Herrick v. Baldwin

Decision Date01 January 1872
Citation17 Minn. 183
PartiesWILLIAM W. HERRICK v. RUFUS J. BALDWIN, impleaded, etc.
CourtMinnesota Supreme Court

Thomas Lowry, for appellant.

Cornell & Bradley, for respondent.

BERRY, J.

Defendant Putnam made a promissory note for $750, payable six months after date to defendant Baldwin who indorsed the same and returned it to the maker. The note was made wholly for Putnam's benefit, Baldwin being a mere accommodation indorser. At the time of the indorsement and return aforesaid the note was undated, but a date was subsequently inserted by Putnam, pursuant to an understanding between him and Baldwin. After the note was indorsed and returned as aforesaid, Putnam, without the knowledge, privity, or consent of Baldwin, added to the body of the note the words following, to-wit: "Payable before maturity, and interest on unexpired term refunded, if I so elect." In this condition the note was negotiated and delivered by Putnam to the plaintiff, who is a bona fide holder thereof for value, and who, at the time of the sale and delivery of the note to him, had no notice that the note, as it was written when indorsed by Baldwin, had been in any respect changed. The court below gave judgment for Baldwin upon the ground that the addition of the words "Payable before maturity," etc., was a material alteration of his contract of indorsement and discharged him from liability thereon.

This is not a case in which, whether the alteration be material or immaterial, the maker's contract is invalidated; for the alleged alteration was made by the maker, and before the note was put into circulation. Whether the addition of the words mentioned is, as to the plaintiff, to be regarded as an alteration at all in any legal sense; whether, under the facts appearing, Putnam, the maker, may not, as respects the plaintiff, properly be regarded as an agent of Baldwin, the indorser, in adding to the note; or, if Putnam be not such agent, strictly speaking, whether Baldwin may not be held responsible, upon the principle that when one of two innocent persons must bear a loss occasioned by the act of a third person it must fall on him who employed such person, and furnished or intrusted him with the means of consummating the injurious act, — are important questions, the bare statement of which suggests many difficulties. See Young v. Grote, 4 Bing. 253; Putnam v. Sullivan, 4 Mass. 45; Britton v. Dierker, 46 Mo. 591; Waterman v. Vose, 43 Me. 504; Wood v. Steele, 6 Wall. 80; Wade v. Withington, 1 Allen, 562; Woodworth v. Bank of America, 19 Johns. 393, Op. Chancellor Kent. But as the satisfactory solution of these questions might require some additional findings of fact, and as they were not very thoroughly discussed at bar, we forbear to consider them at this time.

Admitting, however, that the addition mentioned is an alteration of the note as to Baldwin, his contract of indorsement is not thereby invalidated unless the alteration is material. 2 Parsons, Bills & N. 564, 582; 2 Parsons, Cont. 720; 1 Smith, Lead. Cas. 966. But to be material, the alteration must in some way affect the rights or obligations of Baldwin under his contract of indorsement. His rights are at the maturity of the note to have the same duly presented to the maker, payment of the same duly demanded, and, in case of non-payment, to receive due notice thereof; and, if he is himself compelled to pay the note, he has a right of recourse over against the maker. His obligation is to pay the note, if, upon proper presentation and demand, the same is not paid by the maker, and notice of non-payment is duly given to himself. It is hardly necessary to say that these rights and obligations are not in any way changed or affected by the so-called alteration, and we are therefore of opinion that it cannot be held to be material.

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10 cases
  • Farwell v. St. Paul Trust Company
    • United States
    • Minnesota Supreme Court
    • March 9, 1891
    ...a time thereafter not definitely fixed in the findings. Michaud v. Lagarde, 4 Minn. 21, (43;) Hart v. Eastman, 7 Minn. 50, (74;) Herrick v. Baldwin, 17 Minn. 183, Story, Prom. Notes, §§ 230, 286; 1 Daniel, Neg. Inst. 580. See, also, Salisbury v. Bartleson, 39 Minn. 365, (40 N.W. 265,) where......
  • Schlozer v. Heckeroth
    • United States
    • Minnesota Supreme Court
    • June 8, 1928
    ... ...           An ... alteration is not deemed material unless it affects the ... rights or obligations of the party asserting it. Herrick ... v. Baldwin, 17 Minn. 183 (209), 10 Am. R. 161; ... Commrs. of Renville County v. Gray, 61 Minn. 242, 63 ... N.W. 635. The obligors upon this ... ...
  • Farwell v. St. Paul Trust Co.
    • United States
    • Minnesota Supreme Court
    • March 9, 1891
    ...a time thereafter not definitely fixed in the findings. Michaud v. Lagarde, 4 Minn. 21, (43;) Hart v. Eastman, 7 Minn. 50, (74;) Herrick v. Baldwin, 17 Minn. 183, (209;) Story, Prom. Notes, §§ 230, 286; 1 Daniel, Neg. Inst. 580. See, also, Salisbury v. Bartleson, 39 Minn. 365, (40 N. W. Rep......
  • McConnon & Co. v. Hovland
    • United States
    • Minnesota Supreme Court
    • June 29, 1923
    ... ... It was not ... changing the effect of the instrument, it was simply ... completing it, under an implied authority in appellant ... Herrick v. Baldwin, 17 Minn. 183 (209), 10 Am. Rep ... 161; State v. Young, 23 Minn. 551; Board of Co ... Commrs. of Renville County v. Gray, 61 Minn ... ...
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