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MARYLAND STEEL COMPANY BALTIMORE COUNTY v. UNITED STATES

January 5, 1915

MARYLAND STEEL COMPANY OF BALTIMORE COUNTY
v.
UNITED STATES



APPEAL FROM THE COURT OF CLAIMS

White, McKenna, Holmes, Day, Hughes, Van Devanter, Lamar, Pitney; Mr. Justice McReynolds took no part in the consideration and decision of this case.

Author: Mckenna

[ 235 U.S. Page 453]

 MR. JUSTICE McKENNA delivered the opinion of the court.

Petition in the Court of Claims for judgment for the sum of $4,750.00, balance due upon a contract entered into between petitioner in such court, appellant here, and the United States for the construction of a steel hull twinscrew suction dredge and for installing therein the propelling and other machinery.

There was and is no controversy as to the performance

[ 235 U.S. Page 454]

     of the contract or as to the amount due upon it. The Government set up as an offset an amount alleged to have been illegally paid on a prior contract between appellant and the Government, which contract, according to the findings of the Court of Claims, (all the facts which we state being the findings of the Court of Claims) was entered into between appellant and the Government on June 24, 1903, for the construction and equipment of a single screw steamer for harbor service of the Quartermaster's Department and submarine cable service, according to certain specifications which were made part of the contract, for a consideration of $88,000.00, to be paid in various amounts as the work progressed, less 10% to be withheld to make good any defects, the vessel to be completed within one hundred and forty days, exclusive of Sundays and legal holidays, or by December 9, 1903.

It was provided that if appellant should "fail to complete and deliver the steamer within the stipulated time it should pay to the United States the sum of $50.00 per day as liquidated damages for each and every day so delayed, exclusive of Sundays and legal holidays, which amount, it was provided, might be withheld from any money due" appellant under the contract.*fn1

[ 235 U.S. Page 455]

     On December 1, 1903, before the time stipulated for completion had expired, at the request of appellant, owing to unavoidable delays in procuring the necessary material, the Quartermaster General of the Army, within his discretion under the contract, orally waived the time limit in the contract, and subsequently, on April 2, 1904, confirmed the waiver by letter.

On April 1, 1904, or ninety-five days, exclusive of Sundays and holidays, after the time fixed in the contract, the Quartermaster General directed the depot quartermaster at New York to make final payment for the steamer, retaining, however, the 10% to make good any defects there might be in the material and workmanship. On July 13, 1904, the entire sum stipulated to be paid by the Government was paid without any deduction whatever.

It does not appear that appellant unreasonably delayed the work after the waiver of the time limit, or that the Government suffered any actual pecuniary loss or damage by reason of the delay in the completion and delivery of the steamer.

The court found the facts as to the other contract as set out in the petition of appellant and that appellant was paid the stipulated price therefor, less the sum of $4,750, "which [we quote from the findings, 48 Ct. Cls., p. 53] the defendants (the United States) claim was the amount arising as liquidated damages for the ninety-five days' delay of the claimant (appellant here) in the completion of the steamer under the first contract hereinbefore referred to and which amount the ...


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