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Cowen v. Pressprich

New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division
194 N.Y.S. 926 (1922)


The facts of this case are provided in Cowen v. Pressprich, 192 N.Y.S. 242 (1922). Stock-exchange brokers (sellers) (plaintiffs) agreed to sell and deliver an Oregon Short Line Railroad bond to another group of brokers (buyers) (defendants). A third party provided the sellers with an Oregon & California Railroad bond by mistake. The sellers did not realize the mistake and used a messenger to deliver the bond to the buyers’ office. The office’s delivery room contained a slot and a closed window. The buyers’ employees were located in a room adjacent to the slot and window. After placing the bond in the slot, the sellers’ messenger quickly left the building. One of the buyers’ employees realized that the bond had been delivered by mistake. The employee opened the window and handed the bond to an unidentified messenger, mistakenly believing him to be the sellers’ messenger. The unidentified messenger took the bond, but never returned it to the sellers. The sellers sued the buyers for conversion, claiming that the buyers had an absolute duty to redeliver the bond. A lower court ruled for the sellers. The New York Supreme Court Appellate Term affirmed the judgment, with $25 in costs. The New York Supreme Court Appellate Division reversed the lower court, based on the dissenting opinion of Justice Lehman in Cowen.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Lehman, J.)

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