The owner may take possession of a slave if the hirer refuses to provide medical care.

If the owner offers to return the slave, but the hirer refuses, the owner may recover the entire amount of the hire.

Facts of the Case

Hogan hired a slave to Carr. The slave had an injured leg, but Carr refused to provide medical treatment or allow him to rest and recover. Eventually, the situation became so bad that slave's leg and perhaps his life were endangered. Hogan removed the slave, had him treated, and offered to return him to Carr, who refused. Marengo County Court ruled that Hogan had broken the contract and could not recover payment.

The Court's Decision

Judge John J. Ormond wrote the decision for the Alabama Supreme Court. He ruled that the hirer had an obligation to treat the slave humanely, just as he had an obligation to treat a hired horse humanely. If the hirer failed to perform this duty, the owner could remove the slave from his possession. In coming to this decision, he cited his own opinions in Gibson v. Andrews and Rasco and Brantley v. Willis. Furthermore, by offering to return the slave, Hogan had made Carr responsible for full payment under the contract.

Go to the AU Archives and Manuscripts Department Homepage