CUNNINGHAM V. SPRINGER, 204 U. S. 647 (1907)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Cunningham v. Springer, 204 U.S. 647 (1907)

Cunningham v. Springer

No. 146

Argued January 10, 1907

Decided February 25, 1907

204 U.S. 647


The excepting party should make it manifest that an error prejudicial to him has occurred in the trial in order to justify an appellate court in disturbing the verdict.

Where defendants deny liability for services rendered by plaintiff on the ground that the amount was fixed by contract and paid, and the jury, after instructions to find only for plaintiff in case there was no contract and the value of services exceeded the amount paid, find a verdict for defendant, all expert testimony as to the value of plaintiff's services based on the assumption that there was no contract becomes immaterial, and as, in view of the verdict, adverse rulings in regard to its admission were not prejudicial to the plaintiff, even if error, they become immaterial, and do not afford grounds for reversal.

Where plaintiff did not object below to instructions of the judge limiting expert evidence, he cannot claim on appeal that it was admissible for a broader purpose.

While §§ 2992, 3022 of the Statutes of New Mexico provide that all instructions to the jury must be in writing and that the jury may take the instructions with them, this Court will not presume, in the absence of the record's affirmatively disclosing such a fact, that the jury did not take with it the written instructions as finally corrected by the court.

A judge is not bound to charge the jury in the exact words proposed to him by counsel, and there is no error if he instructs the jury correctly and in substance covers the relevant rules of law proposed by counsel.

The plaintiffs brought an action in the district court in the Territory of New Mexico, in which they sought to recover $75,000 as the reasonable value of the services of the plaintiff Jones, as an attorney at law, rendered to the defendants at their request. For answer, the defendants pleaded a general denial and payment. The jury returned a verdict for the defendants. The plaintiffs alleged exceptions to certain rulings of the judge who presided at the trial, which were overruled by the supreme court of the territory, and are here

Page 204 U. S. 648

upon writ of error to that court. The exceptions are stated in the opinion.

Page 204 U. S. 651

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