Contracts Keyed to Summers
S.P. Dunham & Company v. Kudra
S.P. Dunham & Company (Plaintiff) operated a department store. It leased its fur department to Elmer A. Hurwitz & Co. (Hurwitz). Plaintiff’s customers brought their fur coats to Hurwitz for storage and cleaning. Unbeknownst to Plaintiff’s customers, Hurwitz turned the coats over to George M. Kudra (Defendant), a competitor of Plaintiff’s, for storage and cleaning. In November 1955, Hurwitz underwent bankruptcy. At the time, Plaintiff was in possession of 412 coats, for which Hurwitz owed $622.50. Plaintiff offered to pay the balance. However, Plaintiff demanded Plaintiff also pay Hurwitz’s additional outstanding balance of $3,232.55 before Plaintiff would return the coats. Plaintiff requested a few days to consider the demand. In the interim, many of Plaintiff’s customers began demanding their coats due to a drop in temperature that fall. Plaintiff sought further negotiations, and Plaintiff proposed that Plaintiff deliver the coats directly to Plaintiff’s customers and bill them directly. Plaintiff refused this proposal. On November 29, 1955, Plaintiff paid the entire sum previously demanded by Plaintiff. On December 15, 1955, Plaintiff sued Plaintiff, seeking a return of $3,232.55 on grounds that the amount was paid under business compulsion. The trial court ruled in Plaintiff’s favor. Plaintiff appealed.
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