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BOWERS HYDRAULIC DREDGING COMPANY v. UNITED STATES.

decided: November 30, 1908.

BOWERS HYDRAULIC DREDGING COMPANY
v.
UNITED STATES.



APPEAL FROM THE COURT OF CLAIMS.

Author: White

[ 211 U.S. Page 180]

 MR. JUSTICE WHITE delivered the opinion of the court.

The appellant, the dredge company, sued to recover $28,321.76. The relief sought was based on the averment that under a contract for dredging a channel, in the Christiana River and in or about the harbor of Wilmington, Delaware, made in 1899, and a supplementary contract made in June, 1901, the dredge company had excavated 260,430 cubic yards

[ 211 U.S. Page 181]

     of earth, for which, at the contract price, it should have been paid the sum sued for, but that the United States, in making settlement under the contract, despite the protest of the dredge company, had declined to pay, upon the ground that excavating and removing the earth referred to was not within the contract. The pertinent facts found by the court below are these (41 C. Cl. 214, 498):

Prior to September, 1899, the United States was engaged in excavating a channel in the Christiana River and about the harbor of Wilmington, Delaware. The work, in September, 1899, was in process of execution, under a contract between the United States and the New York Dredging Company. In the office of the United States engineer in charge of the work there existed maps or drawings showing the condition of the river prior to any work being done by the New York Dredging Company, the location of the channel in which the work was being done, and the specifications controlling the contract, as well as the progress made in the work. Of these facts the dredge company had knowledge. On September 18, 1899, the United States engineer office at Wilmington, through William F. Smith, United States agent, advertised for proposals for the dredging and removing of about nine hundred thousand cubic yards of material in connection with the work then being done, as previously stated. In the advertisement inviting the proposals it was stated that specifications, blank forms for proposals, and all available information would be furnished on application to the engineer office. The specifications for the work in question recited:

"The project, for the completion of which contracts are authorized in the law above quoted, requires the dredging of the Christiana River to a depth of 21 feet at mean low water from the 21-foot curve in the Delaware River to the upper line of the pulp works; thence to the draw pier of the Shellpot branch, No. 4, of the P., W. & B.R.R., so as to give a depth which gradually diminishes to 10 feet at mean low water at the latter-named place and the removal of shoals having less

[ 211 U.S. Page 182]

     than seven (7) feet of water over them; thence to Newport -- the width to be 250 feet to the mouth of the Brandywine, 200 feet thence to the upper line of the pulp works, and 100 feet above. Work is now in progress under contracts for dredging to a depth of 18 feet up to the pulp works, the width to be made being 200 feet, and for all above-described dredging above the pulp works. The work required under these specifications is the dredging that remains to complete the project additional to that done or to be done under the contracts above referred to until their termination or completion. It is estimated that about 900,000 cubic yards will have to be removed."

The character of the work required, the method of carrying on the same and the steps to be taken to fix the amount to become due under the contract when fully performed were stated in the specifications as follows:

"The amount of material removed will be paid for by the cubic yard measured in place, and shall be determined by surveys made before dredging is commenced and after it is completed. All surveys and measurements are to be made under the direction of the engineer in charge by persons employed by him for that purpose. The decision of the engineer in charge as to the amount of material excavated and removed, as well as to its location and deposit, shall be final and without appeal on the part of the contractor.

"The location of the work shall be plainly located by stakes and ranges. The level of mean low water as established by the engineer in charge shall not be changed during the progress of the work. The contractor shall be required to supply the lumber for the necessary stakes and ranges, and shall at all times when called upon furnish men and boats to set them and keep them set under the direction of the inspector, the expense thereof to be included in the contract price for the dredging.

"No guarantee is given as to the nature of the bottom, but as far as it is known it is sand, mud, ...


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