J. W. Bateson Company, Inc. v. United States ex rel. Board of Trustees of National Automatic Sprinkler Industry Pension Fund

PETITIONER: J. W. Bateson Company, Inc.
RESPONDENT: United States ex rel. Board of Trustees of National Automatic Sprinkler Industry Pension Fund
LOCATION: Seneca County Court

DOCKET NO.: 76-1476
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

CITATION: 434 US 586 (1978)
ARGUED: Nov 30, 1977
DECIDED: Feb 22, 1978

ADVOCATES:
Donald J. Capuano - for respondents
Jack Rephan - for petitioners

Facts of the case

Question

Media for J. W. Bateson Company, Inc. v. United States ex rel. Board of Trustees of National Automatic Sprinkler Industry Pension Fund

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 30, 1977 in J. W. Bateson Company, Inc. v. United States ex rel. Board of Trustees of National Automatic Sprinkler Industry Pension Fund

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - February 22, 1978 in J. W. Bateson Company, Inc. v. United States ex rel. Board of Trustees of National Automatic Sprinkler Industry Pension Fund

Thurgood Marshall:

In the other case J.W. Bateson Co., is from the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and the question in that case is whether a firm that is technically a sub-contractor, can be considered a sub-contractor for purposes of recovery by its employees under a Miller Act payment bond.

Petitioners had a construction contract with the United States government and pasted a payment bond as required by the Act.

Petitioner sub-contracted part of the work to a firm known as Pierce Associates which in turn sub-contracted a part with Colquitt Sprinkler Co..

When Colquitt defaulted on certain of its obligations to its employees and their union, the union filed against petitioner under the Miller Act.

The District Court granted summary judgment for respondents and the Court of Appeals affirmed.

By an opinion filed with the clerk today, we reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals.

The statutory language in the legislative history make clear that Congress meant the term sub-contractor as used in the act to include only those who had a contract with the prime contractor.

Colquitt could have confessed - could have claimed against the bond appears defaulted the employees of Colquitt were not similarly protected, because they did not have a contractual relationship with Pierce or any other sub-contractor.

Virtually, all reported decisions to consider this question had concluded as we do at those who contracted with a sub-contractor are not protected by the Miller Act payment bond.

Mr. Justice Stevens has filed a dissenting opinion, to which Mr. Justice Brennan joins.

Mr. Justice Blackmun took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you Mr. Justice Marshall.