F.D. Rich Company, Inc. v. United States for the Use of Industrial Lumber Company

PETITIONER: F.D. Rich Company, Inc.
RESPONDENT: United States for the Use of Industrial Lumber Company
LOCATION: Central Intelligence Agency Headquarters

DOCKET NO.: 72-1382
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

CITATION: 417 US 116 (1974)
ARGUED: Jan 09, 1974
DECIDED: May 28, 1974

ADVOCATES:
Dennis S. Harlowe - for respondent
Lawrence Gochberg - for petitioners

Facts of the case

Question

Media for F.D. Rich Company, Inc. v. United States for the Use of Industrial Lumber Company

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 09, 1974 in F.D. Rich Company, Inc. v. United States for the Use of Industrial Lumber Company

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - May 28, 1974 in F.D. Rich Company, Inc. v. United States for the Use of Industrial Lumber Company

Thurgood Marshall:

In 72-1382, F.D. Rich Co. against the United States for the use and benefit of the Industrial Lumbar Co., is here on writ of certiorari to the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Petitioner was the prime contractor for Federal Housing Project being constructed in California.

As required by the Miller Act, petitioner posted a payment bond, then led two contracts on the project through Cerpac Company, one being to select, detail and install custom millwork; and the other to supply standard plywood for the project.

To satisfy the plywood project, Cerpac purchased the required lumber from the respondent.

One shipment of this lumber was later diverted to the site of another project being constructed by petitioner in South Carolina.

When Cerpac defaulted in its payment for the Lumbar, the respondent filed a Miller Act claim against petitioner, the prime contractor on the California project.

The District Court ran a judgment for the respondent and the amount due on the unpaid invoices, but denied respondent’s claim for attorney’s fees.

The Court of Appeals affirmed in all other relevant respects, held that attorney’s fees should have been awarded the respondent as a successful Miller Act complainer.

For reasons set forth in opinion filed today, we affirmed that judgment of the Court of Appeals insofar as it holds respondent liable on the unpaid invoices including the amount due on the shipment diverted to South Carolina.

But we reversed the judgment insofar that holds that petitioner should be liable for an award of attorney’s fees under the Miller Act.

Mr. Justice Douglas has filed a dissenting opinion.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you Mr. Justice Marshall.