Consequential damage, to be recoverable, in an action of tort, must be the proximate consequence of the act complained of, and not the secondary result thereof. The rule is plain ; the difficulty, if any, is in its application. The dividing line between proximate and remote damage, is sometimes so indistinct as to leave a field of doubtful and disputed ground. No difficulty of that sort arises here, and the case affords an apt illustration of the rule.
The proximate damage to the plaintiff from the tort of the defendant, was the loss of the mule; a shortening of the crop was the secondary consequence resulting from the first damage; He is allowed to recover for the first, but not for the second, because it is too remote and uncertain. The loss of the crop, though following the loss of the mule, was neither a necessary or natural consequence. The plaintiff might buy or hire another and finish his crop ; and because he preferred to throw out a part of the crop, he is not thereby enabled to claim damage for the loss as an immediate and necessary consequence of the tort.
Suppose the Court should apply a principle of equity and undertake to place the plaintiff as near as may be to his condition as it was before the tort % As far as the Court could go to that end wonld be to allow him the cost of the hire- of another animal until his crop was made, and then to pay him for the one he had lost. That, we think, should be the rule of damages in this case. Anything beyond this would be too remote and conjectural, and would lead the Courts into a boundless field of investigation.
*443If the action was for damage for a breach of contract, the rule would be to give such damage, as being incidental to the breach as a natural consequence thereof, may be reasonably presumed to have been within the contemplation of the parties. Ashe v. DeRossett, 5 Jones, 299. In our case the defendant was an officer of the law, armed with a legal precept, and acted in the supposed discharge of his duty. He contemplated no wrongful injury to the plaintiff, and in no view can be held liable for more than the immediate and natural consequences of his mistake as to the ownership of the property converted by him.
In an action of covenant for not furnishing machinery for a Steam mill, at a stipulated time, the plaintiff cannot recover in damages the estimated value of the profits he might have made, if the covenant had been complied with, because they are too vague and uncertain to form any criterion of damages. Mc-Boyle v. Ruder, 1 Ired., 607. Such has been the uniform course of the decisions in this State. We think they are founded upon the soundest principles and sustained by the weight of authority. 2 Kent’s Com. 480, in notes ; Sedgwick ■on Dam., 67 ; Hadly v. Baxendate, 9 Exch. 341; Blanchard v. Eley, 21 Wend. 342, 30 Iowa, 176.
The objection that the action abated by the death of the defendant, is untenable. Bat. Rev., chap. 45, sec. 113. C, C. P., gee. 64.
His Honors instructions to the jury were erroneous.
Venire de novo,