VIOLETT V. PATTON, 9 U. S. 142 (1809)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Violett v. Patton, 9 U.S. 5 Cranch 142 142 (1809)

Violett v. Patton

9 U.S. (5 Cranch) 142


To constitute a consideration, it is not necessary that a benefit should accrue to the promisor. It is sufficient that something valuable flows from the promisee, and that the promise is the inducement to the transaction.

A blank endorsement upon a blank piece of paper with intent to give a person credit is in effect a letter of credit. And if a promissory note be afterwards written on the paper, the endorser cannot object that the note was written after the endorsement.

The English statute of frauds requires that the agreement should be in writing; the statute of Virginia requires only the promise to be in writing.

Before resort can be had to the endorser of a promissory note in Virginia, the maker must be sued, if solvent; but his insolvency renders a suit against him unnecessary.

It is a question to be left to the jury whether a suit against the maker would have produced the money.

Error to the Circuit Court for the District of Columbia sitting at Alexandria to reverse a judgment in an action of assumpsit brought by Patton, as endorsee of a promissory note against Violett, the endorser. The note was made by Brooke, payable, in 30 days, at the Bank of Alexandria to the order of Violett and by him endorsed to Patton.

The declaration had two counts. The first was upon the endorsement, and stated the making of the note by Brooke, for value received; the assignment by endorsement to Patton (but did not state that the assignment was for value received), by means whereof, and of the statute of Virginia, Patton had a right to demand and receive the money from Brooke; the demand of payment from Brooke; his refusal and insolvency at the time of demand; and notice thereof to Violett, whereby he became liable and in consideration thereof promised to pay, &c.

The other count was for money had and received.

At the trial of the general issue, the defendant below took two bills of exceptions.

The first was to the following opinions and instructions of the court to the jury, viz.:

"That if the jury should be satisfied by the evidence that the defendant endorsed the note with intent to give a credit for the amount thereof to Brooke with the plaintiff, and that the body of the note was filled up by the plaintiff before it was signed by Brooke, and that the plaintiff, upon the faith of the note so drawn and endorsed, gave credit to Brooke to the amount thereof, the circumstance

Page 9 U. S. 143

of such endorsement being made before the body of the note was filled up by the plaintiff and signed by Brooke, is no bar to the plaintiff's recovery in this action; although the jury should be satisfied that no other value was received by the defendant for his endorsement than the credit thus given by the plaintiff to Brooke. And further that the endorsement by the defendant with the intent aforesaid, if proved, authorized Brooke to make the note to the plaintiff in the form and manner in which it appears upon the face of it to be made, and that the circumstance that the body of the note was in the handwriting of the plaintiff was wholly immaterial to the present issue."

The second bill of exceptions stated that the defendant prayed the court to instruct the jury that if it should be satisfied by the evidence that Brooke, at the time the note became payable, or at any time previous to the commencement of this action, had property sufficient to pay the debt claimed by the plaintiff, and that both he and the plaintiff lived in the Town of Alexandria at the time the note became due, and that plaintiff brought no suit against Brooke to recover the amount of the note, but suffered him to leave the District of Columbia without suing him, or if the jury should be satisfied that the plaintiff and Brooke have, since the note became due, both lived in the County of Fairfax, in Virginia, and have continued to reside there until the bringing of the present suit, and that the plaintiff has not brought suit against Brooke in Virginia, then the defendant is not liable in this action. But the court refused to give those instructions as prayed.

Page 9 U. S. 148

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