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was erroneous for reasons already stated, KNOWLTON, C. J. The first of these suits and an exception having been properly saved is an action of contract, brought to recover the order must be:
the amount of an award of damages, made Exceptions sustained.
by the board of street commissioners of Boston, for taking land for a public street.
Jersey street was laid out and ordered to be (191 Mass. 441)
constructed by an order of the street commis- . ASPINWALL et al. v. CITY OF BOSTON.
sioners, on July 15, 1898, and these plain
tiffs were awarded damages in the sum of TAPPAN et al. v. CITY OF BOSTON et al.
$14,382. On September 22, 1898, the city (Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. entered upon the land for the purpose of conSuffolk. May 15, 1906.)
structing the street, and began the work of 1. MUNICIPAL CORPORATIONS STREET IM filling, which was completed on December
PROVEMENT-AGREEMENT TO DELAY COLLEC-
17, 1898. The street has never been comThough an agreement by property owners
pleted in accordance with the order of the along a proposed street requiring postponement
commissioners. No gutters, cross-walks, or of the collection of betterments and damages un sidewalks have been built, and no macadam til each should be determined and prescribing a set-off of the one against the other is not with
has been put upon the roadway, but the in the language of Rev. Laws, c. 50, § 11, which roadway had been left open and unobstructauthorizes an agreement for the assumption of
ed, and has been used by persons desiring the betterments by the city upon a release of the damages, it resembles such an agreement and
to pass through it, since January 1, 1899. may give such advantages to the city and be so
These facts entitle the plaintiffs to receive free from possible disadvantages as to be bind
the amount of the award, unless their acing, if the authorities in laying out the street, tion is barred by a contract signed by them and afterwards in constructing it, accept the and others on March 25, 1897, as follows: offer, though it was not signed by any one representing the city, and no one had authority
“We, the undersigned, owners of land to make such a contract for the city.
within the lines of a proposed street running 2. SAME-CONTRACT NOT TO ASSESS BETTER at right angles with Boylston street extenMENTS.
sion, at a width of fifty feet, from Audubon Such a contract is distinguishable from an
Road to Brookline avenue, and being, at its agreement not to assess betterments upon a particular estate or to release the owner from
intersection with Boylston street extension, liability for them which can be made by the seven hundred and thirteen feet, more or street commissioners only under and in accord less, distant from Boylston Road, as shown ance with Rev. Laws, c. 50, § 11, as amended by St. 1902, p. 417, c. 503.
on a plan marked 'Back Bay Lands, Pierre 3. SAME-UNREASONABLE DELAY-RIGHT TO
Humbert, Jr., City Surveyor, April 10, 1894.' COLLECT DAMAGES.
on file in the office of the city engineer of An agreement by property owners along a said city, in consideration of the immediate proposed street in consideration of the im
laying out and construction of said proposed mediate construction of the same, and of any assessment being delayed until damages caused
street at the width of fifty feet, under the to them should be determined that the collec provisions of chapter 323, p. 880, of the Acts tion of such damages should be delayed until the of the year 1891, and acts in amendment balance due them after offsetting the betterments should be determined was dependent up
or addition thereto, and of any assessments on the acceptance of the offer by the city, by a
which may be levied upon our several esperformance of the entire agreement within a tates for the cost of said laying out and reasonable time, and after an unreasonable de construction being delayed until the damages lay, the property owners were entitled to collect their award of damages, though the better
caused to us severally by the taking of said ments had not been assessed.
land, and the cost of the construction of said 4. MANDAMUS-STREET IMPROVEMENT-DELAY street, shall be determined, and of said damIN CONSTRUCTION.
ages being offset against the proportionate Because of such delay the property owners part of said cost which may be levied upon were entitled to a writ of mandamus to compel the municipal authorities to complete the
out respective estates, agree that the payconstruction of the street.
ment for said damages shall be delayed un
til the balance due from us severally, after Report from Superior Court, Suffolk Coun
making said offset, has been determined. ty; Jabez Fox, Judge.
“And we severally agree that we will acAction by Thomas Aspinwall and others
cept as payment, for so much of our said against the city of Boston to recover an
land to be taken for said street as lies with. award of damages for taking land for a pub
in one hundred and twenty-five feet of said lic street. Mandamus by Mary A. Tappan
Audubon Road, the sum of three dollars per and others against the same defendant to
square foot; and for so much of our said compel the completion of the street. Re
land as lies within one hundred and tw nported to the Supreme Judicial Court. Judg
ty-five feet of said Boylston street extension, ment for plaintiffs in the first case, and per
the sum of two dollars per square foot; emptory writ of mandamus ordered issued
and for so much of our said land as lies in the second case.
within one hundred and twenty-five feet of C. H. Tyler, 0. D. Young, and John Bark Brookline avenue, the sum of one and 50/100 er, for plaintiffs. Thos. M. Babson, for de dollars per square foot; and for so much of fendants.
our said land as lies within one hundred
and twenty-five feet of Peterbrough street, or within one hundred and twenty-five feet of Queensbury street, the sum of one and 60/100 dollars per square foot; and for the rest of our said land, the sum of one dollar per square foot; it being stipulated that the execution of this paper by any owner upon any copy of this agreement, shall be tantamount to an execution of this original agreement, and that each owner signing this ugreement makes no undertaking for anybody other than himself. Witness our hands and seals this twenty-fifth day of March, A. D. 1897.
“[Signed and sealed)."
The betterments have not been assessed, and the question is whether the plaintiffs are bound by this contract to delay the collection of their damages until the betterments can be offset. Water pipes were laid in the street in accordance with the order of the street commissioners, in the autumn of 1899. It is agreed that, allowing a reasonable time for surfacing and building the street, it could have been finished by the city as soon as January 1, 1900. A sewer, constructed through the street as ordered, was finished on December 17, 1903.
The fundamental question is whether the contract was of a kind that, upon acceptance by the city might become binding upon the parties. It was not signed by any one representing the city of Boston, and no one had authority to make a contract for the city to do the things referred to the writing. A street can be laid out and constructed only upon an adjudication of a tribunal acting officially, and determining that the public convenience and necessity require it to be laid out as a street. See Somerville v. Dickerman, 127 Mass. 272; Parks v. Boston, 8 Pick. 218, 19 Am. Dec. 322. But a unilateral contract, offering to the city favorable terms as to land damages as an inducement to the laying out of a street, may be considered by the board charged with the duty of dealing with such matters, and may be accepted and made binding, by performance of that which is referred to in it as its consideration. Crockett v. Boston, 5 Cush. 182; White v. Norfolk County Commissioners, 2 Cush. 361; Boston v. Simmons, 9 Cush. 373; Bell v. Boston, 101 Mass. 506; Atkinson v. Newton, 169 Mass. 240-242, 47 N. E. 1029, and cases cited; Bartlett v. Boston, 182 Mass. 460, 65 N. E. 827.
There is no doubt, in the present case, that the board of street commissioners acted upon this contract in making the order and to that extent accepted it. They assessed the land damages according to the provisions of the contract. If the construction had been finished seasonably in pursuance of the provisions of the writing, there would have been a complete acceptance by performance, which would have bound the city, as well as the plaintiffs, provided the contract is such as the representatives of the city had a right to
make. First Nat. Bank v. Watkins, 154 Mass. 385, 28 N. E. 275; Wellington v. Apthorp, 145 Mass. 69–73, 13 N. E. 10; Cottage Street Church v. Kendall, 121 Mass. 528, 23 Am. Rep. 286. In regard to the nature of the contract in this particular, the only ground for doubt is as to those provisions which require postponement of the collection of betterments until the damages caused to the several signers of the writing shall be determined, and prescribe a set-off of the damages against the betterments. This arrangement is not within the langtage of Rev. Laws, c. 50, $ 11, which authorize an agreement for the assumption of the betterments by the city or town upon a release of the damages on terms agreed upon, but it resembles such an agreement, although it does not require the city to give up anything important. Where a city or town would have the advantage of delay in paying the damages, and of an agreement to accept a stated sum as damages, an arrangement that betterments and damages shall be set-off against each other is not objectionable, provided the lien for betterments is preserved. Inasmuch as the street commissioners assessed the damages according to the terms of the agreement and the city authorities have carried the construction of the street almost to completion we see no such risk of loss from the postponement of the collection of the betterments until the amount of the damages to these subscribers and the cost of the construction shall be determined, as should make the contract illegal. Upon such an assessment of damages under such an agreement as to the mode of assessing them, it is not possible that litigation to determine the amount could arise and be protracted in the courts. The statute postpones an assessment of betterments until after the construction has been completed (Rev. Laws, C. 50, § 1), and there need be no considerable delay in ascertaining the cost of construction.
We are inclined to hold that a contract of this kind may give such advantages to a city, and be so free from possible disadvantages, as to be binding, if the authorities, in laying out the street, and afterwards in constructing it, accept the offer.
An agreement not to assess betterments upon a particular estate, or to release the owner from liability for them, is a contract of a different kind, which can be made by the street commissioners only under and in accordance with Rev. Laws, C. 50, $ 11, as amended by St. 1902, p. 417, c. 503.
Treating the contract as one under which the parties on both sides could bind themselves, we come to the fact that the street was not completed in a reasonable time, and has not yet been completed. The time for taking appeals from the awards of damages expired long ago, and it is unnecessary to consider whether, on a performance of a part of the consideration, by laying out the street and assessing the damages ac
cording to the contract, the subscribers would tion. The petitioners delayed the collection be bound by their stipulation as to the mode of their damages, treating the contract rcof estimating these damages. The impor-lating to each street as accepted and binding. . tant practical question is whether the stipula- Plainly they have a right to have the work tion as to the delay in collecting damages finished, so that, as property owners and as can be enforced against the plaintiffs, when members of the public, they can have the the city fails to perform that part of the benefits which the streets were expected to contract which calls for the immediate con- confer. They are entitled to these, without struction of the street. Upon the theory reference to the fact that the payment of the of the defendant, the city might prevent the damages for taking their land has been deplaintiffs from ever collecting their damages, layed to await the completion of the work by failing to complete the construction, and and the assessment of benefits. Whether by neglecting or refusing to assess better- this delay furnishes an additional reason in ments. We think the agreement of the plain- law for granting the petition, we need not tiffs to delay the collection of the damages is decide. The petitioners have elected to treat dependent upon the acceptance of the offer by the contract in each case as binding upon the city, by a performance of the entire both parties, and it may well be that, upon agreement referred to in the writing, within complete performance of the work, the city a reasonable time. In order to hold the will not be permitted hereafter to set up its plaintiffs to their agreement, it was incum- own neglect, to defeat the rights of the bent on the city, not only to complete the plaintiffs growing out of the respective conconstruction of the street promptly, but also tracts, even though the plaintiffs might have to ascertain the cost and to make an assess- availed themselves of this neglect, and have ment of betterments, so that the provision treated the acts of the city as ineffectual for a set-off might be applied to the facts. to prevent them from collecting their damLowe v. Harwood, 139 Mass. 133, 29 N. E. ages. On the facts agreed, there is no good 538. The agreement of the plaintiffs to de- reason why the authorities of the city should lay was made upon condition that all this not proceed to complete the construction of should be done within a reasonable time. each of these streets. On a failure if the condition, the agreement be- In the first case there is to be judgment for comes inapplicable. It could not have been the plaintiff; in the second case, a peremptory intended that the plaintiffs should wait in- writ of mandamus is to issue. definitely for their damages, until the city should choose to finish the work. Both upon Mr. Justice HAMMOND agrees to the rebroad principles of equity and a strict con- sult, but does not agree to the reasoning of struction of the writing, we are of opin- the opinion. ion that the plaintiffs are not obliged to delay the enforcement of their claim. They are entitled to recover the amount of the
(191 Mass. 457) award, with interest from September 22, 1898.
ROMANO V. DE VITO. Norcross V. City of Cambridge, 166 Mass. (Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts.
Suffolk. May 15, 1906.) 508-511, 44 N. E. 615, 33 L. R. A. 843. The second suit is a petition by other sub
1. LIBEL-WORDS IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE
PLEADING. scribers to this contract for a writ of manda
Where libelous words were written in a mus to compel the authorities of the city to foreign language, the declaration should set out complete the construction of the street. It the words in that language, together with a
translation thereof. also includes another street called Queensbury street, in reference to which there was
[Ed. Note.-For cases in point, see vol. 32,
Cent. Dig. Libel and Slander, s 204.] a similar contract signed by these petitioners,
2. SAME-PROOF OF TRANSLATION. and similar action was taken by the authori.
Where a libel was written in a foreign ties of the city, and the petition asks for a language, the burden was on plaintiff to prove writ of mandamus to compel the construc
that the translation of the foreign words set out
in the declaration was correct. tion of this street also. As abutters desirous of an attractive street, as members of the Exceptions from Superior Court, Suffolk public, and as claimants of damages for County; L. Le B. Holmes, Judge. land taken, the petitioners are interested to Action by Vito Antonio Romano against have the street finished. The right of abut- Maria Antonio De Vito. A verdict was diters to have a remedy of this kind, in such rected in favor of defendant, and plaintiff cases, if the facts warrant it, was considered brings exceptions. Overruled. and affirmed, with a citation of the author
Wm. Flaherty and Wm. Burns, for plainities, in McCarthy v. Street Commissioners,
tiff. Chas. P. Greenough and John A. Blan188 Mass. 338, 74 N. E. 659. See, also, Attor
chard, for defendant. ney General v. Boston, 123 Mass. 460–478.
In this case, as to both streets, both parties LATHROP, J. This is an action of tort have acted upon the offer of these petitioners. for slanderous words alleged to have been The city laid out each of the streets and as- spoken by the defendant concerning the plain. sessed damages in accordance with the offer, tiff. The original declaration was in the Eng.and nearly completed the work of construc- lish language. During the trial it appeared
that the words spoken were in the Italian Exceptions from Superior Court, Suffolk language, and the counsel for the plaintiff County ; John A. Aiken, C. J. stated that the alleged slanderous words Action by Francis B. Munroe against Ann had been spoken in Italian, and that he did E. Taylor. There was a verdict for defendnot contend that they were spoken in English. ant, and plaintiff brings exceptions. ExcepThe judge then suggested that, if that were tions overruled. so, there was a variance between the allega
Lorenzo Cowan and Stephen H. Tyng, for tions and the proof. The plaintiff asked for
plaintiff. George L. Mayberry, for defend. leave to amend by setting forth the words
ant. spoken in Italian, and the judge intimating that such amendment would be permitted, the
BRALEY, J. This is an action of contract trial proceeded as before through an inter
to recover a broker's commission for effectpreter. At the close of the evidence for the
ing an alleged sale of certain real estate beplaintiff an amended declaration was filed
longing to the defendant. In the superior setting forth the words spoken in Italian,
court at the close of the evidence a verdict with their meaning in English. The plain
was directed for the defendant, and the case tiff then rested. The counsel for the defend
is before us on the plaintiff's exceptions to ant then asked the court to rule that there
this ruling, and the question presented is was no evidence that the foreign words set forth in the amended declaration were spok
whether upon the evidence the plaintiff is
entitled to be paid for his services. Whaten by the defendant, and, further, that there
ever contract is found to have existed bewas no evidence as to the meaning of such
tween the parties was entered into by the foreign words, and requested the judge to
defendant, acting through her daughter as an rule that the action could not be maintained.
agent. The first agreement made May 1, The judge so ruled. A verdict was accordingly returned for the defendant; and the
1899, placed the property which consisted of
a tract of land of about eight acres, with case is before us on the plaintiff's exception to this ruling.
buildings thereon, in the plaintiff's hands
for sale under these terms: "The price 1. There is no doubt that when libelous
asked by Ann E. Taylor is $10,000. All over words are written in a foreign language
that amount that it is sold for F. B. Munroe they should be set out in that language, and
is to have as his commission for selling the a translation given. Zenobio V. Axtell, 6
property. This agreement holds good until T. R. 162, per Lord Kenyon, C. J. The same
Ann E. Taylor withdraws the sale of the rule applies in cases of slander. Rahauser
property.” It does not clearly appear what v. Barth, 3 Watts (Pa.) 28; Lettmann v.
steps, if any were taken by the plaintiff to Ritz, 3 Sandf. (N. Y.) 734; Zeig v. Ort, 3 Pin.
effect a sale before the second contract of (Wis.) 30; Kerschbaugher v. Slusser, 12 Ind.
May 31, 1900, was executed. By this con453; Wormouth v. Cramer, 3 Wend. (N. Y.)
tract after a description of the estate, it 394; Keenholts v. Becker, 3 Denio (N. Y.)
was provided, that the plaintiff was empow346.
ered to sell the property "for the sum of 2. It is also necessary to prove that the
$10,330, and F. B. Munroe is to have for translation of the foreign words in the dec
himself as commission all over that amount laration is correct. Hickley V. Grosjean, 6
he can get for it. The party that buys this Blackf. (Ind.) 351; Noeninger v. Vogt, 88
property is to pay the taxes for the year Mo. 589; Odgers, Libel & Slander (4th Ed.)
1900. This holds for the year 1900." With 119, 120; Townshend, Slander & Libel (4th
the exception of the amount to be paid, the Ed.) § 330; Newell, Slander & Libel (2d Ed.)
assumption of taxes, and the limitation of 760; Folkard, Slander & Libel (6th Ed.) 471,
the time within which it was to be perform484.
ed, the terms of the agreements so far as As there was no attempt to do this in the
they relate to the payment of a commission case at bar, the ruling of the judge below
do not differ. In both the plaintiff upon was right.
making the sale was to receive as his comExceptions overruled.
pensation all that he could obtain beyond
a certain sum. On April 10, 1901, as a re(191 Mass. 483)
sult of his negotiations a binding contract MUNROE v. TAYLOR.
to purchase at a price largely in advance of (Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts.
the amount fixed by the second agreement Suffolk. May 16, 1906.)
was made and duly executed by the purBROKERS-REAL ESTATE AGENTS—RIGHT TO COMMISSION-CONSTRUCTION OF CONTRACT.
chaser and the defendant, and if this sale Under a contract empowering a real es had been perfected by passing the title he tate broker to sell property for a certain sum, would have earned the difference, less, howand providing that he should have as commission all that he could get for the property above
ever, a small sum which he previously had the price named, he was entitled to commission received from her. But the sale never was only in the event of procuring the consumma ccnsummated, although the reasons for the tion of sale, and not on procuring the execution failure are not disclosed. While it appears of a contract of sale which was never performed.
that the plaintiff attached the property as [Ed. Note.--For cases in point, see vol. 8,
security for his claim there is no evidence Cent. Dig. Brokers, § 91.]
that the sale fell through by reason of this
act, or that the purchaser declined to take
(191 Mass. 494) a deed because of certain supposed imper
FIELD 7. FLETCHER. fections in the title, but which finally are (Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. shown to have been invalid ; nor does it ap
Norfolk. May 16, 1906.) pear that at any time the defendant has re 1. REPLEVIN-TITLE TO SUPPORT ACTION. fused to make a proper deed of conveyance.
In order to maintain an action in replevin, It is the plaintiff's contention that having
the plaintiff is bound to show in himself both found a customer who became bound to buy,
property and right of possession.
[Ed. Note.-For cases in point, see vol. 42, his commission had been earned, within the Cent. Dig. Replevin, 88 45-68.] rule stated in Fitzpatrick v. Gilson, 176 Mass.
2. EXECUTION-FAILURE TO RETAIN POSSES477, 478, 57 N. E. 1000. See Cadigan v. Crab SION OF GOODS. tree, 179 Mass. 474, 481, 61 N. E. 37, 55 L Where an officer levied execution on cer
tain property, but thereafter left the property R. A. 77, 88 Am. St. Rep. 397; Monk v.
for some six weeks in the possession of one Parker, 180 Mass. 246, 63 N. E. 793; French
claiming adversely to the execution defendv. McKay, 181 Mass. 485, 63 N. E. 1068. ant, the officer lost his special property in the No question of pleading is presented for
goods levied on; there being no evidence that the declaration, which is on an account an
during the six-week interval he did anything
to maintain possession or control of the propnexed, must be treated either as a quantum erty. meruit, or as a count to recover a stated sum [Ed. Note.-For cases in point, see vol. 21, due upon the performance of a contract in Cent. Dig. Execution, § 384.] writing, but not under seal. Lovell v. Earle, 3. SAME-BULKY PROPERTY-APPLICATION OF 127 Mass. 546; Bowen v. Proprietors of the
Rev. Laws, c. 167, § 45, relative to the South Building, 137 Mass. 247, and the case
attachment of goods or property which cannot turns upon the contruction which is to be be easily removed by reason of its bulk, does given to the contract. By the language used not apply to the seizure of goods upon an exit is manifest that the price at which the
ecution. property sold was to fix the amount of the Exceptions from Superior Court, Norfolk plaintiff's commission. It was contemplated County; Loranas E. Hitchcock, Judge. that an actual sale should be effected, and Action by George H. Field against Calvin that payment to him should be made from G. Fletcher. A verdict for defendant was the price obtained, and it was not an under directed by the court, and plaintiff brings taking whereby the broker is only to find exceptions. Exceptions overruled. a purchaser, and having done so it becomes
Edward J. Parker, for plaintiff. George wholly immaterial so far as earning his
H. Brown, for defendant. commission is concerned whether the principal accepts the bargain, or lets the oppor KNOWLTON, C. J. The plaintiff, as a tunity lapse. Neither does it fall within
deputy sheriff, brought this action of replevthe principle of Cadigan v. Crabtree, 186 in, to obtain property claimed by him under Mass. 7, 13, 70 N. E. 1033, 66 L R. A. 982, an execution against a party other than the 104 Am. St. Rep. 543, that where the agent, defendant, which had been put in his hands when at the point of a successful nego for collection. He levied upon the property, tiation, has his authority revoked by the which consisted of two large disks of iron principal, who afterwards effectuates a sale that weighed two tons each, and some shafts, with the proposed purchaser, evidence is pipes, skids and rails. An attachment of it thus furnished from which it can be found had been made by him on the original writ, that the withdrawal of authority was made and in his return on the writ he described in bad faith, and for the purpose of enabling it as one stone grinding machine, together the principal to escape payment of a com with frames and connections. By reason of mission. But here the written agreements the bulk of the articles the attachment was out of which the plaintiff's right of action made by depositing an attested copy of the arises, either considered separately or to writ, with the return upon it, in the office gether, must be construed as meaning that of the city clerk, in accordance with Rev. the sale was to be completed, and then out Laws, C. 167, § 45. The execution was not of the price any surplus beyond the amount issued until nearly six months after the restipulated which the defendant was to re covery of the judgment, and so the attachceive should be paid to him for his services. ment was lost. What the plaintiff really undertook was not The property had been removed by the de only to find a purchaser at a fixed price, but fendant from the place where it was attachto effect a sale, which meant a payment of ed, and he held it on his own premises, under that price, and this having been done he a bill of sale from the execution creditor. would have earned the excess, but until the There was ground for contention as to whethconsideration became payable, or the de er it was covered by the bill of sale. fendant refused to convey, he could not de In order to maintain an action of replevin mand any remuneration, or maintain an ac the plaintiff was bound to show in himself tion for breach of the contract. Walker v. both property and a right of possession. Tirrell, 101 Mass. 257, 3 Am. Rep. 352. Ex Johnson v. Neagle, 6 Allen, 227; Hallett v. ceptions overruled.
Fowler, 8 Allen, 93; Stanley V. Neale, 98