If a hirer failed to deliver a slave upon the expiration of the term, he became liable for the slave's value.
If, however, the slave died during the term, it became the owner's responsibility to demonstrate that the death resulted from the hirer's violation of duty.
Facts of the Case
On February 1, 1844, Moseley hired a slave woman named Adeline to Wilkinson, who agreed to provide proper medical care and, if necessary, call in a physician. Moseley understood that Adeline had been hired as a cook and would work in Montgomery. Wilkinson subsequently rehired her to A.B. Hughes, who lived four miles from town and who put Adeline to work in the field. She became ill, the overseer treated her, and Adeline subsequently died. The Montgomery County Circuit Court charged the jury that Wilkinson was liable if he had rehired Adeline as claimed. He was further liable if he had not demonstrated that the overseer had not treated Adeline "in the same way that a skilful [sic] man would have treated her."
Before the Alabama Supreme Court, Wilkinson argued that it was Moseley's responsibility to prove that adequate care had not been provided.
Moseley argued that Wilkinson had violated the contract by rehiring Adeline to Hughes.
The Court's Decision
Judge Silas Parsons wrote the opinion for the Alabama Supreme Court. He ruled that the rehire had not broken the contract and that it had been Moseley's responsibility to demonstrate that Wilkinson failed to provide adequate medical care.
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