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Jacham Enterprises Inc. v. Hoffman

Decided: January 31, 1964.

JACHAM ENTERPRISES, INC. ET AL.
v.
HOFFMAN, ETC.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Baltimore City; Jones, J.

Brune, C.J., and Henderson, Hammond, Marbury and Sybert, JJ. Marbury, J., delivered the opinion of the Court.

Marbury

This is an appeal from an order of the Circuit Court of Baltimore City dated October 11, 1962 overruling appellants' demurrer to a petition for injunction and from an order passed

by the same court on April 25, 1963 wherein the appellants were directed to restore to the appellee certain coin-operated amusement devices specified therein, or in lieu thereof to pay the appellee the sum of $1,100 and further awarding the appellee damages in the amount of $1,950 and assessing costs against the appellants.

The appellant Jacham Enterprises, Inc. (Jacham) is a Maryland corporation engaged in the business of installing and operating coin-operated amusement devices and automatic phonographs in various business locations in Baltimore and throughout the surrounding area pursuant to contracts entered into between it and the owners of such business establishments.

The appellee, Joseph Hoffman (Hoffman) owns a tavern in Baltimore, and in November 1961 he contracted with Jacham for the installation of Jacham's coin-operated devices on his business premises. As a part of the agreement Jacham was to purchase Hoffman's equipment, remove it from the premises, and install its own equipment in the tavern. This was done, and almost immediately thereafter, strangers presented claims of title to Hoffman's equipment then in the hands of Jacham. One such claimant filed an action of replevin in December 1961.

As a result of these claims made against Hoffman's equipment and further difficulties between him and the appellant, a suit for an injunction and for specific performance of the November contract was instituted by Jacham on January 12, 1962. This suit is the original pleading in the case from which this appeal stems. Hoffman filed a cross-bill of complaint, and after some additional pleadings, the case was heard by Judge Cullen in the Circuit Court of Baltimore City and resulted in a decree, dated April 30, 1962, about which more will be said later herein.

However, between the hearing on the bill and cross-bill and the issuance of the decree, another replevin action, this one by Chesapeake Vending Machine Co., Inc. (Chesapeake), was instituted against Jacham in March 1962 seeking some of the equipment which Jacham had purchased from Hoffman. This suit, we were told at the oral argument, is still pending.

The effect of the decree of April 30, 1962 was that Hoffman was ordered to repay to Jacham any money that Jacham had paid him pursuant to their agreement, allowing Jacham to remove

its equipment from Hoffman's premises, declaring their former agreement null and void and determining that "property" in the disputed equipment was in Hoffman. In other words, the parties were placed in status quo, as though the agreement between Jacham and Hoffman entered into in November 1961 had never been made. Following the decree Jacham then agreed to permit its equipment to remain on Hoffman's premises for a period of one month from May 4 to June 4, 1962, upon payment by Hoffman of $400. Hoffman's equipment which he had sold to Jacham consisted of seven items, four of which had not been returned to him pursuant to the decree, although an order of satisfaction was signed by attorneys for both parties and filed May 9, 1962. These four machines, which are the subject of the controversy between the parties, consisted of one Ballerina pin ball game, one Shawnee console, and two Continental cigarette machines.

On May 1, 1962, the day following the court's decree, Hoffman, having learned of Chesapeake's replevin suit, formally intervened as a party defendant in that suit and several days later filed a petition for a writ of retorno habendo together with a bond in the amount of $4000. We now get to the point where, as Mr. Justice Holmes once said, the little boy pinched his finger in the machine. Finding that four pieces of equipment had not been replevied by Chesapeake as he thought but were still being held by Jacham, Hoffman, on June 7, 1962, filed a petition for an injunction, seeking, inter ...


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