Hoover v. Peters

Decision Date11 January 1869
Citation18 Mich. 51
CourtMichigan Supreme Court
PartiesEli H. Hoover et al. v. Jacob Peters

Heard January 6, 1869 [Syllabus Material]

Error to Bay circuit.

This was an action to recover the balance of the purchase price of certain pork sold by plaintiff to defendant.

The defense claimed that the pork was purchased to be used as food, and that the plaintiff so understood it, and that it proved unfit for such purpose.

On the trial they asked the court to charge the jury that if the facts were as claimed, that there was an implied warranty that the pork was sound, and fit for the purpose of food; but which was refused.

Judgment was rendered for plaintiff.

Judgement reversed, and a new trial granted.

A. C Maxwell, for plaintiff in error:

The record in this case presents the following:

1. When a farmer sells provisions to a consumer directly for food, is there an implied warranty that the goods are wholesome and fit for that purpose?

That such warranty exists has been held by repeated adjudications in this country: 12 Johns. 468; 2 Chandler, Wis., 37; 3 Blackf. 165; 17 Wend. 267.

When a vendee buys for a particular purpose, he buys with an implied warranty of the fitness of the thing for the purpose intended, whether the article is for food or not: 6 Taunt. 108; 4 Barn. and Cress., 108; 5 Bing. 533; 3 Man. and Grang., 818; 8 Blackf. 317; 2 Man. and Grang., 279; 3 Id. 858; 5 Q. B., 288. Similar cases: 4 Gilman 69; 1 Sm. and M., 381; 17 Wend. 269; 18 Id. 449; 10 Exchq. 342; 1 Williams 227; 11 Ired. L., 166.

If the rule is well settled, that when a persons buys goods for a particular purpose, that there is an implied warranty that the goods are fit for such purpose, why should not such rule extend to provisions? The reasons that may be alleged in favor of such rule are certainly strong. The security of human life is the greatest care of the law. The necessities of life are such as to make it important that food should be wholesome and unadulterated; and the same principle that holds a physician or apothecary responsible for reasonable care might well sustain this rule of law.

2. What is a warranty, is purely a question of law. And the court must decide it. It is a contract in every respect, as fully as any other contract known in the law: 22 Pick. 48; 1 Vesey, Sr., 95; 14 Barb. 66; 1 Young 407; 2 Kent's Com., 482, et seq.; 1 Smith's Lead. Cas., 77, 207.

Whether a warranty has been proved in a particular case, is a question of fact for the jury; but what facts, if proved, will make a contract of warranty, is a question of law.

In the facts shown in this case, the agent of the plaintiff (below) did make an express warranty of the property, as a matter of law.

It was a representation of an important fact at the time of sale, and during the negotiation, to purchase it.

It clearly appears that the goods were purchased for a particular purpose, of which the plaintiff was informed.

Grier & McDonell, for defendant in error:

With regard to the quality or goodness of articles sold, the seller is not bound to answer, unless he expressly warranted the goods to be sound and good, or made a fraudulent representation or concealment. The buyer is required to attend to those qualities of the article he buys, which are supposed to be within the reach of his observations and judgment; and this doctrine is well established in the English and American law: 2 Kent Com., 478 (10th ed.); 20 Johns. 196; 13 Ohio 502; 39 Penn. St., 88; 42 N. H., 165; 23 Barb. (N. Y.), 521; 29 Me. 508.

Those cases which "trench upon the plain maxim of the common law," caveat emptor, are unsound and not sustained by the weight of authorities: 2 Kent Com. (10th ed.), 480, note; 17 Wend. 267; 1 Denio 378; 11 Ired. 166; 9 Watts 55; 18 Wend. 428.

And the exception to the general rule, as to provisions, is confined to cases where the provisions are sold by common dealers for immediate consumption and domestic use: 1 Denio 378; 16 M. and W., 644; 10 Mass. 197; 3 E. D. Smith N. Y., 324; 18 Wend. 428.

It is not implied in every sale of provisions that they are wholesome, any more than it is in sales of other articles where proof of a distinct affirmation is requisite. An artifice must be proved to entitle the sufferer to this remedy, equivalent to a remedy on an express warranty, as well in the case of provisions as in any other case. The difference is that, in the case of provisions, the artifice is proved, when a victualer sells meat to his customers at a sound price, which at the time was stale or defective, or unwholesome, from the state in which the animal died. For, in the nature of the bargain, the very offer to sell is a representation or affirmation of the soundness of the article, when nothing to the contrary is expressly stated; and his knowledge of the falsehood in this representation is also to be presumed from the nature and duties of his calling and trade: 10 Mass. 197; 7 Hurl. and Nor., 586.

But in this case the seller was not a victualer. He was no better qualified to judge of their wholesomeness than the buyer. There was nothing about his calling or experience upon which the public had a right to rely as a warranty of the soundness of his commodities. Where relations of trust and confidence exist, the law applies strict rules, and will regard that as fraudulent which, in other relations, would not be so regarded. It is upon an analogous principle that a common dealer of provisions is held to impliedly warrant the soundness of his goods. To judge of the soundness of his goods is his business-his study. He is presumed to have superior facilities for judging of the quality of provisions, and the public places confidence in his capacity and experience. But it would not only be unreasonable, but unjust, to apply such a rule of accountability to one who sells a load of provisions in bulk in open market. Such a sale does not, and should not, constitute an exception to the common law rule of caveat emptor.

Campbell, J. Cooley, Ch. J. and Graves, J., Christiancy, J. concurred.


Campbell J.:

To a suit for the balance remaining unpaid on the price of the carcasses of three hogs sold by Peters to defendants below to be used as food in their lumber camp, they set up, by way of recoupment, that one of the carcasses was unsound and unfit for use. The...

To continue reading

Request your trial
31 cases
  • Bowman Biscuit Co. of Tex. v. Hines, A-3298
    • United States
    • Texas Supreme Court
    • July 16, 1952
    ...citing Van Bracklin v. Fonda, 12 Johns. (N.Y.) 468, 7 Am.Dec. 339; Race v. Krum, 222 N.Y. 410, 118 N.E. 853, L.R.A.1918F, 1172; Hoover v. Peters, 18 Mich. 51; Wiedeman v. Keller, 171 Ill. 93, 49 N.E. 210. However, an examination will reveal that each of these cases involved either a situati......
  • Jacob E. Decker & Sons, Inc. v. Capps
    • United States
    • Texas Supreme Court
    • July 22, 1942
    ...in order to discourage the sale of unwholesome food. The Supreme Court of Michigan has stated the reason for the rule in Hoover v. Peters, 1869, 18 Mich. 51, as "And where articles of food are bought for consumption, and the vendor sells them for that express purpose, the consequences of un......
  • Griggs Canning Co. v. Josey, 7733.
    • United States
    • Texas Supreme Court
    • July 22, 1942
    ...seller. Van Bracklin v. Fonda, 12 Johns., N.Y., 468, 7 Am.Dec. 339; Race v. Krum, 222 N.Y. 410, 118 N.E. 853, L.R.A.1918F, 1172; Hoover v. Peters, 18 Mich. 51; Wiedeman v. Keller, 171 Ill. 93, 49 N.E. 210. See, also, Perkins, "Unwholesome Food as a Source of Liability," 5 Iowa Law Bulletin,......
  • Fantroy v. Schirmer
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • June 7, 1927
    ...by a retail dealer of articles of food for immediate use there is an implied warranty that the same is fit for human consumption. Hoover v. Peters, 18 Mich. 51; Sinclair v. Hathaway, 57 Mich, 60 [23 N. W. 459, 58 Am. Rep. 327]; Winsor v. Lombard, 18 Pick. [Mass.] 61; Farrell v. Manhattan Ma......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT