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Law School Case Brief

N. Irr. Co. v. Dodd - 162 S.W. 946 (Tex. Civ. App. 1913)

Rule:

Where a person creates a charge or obligation upon himself by express contract, he will not be permitted to excuse himself therefrom by pleading an act of God rendering such performance impossible.

Facts:

Appellant lessor agreed to lease to appellee lessee 600 acres of land belonging to it for the year 1910 and to furnish the lessee seed and water. The lessee bound himself to cultivate the land in a proper manner. He was to have one-half of the crop that he raised thereon. The lessee complied with his part of the contract, but the lessor failed to furnish any water after about the middle of June. The lessee brought an action for damages against the lessor amounting to $13,500. The trial court entered judgment upon a verdict for the lessee. The lessor sought to excuse itself from compliance with its contract on the ground that it was prevented from doing so by an act of God, namely a drought and the complete failure of the water supply in the Colorado River. The lessor challenged the judgment of the trial court.

Issue:

Was the lessor excused from complying with his obligation based on an Act of God?

Answer:

No

Conclusion:

The Court of Civil Appeals of Texas affirmed the trial court's judgment in favor of appellee lessee. The Court observed that where a person created a charge or obligation upon himself by express contract, he would not be permitted to excuse himself by pleading an act of God rendering such performance impossible. The law did not impose on the lessor any duty to irrigate its own land; it bound itself by contract to do so and made no exception by reason of act of God or inevitable accident. The Court was not at liberty to read such exceptions into the contract.

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