ST. LOUIS HAY & GRAIN CO. V. UNITED STATES, 191 U. S. 159 (1903)

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U.S. Supreme Court

St. Louis Hay & Grain Co. v. United States, 191 U.S. 159 (1903)

St. Louis Hay and Grain Company v. United States

No 41

Argued October 30, November 2, 1903

Decided November 16, 1903

191 U.S. 159


When a void but not illegal contract of sale has been performed on both sides, the vendor cannot recover on a quantum valebat less the amount already paid.

The United States bought hay for a camp, providing that the quantity bought be decreased at its option not exceeding twenty percent, and if the troops should be wholly or in part withdrawn, the contract should become inoperative to the extent of such reduction, and that deliveries were to begin within five days and proceed at daily rates of at least one sixtieth of the amount, or in such quantities and in such times afterward as might be designated by the quartermaster. The troops were withdrawn, orders were delayed beyond sixty days, and a little less than the whole amount was ordered. The claimant protested and claimed damages, but accepted payment for the whole without reserving any rights at the time.

Held that there was no breach of contract by the United States even if it was still open to the claimants to demand damages in case of a breach and if the setting up of the invalidity of the contract by the United States in answer to the demand would have opened the way to a quantum valebat.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

Page 191 U. S. 161

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