Kellogg Bridge Co. v. Hamilton
110 U.S. 108 (1884)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Kellogg Bridge Co. v. Hamilton, 110 U.S. 108 (1884)

Kellogg Bridge Company v. Hamilton

Submitted October 31, 1883

Decided January 14, 1884

110 U.S. 108


A bridge company, having partially executed a contract for the construction of a bridge, entered into a written agreement with a person whereby the latter undertook, for a named sum and within a specified time, to complete its erection. The subcontractor agreed to assume and pay for all work done and material furnished up to that time by the company. Assuming this work to have been sufficient for the purposes for which it was designed, the subcontractor proceeded with his undertaking, but the insufficiency of the work previously done by the company was disclosed during the progress of the erection of the bridge. No statement or representation was made by the company as to the quality of the work it had done. Its insufficiency, however, was not apparent upon inspection, and could not have been discovered by the subcontractor until actually tested daring the erection of the bridge. Held that the law implied a warranty that the work sold or transferred to the subcontractor was reasonably sufficient for the purposes for which the company knew it was designed.

The Kellogg Bridge Company, the defendant below, undertook to construct, for the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railroad Company, an iron bridge across Maumee River at Toledo, Ohio. After doing a portion of the work, it entered into a written contract with the defendant in error for the completion of the bridge under its directions, containing among others, these stipulations:

"That the said party of the first part [Hamilton] hereby agrees to furnish and prepare all the necessary false work and erect the iron bridge now being constructed by the said party of the second part [the Kellogg Bridge Company] for the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railroad Company at Toledo, Ohio, over the Maumee River, receiving said bridge material as it arrives on the cars at the site of said bridge and erecting the same in the best manner, according to the design of said bridge and the directions of said second party from time to time, commencing the erection of said work when required to do so by said second party, and proceeding

Page 110 U. S. 109

with the same with a force sufficient to complete the entire work on or before the first day of March next; the said first party also agrees to assume and pay for all work done and materials furnished up to the time of executing this contract, including piling and piles, timber, and other materials and labor done on the same, but not including bolts and washers which have been furnished by the party of the second part, but to return said bolts and washers to the said second party, or pay for the same on completion of said bridge. And the said first party in consideration of the payments hereinafter mentioned, to be made by said second party, agrees to perform all the stipulations of this agreement in a through and workmanlike manner and to the satisfaction of the second party."

And if at any time the said second party is not satisfied with the manner of performing the work herein described, or the rapidity with which it is being done, the second party shall have full power and liberty to put on such force as may be necessary to complete the work within the time named, and provide such tools or materials for false work as may be necessary, and charge the cost of the same to the said first party, who agrees to pay therefor.

In consideration of the faithful performance of these stipulations, Hamilton was to receive from the Bridge Company $900 on the completion of the first span, a like sum on the completion of the second span, $800 on the completion of the third span, and $1,403 on the completion of the draw and the entire work -- such payments to be made only on the acceptance of each part of the work by the chief engineer of the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railroad Company.

The bridge which Hamilton undertook to erect consisted of three independent fixed spans, each to be 175 feet 6 inches in length, suspended between and resting at each end of the span upon stone piers, which had been prepared to receive the same, and one draw span of one hundred and eighty-five feet in length, resting upon a pier in the center, also then prepared. In erecting the several spans, it was necessary to build and use what the contract describes as "false work," which consisted of piles driven in the river between

Page 110 U. S. 110

the piers upon which the spans were to rest, and upon which was placed a platform.

As indicated in the written contract, the bridge company had previously constructed a part of this false work between the first and second spans, the cost of which Hamilton paid, as by the contract he agreed to do. Assuming this work to be sufficient for the purposes for which it was designed, Hamilton proceeded to complete the erection of the bridge according to the plans furnished him.

There was evidence before the jury tending to establish the following facts:

A part of the false work or scaffolding put up by the company sank under the weight of the first span, and was replaced by Hamilton. When the second fixed span was about two-thirds completed, the ice which before that had formed in the river broke up in consequence of a flood, carrying away the false work under that span and causing the whole of the iron material then in place on the span or on the span ready to be put in place, to fall in the river, which at that place was about sixteen feet deep. If the piles driven by the bridge company had been driven more firmly into the bed of the river, they would have withstood the force of the ice and flood. In consequence of the insufficiency of the false work done by that company, Hamilton was delayed in the completion of the bridge and subjected to increased expense.

The bridge being completed, Hamilton brought suit in the state court to recover the contract price of the bridge, extra work claimed to have been done on it, and damages sustained by reason of the insufficiency of the false work constructed by the Bridge Company: in all, $3,693.78. The cause was removed to the circuit court of the United States, where the Bridge Company answered, setting up a counterclaim for $6,619.70. Trial was had with verdict and judgment for plaintiff for $3,039.89. The cause was removed to the circuit court of the United States, where the Bridge Company answered, setting up a counterclaim for $6,619.70. Trial was had with verdict and judgment for plaintiff for $3,039.89. The defendant below brought a writ of error to reverse that judgment.

Page 110 U. S. 111

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