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Nashville, C. & St. L. R. Co. v. United States

Nashville, C. & St. L. R. Co. v. United States, , was a case involving a contract in writing made September 11, 1872, between the petitioner and the Board of Public Works of the District of Columbia by which he agreed to furnish materials and labor, and in a good and substantial manner to grade and gravel Fourteenth Street East between B Street South and Boundary, in the City of Washington, at prices specified, and, among other things, agreed to punctually pay in cash the workmen employed by him, and the Board of Public Works agreed to pay him, in lawful money of the United States, the amount which might be found to be due to him from time to time according to the contract. He performed his part of the contract according to its terms. Upon measurements made and accounts stated during the progress and at the completion of the work, there appeared to be due to him ,364.75 (which, by a mistake of addition unknown to either party, was 0 too much), for which he received certificates of the Auditor of the Board of Public Works, issued in accordance with the usual course of business as conducted by that Board with its creditors, in different sums.

The nature and history of the auditor's certificates and of the so-called sewer certificates and other securities issued by the District of Columbia, as well as the legislation of Congress relating to them, have been fully stated in opinions delivered by the Court of Claims in other cases, and need not be recapitulated. It was enough for the purposes of this case to observe that the sewer certificates and other interest-bearing securities of the district were negotiable instruments, and that the auditor's certificates were not negotiable, but were merely evidence of the debt of the district to the claimant under its contract with him.

If he had kept the auditor's certificates, the evidence would have allowed him to recover the full amount of the debt from the district.

But the facts found show that he has so dealt with these certificates as to prevent him from maintaining this suit. The amount of some of the certificates he has been paid by the District in money. Others of the certificates he has sold and assigned for value, and thereby transferred the equitable title in them to the assignee, and authorized him to receive payment of their amount from the District, and the payment of that amount in full by the District to the assignee is a discharge of so much of its debt to the claimant. Cowdrey v. Vandenburgh, 101 U. S. 572; Foss v. Lowell Savings Bank, 111 Mass. 28. The remaining certificates he has exchanged with the District for an equal amount of its negotiable securities, payable on time, with interest, and he has since sold those securities for their value in the market. The District is liable to the purchaser either upon those securities themselves or upon the other bonds since taken by him instead of some of them, and cannot be also held liable to the original creditor for the same amount or any part thereof. Harris v. Johnston, 3 Cranch 311; Emblin v. Dartnell, 1 D. & L. 591.

The conversation which was found to have taken place between the treasurer of the District and the claimant before he sold the negotiable securities has no tendency to prove any authority or any intention of the treasurer to make a new or different contract in behalf of the District.

Judgment was affirmed.



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