THIS was an appeal from the circuit court of the county of Alexandria, in the district of Columbia. The appellant was complainant in that court. The case was argued by Mr Swann and Mr Jones for the appellant, and by Mr Taylor for the appellee:
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mr Justice Baldwin delivered the opinion of the Court.
This suit was brought on the chancery side of the circuit court of the district of Columbia for the county of Alexandria, by the appellant (complainant) against the appellee (respondent). The object professed is to obtain a settlement of accounts arising out of a partnership charged to have existed between the complainant and respondent and one Ferdinand Marsteller.
The bill charges, that in 1814, a contract was entered into between the complainant and the government of the United States for rebuilding fort Washington.
That when the contract was made, it was agreed between the respondent, Ferdinand Marsteller, and the complainant, that they should share the profits of the contract–this is, that each of them should receive one third part of the profits. That the respondent was to furnish the concern with such merchandize as might be necessary, disburse the funds of the concern, and keep the accounts relative to such disbursements; that the complainant was to superintend the work, and Marsteller to drawing and furnishing the money for carrying it on.
The bill charges that under this arrangement the work was commenced and finished, and that on its measurement it was supposed a profit had been made of about for thousand five hundred dollars; and that accordingly one thousand five hundred dollars were advanced to the respondent as his share of the profits.
That, about the close of the business, it was discovered that Marsteller had committed great frauds on the government; and that the complainant gave information of these frauds to the department of war, in consequence of which Marsteller was disgraced, and soon after died insolvent.
That, soon after this development, the respondent instituted suit against the complainant for a balance claimed on his store account, and for money disbursed by him for complainant. That the complainant instituted a cross action against the respondent; and both suits were, by mutual consent, referred to arbitrators.
That when the reference was made, the complainant expected that the arbitrators would go into a full examination of the partnership accounts in relation to the government contract, as well as in relation to the individual accounts of the parties. But that when the arbitrators proceeded to act, they declined looking on the transaction as a partnership one, and thought themselves bound to consider the accounts as unconnected with that concern; and finally awarded against the complainant four thousand four hundred and ninety-seven dollars and forty-two cents, in which was included an allowance of one thousand five hundred dollars for Coleman's share of the profits of the contract, and one thousand five hundred and thirty-four dollars for commissions in disbursing the money received from the government.
That the copartnership has been always indebted to the complainant on account of the contract with government.
The bill then proceeds to some details respecting the accounts, at this time not important, and prays for an account and general relief.
The answer admits that the complainant in 1814 entered into a contract with Ferdinand Marsteller, agent for the United States, for the rebuilding of fort Washington; with the terms and conditions of which contract the respondent had no concern.
That it being necessary to have an agent in Alexandria to procure supplies for carrying the contract into effect, and as Marsteller had expressed a wish that the money should be disbursed through the agency of the respondent, and that the respondent should keep the accounts between Marsteller and the complainant; the latter agreed that the respondent should act as agent, and in the first instance offered him as a compensation, a share of the profits, and the complainant afterwards offered him a commission of five per cent. on the disbursements. That the respondent accepted of the latter offer, and under it entered on the agency, after having refused the first.
The respondent denies that he was in any shape interested as a copartner with the complainant and Marsteller, or with either of them, in relation to the said contract, or that he ever received any share of the profits; but admits the charge of a commission of five per cent. on the money disbursed by him.
He admits that the complainant having refused to pay the balance due from him to the respondent on private account, he did institute suit against him. That a cross suit was brought by the complainant against the respondent. That both suits were referred to arbitrators, who awarded in the respondent's favour the sum of four thousand four hundred and ninety-seven dollars and forty-two cents. That on the investigation before the arbitrators, the complainant set ...