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Contracts Keyed to Kuney
Alaska Packers’ Ass’n v. Domenico
Citation:117 F. 99 (1902).
ProfessorMelissa A. Hale
CaseCast™ – "What you need to know"
The libelants were seaman that signed shipping articles with the respondent company. Under the terms of a March 26th, 1900 agreement the respondent agreed to pay each of the libelants $50 for the season and two cents for each red salmon catching he took part in. Similarly, 21 of the libelants signed shipping articles on April 15th in which respondent agreed to pay each $60 for the season and two cents for each red salmon. In April, libelants sailed from San Francisco, California to Pyramid Harbor, Alaska where respondent had invested $150,000 into a cannery.
On May 19th, the libelants stopped work and demanded the company’s superintendent change the libelants‘ compensation for the season to $100. The superintendent informed the libelants he did not have the authority to create such a contract and endeavored to get the libelants to proceed with their work. On May 22nd, the superintendent yielded to libelants‘ demands and instructed his clerk to alter a copy of the shipping contracts to state a sum of $100. The libelants then signed the contracts before a shipping commissioner.
Upon the libelants return to San Francisco, they demanded payment in accordance with the May 22nd contract. The respondent company denied the validity of that contract and offered payment based on the terms of the March 26th and April 15th contracts. Additionally, at trial, the libelants contended that the respondent company had provided them with rotten fishing nets which the district court found to be unlikely since the respondent company’s profits depended on the libelants‘ success during the short fishing season.
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