Cannon v. Oregon Moline Plow Co.

Decision Date08 April 1921
Docket Number16297.
CourtWashington Supreme Court

Department 1.

Appeal from Superior Court, Spokane County; R. M. Webster, Judge.

Action by George J. Cannon against the Oregon Moline Plow Company and another. From a judgment for plaintiff for partial relief only, he appeals. Affirmed.

Edward J. Cannon, Francis J. McKevitt, and Orville W. Duell, all of Spokane, for appellant.

J. D Campbell and Henry L. Kennan, both of Spokane, for respondents.


Appellant brought this action against the Oregon Moline Plow Company and R. C. Holt, doing business under the name of the Spokane Farm Machinery Company, to recover damages in the sum of $33,937. The complaint alleged that appellant purchased a tractor from R. C. Holt, doing business as the Spokane Farm Machinery Company, a dealer in tractors, and that he settled for the same by cash and notes; that the tractor was sold with the knowledge and approval of the Oregon Moline Plow Company, the manufacturer or whole-saler of the tractor that, being in disrepair, the plow company later wrongfully got possession of the tractor under the pretense of repairing it, and thereupon, because it had not been paid for converted the same, thereby depriving the appellant of the use thereof during the season in which he must prepare his potato fields for planting; that, as the plow company well knew, he could not then get other power in time to do the work and conserve the moisture in the ground; that he later got other power, but the moisture was gone and the seed did not grow and his crop was a total loss, except where planted upon small tracts of ground plowed by the tractor before it was converted, on which parcels of land crops were raised because the moisture was retained; that the plow company had been fully informed of, and knew, what damage would be caused by this wrong; that appellant was engaged in producing high-grade pedigreed potatoes for seed for irrigated regions which brought a very high price.

The findings of the trial court are in nearly all respects favorable to appellant's contention, except that the court exonerated Mr. Holt from participation in the conversion of the tractor, and as to this finding the appellant does not complain. The trial court found that had the balance of 39 acres produced a like number of sacks, or hundred pounds, of potatoes as did the small parcels planted at the same time, with the same seed, and cultivated in the same manner, per acre, appellant would have made therefrom, above the expense of caring for, harvesting, and selling the same, a profit of $29,441; but refused to find that the proximate cause of the failure to raise 154 1/2 tons of potatoes of the kind grown by appellant was the wrongful taking of the tractor from him by the plow company, and found that the damages above mentioned are too speculative, and allowed appellant $267, which was the value of his time and outlay in money for hire of horses and effort to secure horses by purchase, and money paid by appellant upon the purchase of the tractor.

Appellant excepted to a part of finding No. 15, made by the trial court, as follows:

'* * * And that the loss of the potato crop on the 39 acres, as estimated and valued in finding 12 hereof, was * * * too remote and speculative to be considered in the fixing of the sum of plaintiff's legal damages flowing from such conversion.'

He excepted also to the refusal of the court to make the following finding:

'That the proximate cause of the failure to raise 154 1/2 tons of said potatoes was the wrongful taking of the said tractor from the plaintiff by said Oregon Moline Plow Company, as herein recited.'

This appeal is prosecuted upon the theory that the damages allowed by the court were inadequate, and that the damages shown by appellant were sufficiently and accurately proven, and that he had a right to recover the same as the amount of his actual loss caused by the wrongful conversion of the tractor by the plow company.

Respondent, on the other hand, contends that the proximate cause of the loss of the crop of potatoes was: (a) Weather conditions; (b) negligence on the part of appellant to use ordinary endeavors to get another tractor, or horses, and put in his crop promptly; (c) neglect and refusal of appellant to use his credit to procure another tractor; (d) that there were plenty of other tractors on the Spokane market suitable for appellant's work, which might have been procured by him if he had been willing. Respondent also contends that the damages claimed by appellant to be the result of the conversion of the tractor were not such damages as were within the contemplation of the parties at the time of the breach, and are too remote and speculative to be considered.

The findings of the court, amply supported by the evidence, establish the fact that the conversion of the tractor was wrongful, and imposed a liability upon the respondent plow company.

We have followed the rule that loss of profit may be recovered in case of a breach of contract where the evidence is such that the profit lost can be ascertained with reasonable certainty. Shotwell v. Dodge, 8 Wash. 337, 36 P. 254; Creech v. Humptulips Boom Co., 37 Wash. 172, 79 P. 633; Kopczynski v. Balcom-Vanderhoof Logging Co., 71 Wash. 93, 127 P. 601; Bogart v. Pitchless Lumber Co., 72 Wash. 417, 130 P. 490; Nelson v. Davenport, 108 Wash. 259, 183 P. 132.

Appellant contends that, having committed ourselves to that rule, the same rule should be followed where the damage is the result of conversion or other tort; that loss of profits is more frequently allowed to be recovered in cases of tort than in cases of contract. Leonard v. Beaudry, 68 Mich. 312, 36 N.W. 88.

Authorities are cited to the effect that loss of profits may be recovered by one who has lost his crops through the wrong of another, whether it be a tort or breach of contract. Colorado Canal Co. v. McFarland (Tex. Civ. App.) 94 S.W. 400; Northern Colorado Irr. Co. v. Richards, 22 Colo. 450, 45 P. 427; Herring v. Armwood, 130 N.C. 177, 41 S.E. 96, 57 L. R. A. 958; Kent v. Halliday, 23 R.I. 182, 49 A. 700; Pawnee v. Jenkins, 1 Colo. App. 425, 29 P. 381; Vaughan's Seed Store v. Stringfellow, 56 Fla. 708, 48 So. 410; Holt v. U.S. Securities Co., 76 N. J. Law, 585, 72 A. 301, 21 L. R. A. (N. S.) 691; Swain v. Schieffelin, 134 N.Y. 471, 31 N.E. 1025, 18 L. R. A. 385.

It is a general rule, and uniformly followed in this jurisdiction, that a party is entitled to compensation for any injury to him or his property in such an amount as will compensate him for all the detriment proximately caused thereby, or which, in the ordinary course of things, would be likely to result therefrom, and reasonable to presume to have been in the contemplation of the parties. A person is not liable in damages for the remote consequences of his acts or conjectural consequences. Wright v. Computing Scale Co., 47 Wash. 107, 91 P. 571; Eichbaum v. Caldwell Bros. Co., 58 Wash. 163, 108 P. 434; Hausken v. Hodson-Feenaughty Co., 109 Wash. 606, 187 P. 319.

Special damages by way of anticipated profits arising from an act injurious in itself may be recovered if they can be ascertained with reasonable certainty, and the profits of which the complaining party was deprived, causing the alleged damage, can reasonably be presumed to have been contemplated by the parties when the transaction occurred, and the damages complained of were the natural and proximate consequence of the transaction which injured the complaining party. Hoskins v. Scott, 52 Or. 271, 96 P. 1112.

In the cases cited by appellant, where damages for losses are sustained, as well as future profits that would have been gained, from crops lost or shortened for failure to furnish water for irrigation of land as contracted, the results to users of water for farming purposes are certainly so disastrous and irremediable that the courts hold that a party controlling the supply of water, and contracting to supply definite and sufficient quantities to users, should not be exonerated from a failure to perform, except under circumstances...

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11 cases
  • Nora v. Safeco Ins. Co.
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court
    • April 11, 1978 special damages by adopting a rule analogous to Hadley v. Baxendale. The Washington Supreme Court, in Cannon v. Oregon Moline Plow Co., 115 Wash. 273, 197 P. 39 (1921), denied recovery for lost profits to farmer plaintiff whose tractor had been converted by the tractor's seller. The......
  • Vanderbeek v. Vernon Corp., No. 00SC960.
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court
    • June 17, 2002 to cause, nor speculative and conjectural in effect.'" 144 Colo. at 549, 357 P.2d at 631-32 (quoting Cannon v. Oregon Moline Plow Co., 115 Wash. 273, 197 P. 39, 41 (1921)). Under either a tort or a contract standard, the foreseeability of the consequences is a factor. However, the test d......
  • King Logging Co., Inc. v. Scalzo
    • United States
    • Washington Court of Appeals
    • February 16, 1977
    ...or speculative. In quoting form Sledge v. Reid, 73 N.C. 440 (1875), our Supreme Court in Cannon v. Oregon Moline Plow Co., 115 Wash. 273, at page 280, 197 P. 39, at page 42 (1921), expresses the rule and its rationale as Consequential damage, to be recoverable, in an action of tort, must be......
  • Brinnon Logging Co. v. Carlsborg Mill & Timber Co.
    • United States
    • Washington Supreme Court
    • December 11, 1922
    ...Its conduct therefore was such as to mislead respondent, and the jury was warranted in finding that it was so misled. In Cannon v. Oregon Moline Plow Co., supra, there was question in the case but that appellant's contract had been breached, and that he had suffered damages, but it also app......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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