You Cannot Have it Both Ways: Missouri Appellate Court Holds City Cannot Bring a Complaint for Breach of a Contract and Plead in Response to a Counterclaim That the Same Contract Is Void

City of Dardenne Prairie v. Adams Concrete & Masonry, LLC, No. ED104982, 2017 Mo. App. LEXIS 533 (Mo. Ct. App. May 30, 2017)

This case arises out of a construction project in which the City of Dardenne Prairie (the “City”) purchased bricks for its construction of two buildings—a new city hall and a parks maintenance building—from Adams Concrete & Masonry, LLC (“ACM”).  In October 2008, the City enacted two ordinances authorizing the construction of the new city hall, but did not enact any ordinances authorizing the construction of the parks maintenance building.  Such authorization—and approval—by the City’s Board of Aldermen (“Board”) is required by law for public projects in Missouri.  Nevertheless, the City executed an agreement with ACM for the purchase of bricks and provision of masonry work for both projects.  In November 2009, the City paid ACM in full for all of the bricks.  But in December 2010, the City decided not to construct its parks maintenance building and thus, the bricks for it were never delivered.

In 2014, the City contacted ACM regarding the location of the undelivered bricks.  Upon learning that ACM’s fabricator had already resold the bricks, the City sued ACM for breach of contract to recover the cost of the undelivered bricks, averring that ACM had breached its purchase agreement by failing to deliver the materials.  ACM counterclaimed for breach of contract, claiming that the City was in breach by cancelling the construction of the parks maintenance building, thereby preventing ACM from completing its masonry work.  The City raised an affirmative defense, asserting that its agreement with ACM had not been approved by the City’s Board as required and thus was not enforceable.  ACM seized on the City’s assertion and moved for judgment on the pleadings arguing that, through this affirmative defense, the City admitted that its Board had not approved the agreement, and thus, the agreement was void and the City, too, was barred from recovering for breach of a contract that never existed.  The trial court sustained ACM’s motion and dismissed the claim and counterclaim. Continue reading “You Cannot Have it Both Ways: Missouri Appellate Court Holds City Cannot Bring a Complaint for Breach of a Contract and Plead in Response to a Counterclaim That the Same Contract Is Void”

Federal District Court in PA Holds Contractor’s Use of Subcontractor’s Conditional Bid Proposal in its Bid to Owner Insufficient to Form Enforceable Contract

Neshaminy Constructors, Inc. v. Concrete Building Systems, Inc.
2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 69197, Civil Action No. 06-1489 (E.D. Pa. 2007)

The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania conducted a bench trial in which the primary question was whether a contract had been formed between a contractor and subcontractor in connection with a project for which the contractor submitted a bid proposal utilizing, in part, the subcontractor’s bid proposal for calculating the total price for the work. Relying on Pennsylvania common law, the Eastern District held that use of a subcontractor’s bid, by a general contractor in the submission of its own bid to the owner, in and of itself is not sufficient to create a binding contract. Continue reading “Federal District Court in PA Holds Contractor’s Use of Subcontractor’s Conditional Bid Proposal in its Bid to Owner Insufficient to Form Enforceable Contract”

Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Holds Owner’s Negligence Cause of Action Against Subcontractor Barred by the Economic Loss Rule

Dur v. Western Branch Diesel, Inc.
2007 U.S. App. LEXIS 16237 (4th Cir. July 9, 2007)

Following the precedent of the Supreme Court of Virginia in Sensenbreunner v. Rust. Orling & Neale, Architects, Inc., 374 S.E.2d 55 (Va. 1988), the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the district court’s grant of a motion for summary judgment. The Court held that damage to an owner’s boat caused by an electrical fire fell within the scope of the contract between the owner’s general contractor and the subcontractor and amounted to nothing more than economic loss, which barred the owner from maintaining a cause of action for negligence against the subcontractor. Continue reading “Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Holds Owner’s Negligence Cause of Action Against Subcontractor Barred by the Economic Loss Rule”