Huffman v. Shevlin, 9415

Decision Date15 November 1955
Docket NumberNo. 9415,9415
Citation76 S.D. 84,72 N.W.2d 852
PartiesR. E. HUFFMAN, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. John B. SHEVLIN, Defendant and Appellant.
CourtSouth Dakota Supreme Court

Vernon Williams and Elmer Thurow, Aberdeen, for defendant and appellant.

Hyde & Lockington and Philo Hall, Aberdeen, for plaintiff and respondent.

RENTTO, Judge.

Plaintiff was the owner of various articles of farm machinery and equipment, and a supply of parts therefor, acquired by him in the operation of a farm equipment business at Aberdeen, South Dakota. On November 1, 1949 as party of the first part he entered into the following agreement with the defendant, who was then operating a delivery service in Aberdeen, as party of the second part.

'Witnesseth, That whereas the parties hereto entered into an agreement dated the first day of November, 1949 by the terms of which they agreed to engage the business of buying and selling farm implements, machinery and equipment and to carry on a general farm implement business in the City of Aberdeen, South Dakota, and among other machinery and equipment, to handle Ferguson tractors, farm implements and equipment and that said business should be carried on under the name of John B. Shevlin Implement Company.

'It Is Further Agreed that the party of the second part agrees to purchase the interest of the party of the first part of said business by paying the party of the first part any amount he can on the first of any month, plus six (6%) per cent interest from November 1, 1949, payable monthly, and when machinery or merchandise is sold, that he shall pay to the party of the first part the cost of such machinery and merchandise delivered at Aberdeen, South Dakota.

'It Is Further Agreed That all farm machinery, merchandise and equipment and the proceeds thereof shall belong to the party of the first part until the party of the second part has paid the full amount of money that the party of the first party has advanced and but (put) in said business, with interest at six (6%) per cent, payable monthly on the same.'

The agreement was drafted by the plaintiff who is neither a lawyer nor one experienced in the drafting of agreements. It is apparent from the record that the parties negotiated for some period of time before this writing was entered into. During the negotiations an inventory was prepared listing all of the property by items. This was acceptable to both parties. After the agreement was entered into all of the farm machinery, equipment, and parts therefor, including the bins in which the parts were kept, were moved to the defendant's place of business. In the course of his business defendant sold many of the items and placed the proceeds of these sales into his firm bank account, which could be drawn on only by the defendant and his bookkeeper. The amounts which plaintiff was to receive on these sales were not paid to him. Defendant purchased and paid for new parts as the same were needed in his business and intermingled these with the old parts perviously obtained from the plaintiff. Six monthly payments of interest under the agreement were paid by defendant. Five or six months after the agreement was entered into a quantity of the equipment taken over from the plaintiff under the agreement was returned to the suppliers and defendant was given credit for it. Shortly before this action was commenced on October 4, 1951 plaintiff permitted defendant to return various items of equipment and credited his account accordingly.

Independent of this agreement the parties entered into another agreement under which plaintiff financed defendant in his purchase of additional equipment by paying to the supplier the invoice price of the equipment as furnished, and taking defendant's notes for the sums so advanced bearing interest at 6%. The present action is in three counts. The first count seeks recovery of the amount due under the agreement of November 1st. The second count involves the promissory notes executed by defendant under the arrangement above described. The third count concerns the sale of a piece of office equipment by plaintiff to defendant. The action was tried to the court without a jury in June 1953. Judgment for plaintiff was entered on all three counts. This appeal concerns only that part of the judgment entered on count one.

As a defense to the first cause of action defendant claimed that he did not buy the items referred to. It was his position that they were delivered to him on a consignment basis and that he was not liable for the unsold items still in his possession. As to the items sold he claimed he was entitled to credits not allowed by plaintiff, including a commission on the sale of parts made by him, and compensation for his work and services in putting the equipment and parts into a salable condition. In its decision the trial court found that the parties entered into a contract of sale; determined the items sold and the price agreed to be paid therefor; disallowed the credits claimed by defendant; and determined the amount due the plaintiff.

We have examined the evidence with care and believe there is ample support therein for the findings of the court. It is true that as to the matters involved in the findings above referred to the evidence is in conflict. It was for the trial judge to resolve those conflicts. We cannot say that the trial court was not justified in accepting plaintiff's version of the transaction nor are we able to say that the evidence clearly preponderates against the findings made. Consequently we may not disturb the court's findings. Bogue v. Clay County, S.D., 60 N.W.2d 218. In addition to the facts above set out the evidence shows that plaintiff was not active in the management of the implement business carried on by defendant. He did not establish any of its policies and did not share in its profit. His only interest in the business was to finance it and get a return of 6% as interest on his investment. The defendant bought all of the new equipment and parts and plaintiff had nothing to do with determining what purchases or sales were to be made. The employees in the business were employees of the defendant.

Appellant in his brief and in argument before this court contends that the agreement...

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27 cases
  • Hisgen v. Hisgen
    • United States
    • South Dakota Supreme Court
    • May 22, 1996
    ...Houser v. Houser, 535 N.W.2d 882, 884 (S.D.1995). In Malcolm v. Malcolm, 365 N.W.2d 863, 865 (S.D.1985) (quoting Huffman v. Shevlin, 76 S.D. 84, 89, 72 N.W.2d 852, 855 (1955)), we set forth the procedure for analyzing a property settlement First, in determining the proper interpretation of ......
  • Weekley v. Weekley, No. 20844
    • United States
    • South Dakota Supreme Court
    • December 29, 1999
    ...Houser v. Houser, 535 N.W.2d 882, 884 (S.D.1995). In Malcolm v. Malcolm, 365 N.W.2d 863, 865 (S.D.1985) (quoting Huffman v. Shevlin, 76 S.D. 84, 89, 72 N.W.2d 852, 855 (1955)), we set forth the procedure for analyzing a property settlement First, in determining the proper interpretation of ......
  • Famous Brands, Inc. v. David Sherman Corp.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Eighth Circuit
    • March 20, 1987 their contemporaneous and subsequent conduct. See Malcolm v. Malcolm, 365 N.W.2d 863, 865 (S.D.1985); Huffman v. Shevlin, 76 S.D. 84, 89, 72 N.W.2d 852, 855 (1955); Janssen v. Muller, 38 S.D. 611, 162 N.W. 393, 394 (1917). 5 To apply this doctrine to the present question of contract form......
  • Jas Enters., Inc. v. BBS Enters., Inc.
    • United States
    • South Dakota Supreme Court
    • July 17, 2013
    ...contracts is that the court must, if possible, ascertain and give effect to the mutual intention of the parties.” Huffman v. Shevlin, 76 S.D. 84, 89, 72 N.W.2d 852, 855 (1955) (citations omitted) (emphasis added). See also Weekley v. Weekley, 1999 S.D. 162, 604 N.W.2d 19;Chord v. Pacer Corp......
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