588 F.2d 971 (5th Cir. 1979), 76-4455, Maderas Tropicales S. De R. L. De C. V. v. Southern Crate & Veneer Co.

Docket Nº:76-4455.
Citation:588 F.2d 971
Party Name:MADERAS TROPICALES S. de R. L. de C. V., Plaintiff-Appellant, v. SOUTHERN CRATE & VENEER COMPANY, Defendant-Appellee.
Case Date:February 01, 1979
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

Page 971

588 F.2d 971 (5th Cir. 1979)

MADERAS TROPICALES S. de R. L. de C. V., Plaintiff-Appellant,



No. 76-4455.

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

February 1, 1979

Page 972

Warren W. Wills, Jr., Atlanta, Ga., for plaintiff-appellant.

Albert P. Reichert, Jr., William F. Ladson, Jr., Macon, Ga., for defendant-appellee.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia.

Before WISDOM, AINSWORTH and CLARK, Circuit Judges.

AINSWORTH, Circuit Judge:

In this Georgia diversity action, Maderas Tropicales, a society of limited responsibility organized under the laws of Honduras, appeals from an adverse judgment rendered on a directed verdict dismissing its breach of contract action against Southern Crate & Veneer Company, a Georgia corporation. We affirm, on the ground that plaintiff has shown no writing evidencing the alleged contract in a manner sufficient to satisfy the Georgia statute of frauds. 1


Southern Crate & Veneer Company manufactures and distributes wooden crates. 2 Necessary components of the crates are wooden cleats, sticks of wood whose ends are cut at angles in order to fit together to form the frame for a wirebound crate. Cleat production involves the operation of several different sawing machines which plane lumber down to the desired thickness, cut it into pieces of appropriate length, and miter the ends to the proper angle.

In July of 1973, Haynes Willingham met with Southern Crate's principal officers and discussed the feasibility of manufacturing cleats in Honduras for sale to Southern Crate. According to Willingham's testimony, those discussions concluded with an oral agreement that, if Willingham set up a cleat-producing operation in Honduras, Southern Crate would purchase its entire output. As evidence of the alleged oral agreement, Willingham introduced a letter dated July 31, 1973, on Southern Crate stationery, signed by the president of Southern Crate, addressed "To Whom It May Concern." The letter outlined the nature of Southern Crate's operations and its demand for cleats and recited Willingham's efforts to familiarize himself with cleat production. It then affirmed, in the opinion of Southern Crate, that Willingham had sufficient knowledge to set up a cleat-producing operation. In the concluding paragraph the letter stated:

In our discussions we have informed Mr. Willingham that we stand willing and able to purchase all the cleats that he can manufacture which would cost us, F.O.B. our plant, no more than our cost of producing them here. Hopefully he will find an adequate supply of lumber at prices economical to the production of cleats and can have his operation in full swing in a matter of several months.

Page 973

The letter was used by Willingham to acquire financing and necessary licensing for the cleat operation.

During the year from July 1973 to July 1974, Willingham took the necessary steps to establish his cleat operation, including formation of Maderas...

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