Loss should be determined by the most accurate measure possible.
Respondent coal dealer purchased a carload of coal while it was in transit. On delivery there was a shortage. The coal was added to his stock of coal for resale, but the shortage did not interfere with maintenance of his usual stock. He lost no sales by reason of it, yet brought an action under the Cummins Act for failure to complete the full delivery. After a first trial and reversal on appeal, the lower court gave judgment for the retail value of coal not delivered, which the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court granted certiorari.
Is a measure of loss at retail price appropriate when it was capable of replacement at wholesale price?
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. 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.