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Bishop v. Eaton
Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
37 N.E. 665 (1894)
Bishop (plaintiff) was a business associate of Frank Eaton’s (defendant) brother, Harry. Bishop and Harry Eaton lived in Illinois, and Frank Eaton lived in Nova Scotia. In December 1886, Frank Eaton wrote a letter to Bishop that said, "If Harry needs more money, let him have it, or assist him to get it, and I will see that it is paid." In 1887, Harry Eaton signed a promissory note for $200 to Stark, payable in one year. Bishop signed the note as surety, relying on Frank Eaton’s letter for reimbursement if called upon to pay the note. Bishop mailed Frank Eaton a letter saying he had signed the note, but Frank Eaton never received it. When payment was due in 1889, Bishop asked Frank Eaton to pay the note. Eaton replied, "Try to get Harry to pay it. If he don't [sic], I will. It shall not cost you anything." In 1891, Bishop paid the note and brought suit against Eaton. The court ruled for Bishop. Eaton appealed the ruling.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Knowlton, J.)
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