Stevens v. Pierce

Decision Date27 February 1890
Citation151 Mass. 207,23 N.E. 1006
CourtUnited States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts Supreme Court

J.W. Hubbard, for plaintiff.

J.H Fiske and Ranney & Clarke, for defendant.



The plaintiff occupied the defendant's house under a written lease which contained no covenants as to its condition. There was evidence that it was in a bad sanitary condition, and that the plaintiff and his family were made sick and obliged to remove from it on that account. This action is brought in contract to recover the amount paid as rent for the property and various sums expended in the care of the premises, in making repairs, and in removing to and from the house, and also compensation for labor of the plaintiff and his wife in taking possession of the real estate, and using it under the lease.

It is well settled that there is no implied covenant in a lease of this kind that the premises are fit for habitation. The doctrine caveat emptor applies, and the rule is the same in reference to a lease of a dwelling-house as to a conveyance of real estate of any other kind. Foster v. Peyser, 9 Cush. 242; Bowe v. Hunking, 135 Mass. 380; Cowen v. Sunderland, 145 Mass. 363, 14 N.E. 117. The plaintiff, therefore, has no cause of action growing out of the contract under which he held the premises. Nor can he, for the purpose of claiming damages for a breach of the contract, prove that the defendant represented to him when he leased him the house that it was in a good sanitary condition. Such evidence is incompetent, as tending to vary and enlarge the written contract. Dutton v. Gerrish, 9 Cush. 89.

If a wrong was done the plaintiff, such as he alleges, his only remedy was in tort for fraud and deceit in inducing him to take the lease, or for negligence in failing to inform him, if by reason of a concealed defect which could not readily be discovered, and which was known to the defendant and unknown to him, the house was dangerous to those who might occupy it. Minor v. Sharon, 112 Mass. 477; Bowe v. Hunking, Cowen v. Sunderland, ubi supra; Cutter v. Hamlen, 147 Mass. 471, 18 N.E. 397. The plaintiff has already brought a suit and recovered a judgment upon this cause of action, and if at the trial of that case he failed to show all the damages that he suffered, he cannot now recover them in an action of contract.

According to the account annexed to his declaration, all that he paid out was paid as lessee, in pursuance of the contract between him and the defendant. It is only upon a rescission of the contract that a cause of action would arise in his favor for any part of it. In many cases of fraud, a contract may be rescinded by the party defrauded,...

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31 cases
  • Jack Spring, Inc. v. Little
    • United States
    • Illinois Supreme Court
    • January 28, 1972
    ...does not impliedly agree that it is fit for habitation. Dutton v. Gerrish, 9 Cush. 89; Foster v. Peyser, 9 Cush. 242; Stevens v. Pierce, 151 Mass. 207, 23 N.E. 1006; Sutton v. Temple, 12 M. & W. 52; Hart v. Windsor, 12 M. & W. 68. In the absence of fraud or a covenant, the purchaser of real......
  • Syme-Eagle & Co. v. Joplin Grocer Co.
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • March 25, 1921
  • Bernard v. Fisher
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court
    • March 29, 1918
    ...Cole v. Smith, 26 Colo. 506, 511, 58 P. 1086, 1087; Krag-Reynolds Co. v. Oder, 21 Ind.App. 333, 336, 52 N.E. 458, 459; Stevens v. Pierce, 151 Mass. 207, 23 N.E. 1006; Babcock v. Farwell, 245 Ill. 14, 137 Am. St. 301, 19 Ann. Cas. 74, 91 N.E. 683, 692; Anderson v. Chicago Trust & Savings Ban......
  • Amalgamated Sugar Co. v. Murdock
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court
    • April 26, 1928
    ...and lease contracts. (Nally v. Long, 71 Md. 585, 17 Am. St. 547, 18 A. 811; Baker v. Flick, 200 Pa. 13, 49 A. 349; Stevens v. Pierce, 151 Mass. 207, 23 N.E. 1006; v. Steward, 21 Mont. 515, 55 P. 29, 43 L. R. A. 125.) TAYLOR, J. Budge, Givens and T. Bailey Lee, JJ., concur. OPINION TAYLOR, J......
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