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Evra Corp. v. Swiss Bank Corp.

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
673 F.2d 951 (1982)


Hyman-Michaels Co. (HM) entered into a two-year contract in 1972 with a Brazilian corporation to supply steel scrap. HM later changed its name to Evra Corp. (plaintiff). In June 1972, HM chartered a ship to carry the steel scrap to Brazil. The charter agreement was for one year with an option to renew for a second year. The agreement provided for a fixed daily rate, which had to be paid in advance in semi-monthly installments. If payment was not made on the due date, the owner of the ship was entitled to cancel the agreement. HM typically made the installment payments by wire transfer to the Swiss Bank Corp. (the Bank) (defendant). By October 1972, charter rates had risen significantly, which made the charter agreement favorable for HM. The October payment was not made using the typical wire transfer. Instead, HM mailed the payment on October 25, 1972, which was one day before the payment was due. The payment did not reach the ship’s owner by October 30, and the owner declared that the agreement was canceled. The dispute was arbitrated, and the arbitration panel determined that the agreement could not be canceled because HM was not given advance notice of the breach. Subsequent payments were made using the wire transfer method until April 1973. HM instructed its bank to transfer the payment on April 25, 1973, again one day prior to the due date. The wire transfer was made by HM’s bank, but it was not processed by the Bank, either because the transfer was lost or because the Bank’s telex machine was out of paper. On April 27, the ship’s owner notified HM that payment had not been received and that the agreement was canceled. HM instructed its bank to continue attempting to make payment to the Bank. Payment was ultimately received by the ship’s owner on May 2 but was refused. This dispute was arbitrated, and the arbitration panel upheld the cancellation of the agreement. HM sued the Bank for the increased cost of chartering a new ship at an increased rate. The trial court entered judgment in favor of HM for approximately $2.1 million. The Bank appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Posner, J.)

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