Trollinger v. Fleer

Decision Date15 November 1911
Citation72 S.E. 795,157 N.C. 81
CourtNorth Carolina Supreme Court

Appeal from Superior Court, Davidson County; Lyon, Judge.

Action by R. H. Trollinger against F. H. Fleer. From a judgment for plaintiff, defendant appeals. Affirmed.

Evidence held to sustain a finding that defendant ratified the act of his brother in employing plaintiff to act as farm manager.

This action was brought by the plaintiff for loss of wages for himself and his two sons for 12 months, alleging that he made a contract to work for the defendant on his farm near Thomasville for one year from July 1, 1909, at the price of $1,200 and $1 per day for each of plaintiff's sons, said payments to be made monthly, and also for expenses of moving his furniture to the defendant's farm, and for loss incurred in giving up his position, which he claimed he filled, with some other parties. The defendant denied that he had ever hired either the plaintiff or his sons, and alleged that the proposal to hire them was altogether tentative, and was dependent upon his interview with the plaintiff at the defendant's farm, as appears in the last clause in defendant's letter to plaintiff, dated June 22, 1909, in which he says: "I will look for an immediate reply, after receiving which, I will make it convenient to meet you at an early date." The defendant further alleges that the plaintiff had made certain representations as to his qualifications to do the work required with machinery, which he ascertained were not true, as he could not operate the machinery with which the defendant expected to farm. The defendant further denied that he had made any contract for the hire of the boys, but the court treated the hiring of the plaintiff and the two sons as an entire contract. The plaintiff and his sons were discharged by the defendant and, they allege, without just cause or excuse. The defendant contended at the trial that there was no sufficient contract of hiring between the plaintiff and himself, and that his brother, M. L. Fleer, who actually hired the plaintiff and his boys upon the terms mentioned, had no authority from him to do so. This requires a summary of the testimony. On June 7, 1909, plaintiff mailed to the defendant, from Seneca, S. C., a letter, in which he proposed to hire himself as manager, and his boys as laborers, to the defendant, who owned and cultivated a farm in Davidson county, making a formal application for the positions. Defendant answered, June 16, 1909, as follows: "I believe you would be the man for the job, and if you will tell me what pay you expect I am willing to take the matter into consideration. Figure upon straight wages by the month or year, as I do not care to share crops. Your reply should be sent to my Phila. office to reach me promptly. Use the enclosed envelope." To this letter plaintiff replied proposing to hire himself, as manager, at $1,200 a year, and each of his boys at the wages of "a common day laborer." Defendant acknowledged the receipt of this letter. June 22, 1909, in a letter of that date, and then proceeded as follows: "I am very favorably impressed with the statement you make regarding your ability, and I have no doubt that if I were to engage you, we could get along nicely. The only house I have in which it would be practical for you to live, in order to have the place under supervision, is the tenant house now occupied by a colored man. This only has four rooms, but could be enlarged by a second story, whereby it would be large enough to accommodate you. I should like to send the present tenant of this house away not later than July 1st, if you could be ready to move in by that time with only part of your family. I would then immediately start to erect an addition large enough to accommodate you all. It would require one or two of your boys to take care of the work around the barn and place, and they should come along with you at once. The wages for common farm labor around our parts is $1.00 per day, and your boys will have to start at that price. If you, yourself, could start in on July 1st, I should like to have an immediate answer by telegraph, in order to give the colored man now in the tenant house a chance to look for work elsewhere, and make other necessary arrangements." In answer to this letter plaintiff wired defendant, June 28th, as follows: "Will start to work July 1, with one boy. Will be here to-day." Plaintiff testified: That on June 30, 1909, he went to the farm with one of his sons for the purpose of making preparations to move into the house with his family and to do the work assigned to them. He found there M. L Fleer, defendant's brother, who had entire charge and control of the farm, defendant being absent and at his home in Philadelphia, Pa. That M. L. Fleer directed the work on the farm, kept the time of the employés, and paid them their wages, issuing checks for F. H. Fleer. He then stated that M. L. Fleer told him "to move into the house," and also put him and his son to work. When he first met M. L. Fleer at the farm, he said to plaintiff: "This is Mr. Trollinger, is it?" to which the plaintiff replied, "Yes." He then said: "I was looking for you. Had a letter from Brother that you would be here to-morrow to go to work; and where are the boys?" to which witness replied that he had not agreed to bring but one, and he was with him. M. L. Fleer also told him that he had the house cleaned up ready for him to move into, but he was to have two boys. Witness told him he would furnish the other one later, that he had wired to the defendant that he would bring one, and he had him with him. Plaintiff testified further as follows: He had worked nine days, and was taken sick and had to go to bed, but before he went to bed the defendant came, but he had no conversation with him except with regard to work; talked to him frequently about the work; was working just as a hand with the rest. The defendant was on the farm only two days. The second day he was there the plaintiff went over to see him, and spoke to him, and the defendant said, "I am afraid I have made a mistake and hired a sick man," to which the plaintiff replied, "Yes, I am sick. I guess I will get well or die off your hands." That the defendant then excused himself, and he has never spoken to him since. He left for Philadelphia that night. There was evidence tending to contradict the plaintiff's proof as to the authority of M. L. Fleer to make the contract, and as to what the defendant had said to the plaintiff when he was sick; the general trend of the evidence on the part of the defendant being to show that no contract was made...

To continue reading

Request your trial

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