal to replace the shortage, except in carload lots. In the course of his business, respondent could and did, both before and after the present shipment, purchase coal of like quality in carload lots of 60,000 pounds or more, delivered at his siding, at $ 5.50 per ton, plus freight. The market price in Minneapolis for like coal sold at retail in less than carload lots was $ 13.00 per ton, including $ 3.30 freight.


 Is a measure of loss at retail price appropriate when it was capable of replacement at wholesale price?




The language of Cummins Amendment, 49 U.S.C.S. § 20(11), gave only a right of recovery for actual loss. The cost of replacing the exact shortage at retail price was not measure of loss, since it was capable of replacement and was, in fact, replaced in the course of respondent's business from purchases made in carload lots at wholesale market price without added expense. The wholesale market price was to be preferred as a test over retail when in the circumstances it was clearly a more accurate measure.

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