United States v. Swift & Co.
270 U.S. 124 (1926)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Swift & Co., 270 U.S. 124 (1926)

United States v. Swift & Company

Nos. 288 and 289

Submitted November 24, 1925

Decided March 1, 1926

270 U.S. 124

Syllabus

1. A finding by the Court of Claims that a general who signed a contract for army supplies was the representative of the Quartermaster's Department in that regard held conclusive on this Court as a finding of fact, or of mixed law and fact, where the result involved consideration of apparent conflicts of jurisdiction of many food supply agencies during the war, and of orders from the War Department and Quartermaster's Department, the effect of which was limited in practice, all of which were before the Court of Claims. P. 270 U. S. 137.

2. Orders for the purchase of bacon for the Army, accepted by the seller and signed by the proper representatives of the Quartermaster's Department and the Food Administration, held authorized in writing on behalf of the government. P. 270 U. S. 138.

3. The authority of the representative of the Packing House Products Branch of the Subsistence Division of the Quartermaster General's Office at Chicago, to purchase meat products for the Army, which was repeatedly exercised and recognized, was not affected by the assignment of another officer as the purchasing and contracting officer for the Packing House Products and Produce Division of the office of the Depot Quartermaster at Chicago, or his subsequent transfer to Director of Purchase and Storage. P. 270 U. S. 138.

4. Acceptance of an offer in part becomes a contract when the offerer accepts the modification. P. 270 U. S. 139.

5. It is not essential to a contract of sale that it fix a price. P. 270 U. S. 139.

6. An agreement reached by correspondence between a meat packer and representatives of the Quartermaster's Department and the Food Administration for the delivery of bacon in three successive

Page 270 U. S. 125

months, a specified quantity in each, held a contract of the government to take the total quantity, and not preliminary negotiation, although the amounts for the first two months were subsequently covered by more formal contracts fixing the price, which could not be done in advance. P. 270 U. S. 141.

7. Under the Act of March 4, 1915, providing that a contract not to be performed within sixty days and exceeding $500 in amount, where made by the Quartermaster General or by officers of the Quartermaster Corps, shall be reduced to writing and signed by the contracting parties, a contract with the Quartermaster's Department may be made by an exchange of correspondence, properly signed, and need not be in one instrument signed by both parties at the end thereof. Rev.Stats. § 3744, if to be construed otherwise, is modified by the later enactment. P. 270 U. S. 142.

8. The fact that a government contract was signed in the name of the contracting officer by a subordinate doe not render it invalid where such execution accorded with the practice of the office and was authorized, and the binding effect of the contract recognized, by the contracting officer. P. 270 U. S. 144.

9. In the absence of a market value standard, a vendor of goods which the government declines to accept under its contract is entitled to the difference between the contract price and the amount realized by the vendor through resale made in good faith with diligent effort. P. 270 U. S. 148.

10. The fact that the vendor shipped part of the goods to Europe and resold them there held no reason for denying recovery according to this rule, good faith being evident, with nothing to show that a better price could have been realized elsewhere. P. 270 U. S. 149.

59 Ct.Cls. 364 affirmed with modification.

Cross-appeals from a judgment of the Court of Claims allowing recovery of damages resulting from the government's refusal to take goods under its contract, but limiting this to the part resold by the claimant in this country, and refusing relief as to the part which it resold abroad.

Page 270 U. S. 126

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