United States v. Granite Company - 105 U.S. 37 (1881)


U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Granite Company, 105 U.S. 37 (1881)

United States v. Granite Company

105 U.S. 37

Syllabus

Where a party who delivered granite was, by the terms of his contract, to receive

"the sum of sixty-five cents per cubic foot for all stones when the quarried dimensions do not exceed twenty cubic feet in each stone, and one cent additional for every cubic foot of those having such dimensions exceeding twenty feet,"

held that where the dimensions of a stone exceed twenty feet, he is entitled for each cubic foot sixty-five cents, and one cent additional for every cubic fool of the entire stone.

The Dix Island Granite Company, a corporation created under the laws of New York, contracted with the United States to deliver at the site of the post office in the City of New York all such granite as might be required for the construction of the building, "wrought and dressed in such manner and style of workmanship" as might be directed by the United States. The latter stipulated to pay for the stone delivered

"the sum of sixty-five cents per cubic foot for all stones when the quarried dimensions do not exceed twenty cubic feet in each stone, and one cent additional for every cubic foot of those having such dimensions exceeding twenty feet."

Under the contract, the company delivered at the proper time and place 456,544 cubic feet of granite, of which quantity 353,728 cubic feet were in stones the quarried dimensions of which severally exceeded twenty cubic feet. In the settlement of the account, the parties disagreed as to the stipulated price per cubic foot of stones the general dimensions of which exceeded twenty feet. The Treasury Department construed the clause as allowing for each cubic foot of the stone sixty-five cents, and one cent additional for every cubic foot exceeding twenty -- thus, if the stone contained twenty-one cubic feet, the price for each cubic foot of the entire stone was to be sixty-six cents; if it contained twenty-two cubic feet, the price for each was to be sixty-seven cents, and so on, increasing the price one cent for each additional cubic foot. On the other hand, the company construed the clause as allowing for each cubic foot of the stone sixty-five cents, and one cent additional for every cubic foot of the entire stone -- thus, if the stone

Page 105 U. S. 38

contained twenty-one cubic feet, the price was to be sixty-five cents plus twenty-one cents -- that is, eighty-six cents a cubic foot of the entire stone; if it contained twenty-two cubic feet, the price was to be eighty-seven cents, and so on, adding to the sixty-five cents one cent for each cubic foot of the entire stone. The difference in the amounts resulting from the two interpretations as to the price of the granite delivered was $70,745.74.

The amount allowed by the department was paid on account, the question of the construction of the clause being reserved for judicial decision. The company thereupon brought the present action in the Court of Claims for the difference. Other demands were also included in the action, but as they were disallowed and the company has not appealed, no reference need be made to them. For the difference in the price of the stone mentioned above the company recovered judgment, and the case is brought here for review.



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