142 F.2d 854 (4th Cir. 1944), 5224, Agostini Bros. Bldg. Corporation v. United States on Behalf of and for use of Virginia-Carolina Electrical Works

Docket Nº5224.
Citation142 F.2d 854
Party NameAGOSTINI BROS. BLDG. CORPORATION et al. v. UNITED STATES on Behalf of and For Use of VIRGINIA-CAROLINA ELECTRICAL WORKS, Inc.
Case DateJune 02, 1944
CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

Page 854

142 F.2d 854 (4th Cir. 1944)

AGOSTINI BROS. BLDG. CORPORATION et al.

v.

UNITED STATES on Behalf of and For Use of VIRGINIA-CAROLINA ELECTRICAL WORKS, Inc.

No. 5224.

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit.

June 2, 1944

Page 855

John Joseph Baecher, of Norfolk, Va. (Earl W. White, of Norfolk, Va., on the brief), for appellants.

R. Arthur Jett, of Norfolk, Va., for appellee.

Before PARKER, DOBIE, and NORTHCOTT, Circuit Judges.

PARKER, Circuit Judge.

This is an appeal from an order refusing to stay proceedings pursuant to section 3 of the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C.A. § 3. Action had been instituted under the Miller Act, 40 U.S.C.A. §§ 270a-270d, by a subcontractor against a contractor and the surety on the latter's bond to recover for labor and materials furnished in the construction of a government building. Motion was made by the defendants therein to stay proceedings until arbitration could be had pursuant to the terms of the contract between the parties, which provided for the arbitration of all controversies. The stay was denied by the District Judge on the ground that, since the contract was not one involving maritime transactions or transactions within commerce as defined in the Arbitration Act, stay of proceedings was not authorized by that act. The defendants have appealed from the order denying the stay, which has been held to be appealable. Shanferoke Coal & Supply Corp. v. Westchester Service Corp., 293 U.S. 449, 55 S.Ct. 313, 79 L.Ed. 583.

Section 3 of the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C.A. § 3, under which stay was asked is as follows: 'If any suit or proceeding be brought in any of the courts of the United States upon any issue referable to arbitration under an agreement in writing for such arbitration, the court in which such suit is pending, upon being satisfied that the issue involved in such suit or proceeding is referable to arbitration under such an agreement, shall on application of one of the parties stay the trial of the action until such arbitration has been had in accordance with the terms of the agreement, providing the applicant for the stay is not in default in proceeding with such arbitration.'

There can be no question that, under language of this section, defendants were entitled to the stay asked. The court below was of opinion, however, that the broad and general language used should be held to be limited to the class of cases in which Congress had legislated as to the validity of arbitration agreements by Section 2 of the Act, 9 U.S.C.A. § 2, which provides: 'A written provision in any maritime transaction or a contract evidencing a transaction involving commerce to settle by arbitration a controversy thereafter arising out of such contract or transaction, or the refusal to perform the whole or any part thereof, or an agreement in writing to submit to arbitration an existing controversy arising out of such a contract, transaction, or refusal, shall be valid, irrevocable, and enforceable, save upon such grounds as exist at law or in equity for the revocation of any contract.'

We see no reason to thus limit the plain meaning of the general language used in section 3. Congress gave its approval to the principle of arbitration by the enactment of the statute (Shanferoke v. Westchester Service Corp., supra, 293 U.S. 449, 453, 55 S.Ct. 313, 79 L.Ed. 583); and it manifestly intended to exercise its full power in furtherance of the principle. The statute was

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entitled 'An act to make valid and enforceable written provisions and agreements for arbitration of disputes arising out of contracts, maritime transactions, or commerce among the States or Territories or with foreign nations.' 43 Stat. 883, 9 U.S.C.A. § 1-15. As introduced into Congress, section 2 of the act provided for the validity and enforceability of arbitration agreements 'in any contract or maritime transaction or transaction involving commerce. ' The Senate Committee struck the word...

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