820 F.2d 643 (3rd Cir. 1987), 86-1539, T.J. Trauner Associates, Inc. v. Cooper-Benton, Inc.

Docket Nº:86-1539.
Citation:820 F.2d 643
Party Name:T.J. TRAUNER ASSOCIATES, INC., Appellant, v. COOPER-BENTON, INC. and Demetree Industries, Inc.
Case Date:June 12, 1987
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
 
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Page 643

820 F.2d 643 (3rd Cir. 1987)

T.J. TRAUNER ASSOCIATES, INC., Appellant,

v.

COOPER-BENTON, INC. and Demetree Industries, Inc.

No. 86-1539.

United States Court of Appeals, Third Circuit

June 12, 1987

Submitted Pursuant to Third Circuit Rule 12(6) Feb. 20, 1987.

Page 644

Michael H. Payne, Starfield & Payne, Fort Washington, Pa., for appellant.

John J. Soroko, Duane, Morris & Heckscher, Philadelphia, Pa., for appellees.

Before SLOVITER and STAPLETON, Circuit Judges, and ROTH, District Judge [*].

OPINION

ROTH, District Judge:

T.J. Trauner Associates, Inc. (Trauner Inc.) appeals a decision by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, granting the motion for summary judgment of appellees, Cooper-Benton, Inc. (Cooper) and Demetree Industries, Inc. (Demetree). The district court found that the Pennsylvania law of accord and satisfaction barred plaintiff from recovering the monies claimed in its suit. Our review of the grant of a motion for summary judgment is plenary, to determine "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). Maldonado v. Ramirez, 757 F.2d 48, 49 (3d Cir.1985); Kahn v. United States, 753 F.2d 1208, 1210 (3d Cir.1985). For the reasons we set out below, we find that there are genuine issues of material fact and we reverse the decision of the district court.

BACKGROUND

Appellant Trauner Inc. is a professional construction consulting firm. Appellees Cooper and Demetree are construction companies that hired Trauner Inc. to provide expert services in preparing a claim for uncompensated costs, arising from a construction project in which appellees were involved in Florida. Cooper and Demetree engaged Trauner Inc. pursuant to a letter-agreement written by Theodore J. Trauner, Jr. (Mr. Trauner), president of Trauner Inc., on April 23, 1982, in which Trauner Inc. agreed to perform a detailed analysis and investigation of the Florida project and prepare a report on its findings. The letter contained a fee schedule with an outline of hourly charges and an estimated cost of the designated services of $25,100. The letter also stated that, as to certain "support services" which might become necessary, including assistance in settlement negotiations and trial preparation, no accurate estimate could be given and, in fact, none was provided. Fees for all services, whether designated or "support," were to be computed on an hourly basis in accordance with the fee...

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