Strong v. Willey - 104 U.S. 512 (1881)
U.S. Supreme Court
Strong v. Willey, 104 U.S. 512 (1881)
Strong v. Willey
104 U.S. 512
A case in equity, wherein an account and an injunction were prayed for, was at issue upon bill, answer, and replication. Held that the parties, by referring the matter in controversy to an arbitrator, with the stipulation that his report should be the basis of a decree, waived the objection that the complainant's remedy was at law.
Strong, in 1873, entered into a contract with the Board of Public Works of the District of Columbia for the construction of a sewer in Washington City. On the 6th of May, Willey agreed with him to build a portion of it according to the specifications set forth in that contract with the board, and to receive payment therefor at a stipulated price per foot in his orders on the board, payable in sewer bonds. Disputes having arisen, Willey filed his bill, Sept. 7, 1874, in the court below against Strong, and also made defendants the Board of Audit
for the adjustment of such indebtedness of the District, as that arising under Strong's contract. The bill alleges that the work had been performed, and that Strong, after giving certain orders on the proper authorities of the District, which had been recognized as valid assignments, was attempting to induce the Board of Audit to ignore the orders in favor of Willey. It is further alleged that there was a balance due, for the payment of which Strong refused to give an order. The bill prays for an order restraining Strong from interfering with the Board of Audit in the settlement for the work so done by Willey, and from asking or receiving any certificate, bond, order, & c., therefor, for a specific performance of the agreement set up in the bill, and for general relief.
Strong's answer admits his agreement with Willey and the work done thereunder, but avers that he had given orders for the entire payment thereof, and denies interfering with the action of the board on them. He filed, in February, 1875, his bill in the court below against Willey and his surety, the Commissioners of the District, and the Board of Audit, setting up the same contract and alleging that Willey had not complied therewith, but had been paid thereon an amount in excess of what was due him. These allegations Willey denied in his answer, and insisted that Strong was indebted to him. The matters arising upon these bills of complaint were by the respective complainants referred to the arbitrament of William B. Webb, under a stipulation that his decision was to be final and conclusive upon all questions arising in the investigation of the cases; that the court should make a final decree based upon his report, and that no exception should be made thereto. Webb made his report, finding that there was due to Willey from Strong $15,413.21, and the court passed a decree therefor accordingly.
In the entry of the decree it is stated that the court overruled the exceptions to the report, but they are not set forth in the record.
Strong filed bills of review, which were dismissed on demurrer, and he appealed.
The remaining facts are stated in the opinion of the court.