Southern Construction Company v. Pickard

PETITIONER: Southern Construction Company
LOCATION: Clauson's Inn

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962-1965)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

CITATION: 371 US 57 (1962)
ARGUED: Oct 16, 1962
DECIDED: Oct 16, 1962

Facts of the case


Media for Southern Construction Company v. Pickard

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 16, 1962 in Southern Construction Company v. Pickard

Earl Warren:

Number 46, Southern Construction Company versus Pickard.

Mr. Harbison.

William Harbison:

May it please the Court.

If the Court please, in the interest of time, if this is agreed with the Court the two sides would be willing to split the remaining time for the day if that is satisfactory with the Court.

Earl Warren:


William Harbison:

I think we state our points very briefly, if the Court please.

Earl Warren:

That will be agreeable.

William Harbison:

Alright, sir and so I will take just about 10 or 12 minutes, if the Court please.

May it please the Court, these are -- this is a Miller Act case arising in the Middle District of Tennessee.

The case is here on writ of certiorari to the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

If the Court please, briefly, I can state the situation.

This is a procedure case involving Rule 13 (a) or one of the other rules, Rule 8 in which, we have this situation, may it please the Court, and I think there is no dispute really about the underlying facts.

Southern Construction Company is in the general contracting business and had two separates sets of contracts with the United States Government for the rehabilitation of barracks.

One set of these contracts was at Fort Benning, Georgia, the other contract a much smaller one was at Fort Campbell, Tennessee.

The two contracts were let separately and there was no -- nothing in common between them except it happened to be the same general contractor.

It happened also that the Pickard Engineering Company of Washington D.C. was the mechanical subcontractor, the successful bidder on each set of contracts, submitting a bid in Georgia and being awarded the subcontract there, another bid in Tennessee, being awarded the bid there.

The work on the two contracts, however, proceeded simultaneously and Pickard had one common supplier furnishing the majority of his materials being the Atlas Supply Company of Atlanta, Georgia from whom he bought most of the materials that he put into both of these two jobs.

Pickard left both jobs, if the Court please, before they were complete under circumstances that are not now particularly material except that he left the Fort Campbell job in December 1955, he left the Fort Benning jobs shortly after that and Southern the prime contractor completed both jobs.

At the time when Pickard left, if the Court please, he owed admittedly on account at Fort Campbell, Tennessee to at least of $34,520.

He had so certified to Southern and Atlas had also billed Southern in that amount.

At the time he left Fort Benning, Georgia, Atlas claimed that Southern owed it or that Pickard owed it and Southern secondarily under the Miller Act a $104,000.

The record in this shows that Southern never disputed the account at Fort Campbell, Tennessee, had no basis upon which they disputed.

But it disputed in its entirely the billing made to it because it was liable under the Miller Act by Atlas at Fort Benning, Georgia and denied any validity to that account whatever of Mr. Pickard's.

If the Court please, businessmen don't always act as one might wish them to act and in August 1956, Southern and Atlas met together and Southern paid Atlas a lump sum of $35,000 and accepted a complete release of it's liability to Atlas under the Miller Act on both jobs.

Those -- that check is in the record.

The money was paid.

There is no dispute about that.

The money -- the payment was not allocated by Southern at that time to either job, both of them had some -- had gone to substantial completion.

Mr. Pickard was shown of the record to be insolvent and Southern simply did not make an allocation at that time.

They just made the payment and settled a business transaction and the check is in the record.