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decided: April 12, 1915.



Author: Mckenna

[ 237 U.S. Page 238]

 MR. JUSTICE McKENNA delivered the opinion of the court.

Action for damages in the sum of $207,304.50 brought by appellants against the United States, growing out of a contract with the United States on the nineteenth of February, 1900, for the construction of three locks and dams on the Warrior river in Alabama.

The work was completed and accepted in November, 1903.

The items of damage were: delay in permitting commencement of the work; for construction of wagon roads; greater expense of excavation and pile driving due to misrepresentation of the materials in the specifications and drawings; increase in excavation due to the "angle of repose" fixed by the officer in charge; extra work in the construction of additional cofferdams, and other items.

The court rendered judgment for claimants upon two items, based on findings 2 and 3, to-wit, $9,391.57 for "delays in permitting the commenciment of work" and $100.00 for "construction of wagon roads," making a total of $9,491.57.

[ 237 U.S. Page 239]

     This appeal was then prosecuted, and three errors are assigned -- (1) in refusing to allow for the extra expense due to the increased difficulty in pile driving and excavation on account of misrepresentation of the materials to be penetrated and excavated; (2) in refusing to allow $45,000.00 for excavation of material caused by defect in the "angle of repose," and in refusing to allow the further sum of $1,183.00 for excavation of material under which certain concrete forms were buried; and (3) in refusing to allow the cost of cofferdams built on the order of the officer in charge.

We shall take these items up in their order.

(1) This item is based on a charge of erroneous and deceptive borings and misrepresentations in the specifications and drawings.

By paragraph 48 of the specifications it is, among other things, provided: "The material to be excavated, as far as known [italics ours], is shown by borings, drawings of which may be seen at this office, but bidders must inform and satisfy themselves as to the nature of the material."

It is upon this paragraph the contention turns.

The allegations of the petition of claimants are to the effect that, invited by the above provision, claimants examined the drawings and they "showed gravel, sand and clay of various descriptions, and showed no other material."

That the material actually to be excavated "consisted largely of stumps below the surface of the earth, buried logs, of cemented sand and gravel (none of the sand or gravel being described in the said drawings as commented), and of sandstone conglomerate," and that such materials were far more difficult and expensive to penetrate and excavate than ordinary sand and gravel such as was described in the drawings.

That the existence of the more difficult and expensive

[ 237 U.S. Page 240]

     material was known to the persons who made the borings and to the resident engineer of the United States under whose supervision they were made; and that the statement in the specifications was untrue in fact and misleading, causing the claimants to propose to do the work upon the basis shown by the drawings and not upon the basis of the more difficult and expensive work, which in point of fact existed and was known to the officers of the United States. That claimants were forced to rely wholly upon the information furnished them, the time not being sufficient to permit them to make their own borings, and they believed the information furnished them to be accurate and reliable. That the erroneous and deceptive drawings misled claimants and they were compelled to spend $10,510.30 over and above the rates named in their proposal and contract, which rates were based upon the materials shown by such drawings.

We think the findings substantially sustain the allegations. They establish that borings were made and that the drill met "obstructions which from the particles broken off and floating to the surface would indicate they might be logs." These obstructions, though in some instances noted because of the formation, were not indicated on the drawings.

And this was found: "When such obstructions were met, the apparatus was moved elsewhere until a place was found where the drill would penetrate, and the result was recorded as if taken at the place staked out." And, further: "The boring sheets referred to in paragraph 48 of the specifications contained only the record of completed borings and do not show any record of sunken logs, or of cemented sand and gravel, or conglomerate impenetrable by the drill."

The indications of buried logs were called to the attention of the resident engineer and he was asked if they should be noted in the ...

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