Searight v. Calbraith

21 F. Cas. 927 (1796)

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Searight v. Calbraith

United States Circuit Court for the District of Pennsylvania
21 F. Cas. 927 (1796)

JC

Facts

In February 1792, Searight (plaintiff) sold Calbraith & Co. (defendant) a bill of exchange, a negotiable instrument that entitled the bearer to payment of a certain sum of money, for 150,000 livres tournois (the French unit of currency). The bill was payable in Paris six months from the date of sale. Calbraith promised to pay £10,625 to Searight in Pennsylvania currency for the bill of exchange on or after July 1, 1792. When the agent of Calbraith presented the bill for payment, the bank that was to pay the bill tried to pay the agent in assignants, a French paper currency then construed as legal tender under French law for payment of debts. The agent refused to accept the assignants, saying that the agent would only take silver and gold French currency. Calbraith had not paid Searight for the bill of exchange and refused to do so. Searight sued Calbraith for failing to pay the funds in question, and Calbraith then countersued Searight for damages because the French bank refused to pay in specie. No contractual term governed the currency the French bank would pay.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Iredell, J.)

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