283 U.S. 494 (1931), 362, Gasoline Products Co., Inc. v. Champlin Refining Co.

Docket Nº:No. 362
Citation:283 U.S. 494, 51 S.Ct. 513, 75 L.Ed. 1188
Party Name:Gasoline Products Co., Inc. v. Champlin Refining Co.
Case Date:May 18, 1931
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 494

283 U.S. 494 (1931)

51 S.Ct. 513, 75 L.Ed. 1188

Gasoline Products Co., Inc.


Champlin Refining Co.

No. 362

United States Supreme Court

May 18, 1931

Argued April 17, 1931




1. The Seventh Amendment preserves the substance of jury trial, and not the old form of procedure. P. 498.

2. Where its requirement of a jury trial has been satisfied by a verdict according to law upon one issue of fact, the Seventh Amendment does not compel a new trial of that issue even though another and separable issue must be tried again. P. 499.

3. Where the practice permits a partial new trial, it may not properly be resorted to unless it clearly appears that the issue to be retried is so distinct and separable from the others that a trial of it alone may be had without injustice. P. 500.

4. Petitioner sued for royalties under a contract licensing the use of a patented process of manufacture. Respondent counterclaimed for damages alleged to have resulted from failure by petitioner to perform a related contract to construct part of a plant for lack of which, respondent said, it incurred expenses for storage and suffered losses from several causes, including loss of anticipated profits. There was a verdict for the petitioner on its cause of action and for the respondent on the counterclaim. Held that, in reversing the judgment as to the counterclaim and directing a new trial with respect to the amount of damages because of error in the instructions concerning the measure of damages under it, it was not necessary to disturb the judgment on the main cause of action, but there should be a retrial of all the issues raised by the counterclaim, because

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the date of formation and breach, as well as the scope, of the contract therein relied upon were left in such doubt by the record, including the verdict, that the question of damages could not be submitted to a jury independently of the question of liability without confusion and uncertainty.

33 F.2d 521 reversed.

Certiorari, 282 U.S. 824, to review a judgment reversing a judgment in an action on a contract and directing a new trial restricted to the amount of damages on a counterclaim.

STONE, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE STONE delivered the opinion of the Court.

Petitioner brought suit in the District Court for Maine to recover royalties alleged to be due under a contract by which it licensed respondent to use two "Cross cracking units," structures adapted to the use of the "Cross cracking process" for increasing the production of gasoline from crude oil. Respondent pleaded, by way of counterclaim, in two separate counts, a contract by petitioner to construct a "Cross vapor treating tower" for treatment of gasoline, produced by the cracking units, necessary to make it marketable. The consideration for this contract was alleged to be the execution of the license contract already referred to and of two related contracts, one by a third party for the construction of the cracking units, and another by which petitioner guaranteed that they would work. Performance of these contracts is admitted.

Both counts of the counterclaim were based on the same series of transactions. The first alleged a contract arising from an oral proposal by petitioner's vice president

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in January, 1926, to construct for respondent a Cross vapor system treating tower, the cost of which was to be repaid by respondent to petitioner if the tower functioned in a satisfactory manner. This proposal was alleged to have been accepted by the execution of the other...

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