American Pipe & Steel Corp. v. Firestone Tire & Rubber Co., 17158.

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
Citation292 F.2d 640
Docket NumberNo. 17158.,17158.
Decision Date25 August 1961

292 F.2d 640 (1961)


No. 17158.

United States Court of Appeals Ninth Circuit.

July 6, 1961.

Rehearing Denied August 25, 1961.

292 F.2d 641

Landon Morris, Los Angeles, Cal., for appellant.

Trippet, Yoakum, Stearns & Ballantyne, Thomas H. Carver, Los Angeles, Cal., for appellee.

Before CHAMBERS and BARNES, Circuit Judges, and BOLDT, District Judge.

BARNES, Circuit Judge.

The district court's jurisdiction in this case rests on diversity of citizenship. 28 U.S.C. § 1332. This court's jurisdiction is conferred by 28 U.S.C. § 1291.

Defendant-appellee, under contract with the United States, manufactured the "Corporal" missile. Plaintiff-appellant, under contract with appellee, manufactured containers for the missile. Appellee provided appellant with plans for the construction of the containers, the plans calling for the use of torsion bar lever arms, the purpose of which was to hold the missile in place within the container. These arms had a maximum diameter of four inches. Appellee knew (or should have known) that the contract with the government called for five inch diameter bars, and that changes in these plans could only be based on authority obtained from the government to use four inch torsion bars. Such authority was never obtained, and, as a consequence, the anticipated changes had to be made. Effecting the change required appellant to make additional expenditures. Appellee compensated appellant for the cost of the changes (in the amount of $46,259.88), under a provision of the contract requiring it to make an "equitable adjustment" for increased costs due to the execution of change orders. Appellant, however, demanded additional compensation

292 F.2d 642
for overhead losses caused by the partial work stoppage during the delay, for all of appellant's facilities had been given over to performance of the contract and at the time of the stop order metal containers were scattered over the floor of appellant's plant. Appellee denied liability for all such "indirect damages," and appellant thereupon brought this action. The trial below was limited to the issue of liability, and since judgment on that issue was for defendant, the damage issue was never reached

Appellant presents this appeal on an extremely abbreviated record. It contends that there are no factual issues, but only issues of law. The trial court, appellant maintains, concluded improperly, from facts correctly found, that appellee had made an "equitable adjustment" as required under the contract. Appellant contends that the trial court improperly relied upon federal rather than California law to interpret the term "equitable adjustment," but that under either law, such term contemplates the payment of "indirect damages."

Appellee takes issue with all of the substantive propositions advanced by appellant, and also contends that the appeal is defective because it is presented upon an inadequate record, and predicated upon statements made in the trial court's memorandum opinion, which has been completely superseded by the trial court's separate findings of fact and conclusions of law. These latter contentions being preliminary in nature should be first considered.

1. The use of the memorandum opinion.

Appellee correctly points out that the trial court's memorandum opinion ordinarily cannot be referred to in order to determine the trial court's findings of fact, when the court has made separate findings,1 and appellee further notes, correctly, that appellant purports to base some of its contentions upon facts revealed by the memorandum opinion.2 Appellee errs, however, in asserting that appellant's case is based "exclusively" on statements contained in the opinion. In fact, the findings of fact and conclusions of law are a sufficient basis for appellant's case without any reference to the memorandum opinion. It is established by the findings that appellant received no monetary compensation for its increased overhead costs (Findings 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14). The ultimate legal question, in light of this fact, is whether the court properly concluded (Conclusion of Law 1, Findings 11 and 13, R. pp. 34-35), that appellee had made the required "equitable adjustment" of appellant's increased costs due to the change order.

While the memorandum opinion, thus, does not serve as the foundation of appellant's appeal, it is useful to provide a more ample understanding of the legal issues before the court. No rule of law, of course, precludes use of the trial court's opinion for such purpose; indeed, the memorandum opinion may be used to supplement otherwise inadequate findings of fact (Stone v. Farnell, 9 Cir., 1956, 239 F.2d 750, 755).

2. The limitation of issues at pre-trial.

Appellee contends that the only issues to be decided by the trial court were set forth in the pre-trial conference order, to wit:

(a) Whether or not defendant had reasonable grounds for issuance to plaintiff of the stop work order, above referred to, and

(b) if so, if such stop work order was kept in effect by defendant for a reasonable period of time only.

The second issue is not a...

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    • February 23, 2021 favor of remand, but found itself bound by the court's earlier decision in American Pipe & Steel Corp. v. Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. , 292 F.2d 640 (9th Cir. 1961). See 79 F.3d at 954. The New SD court characterized American Pipe as standing for the principle that "the construction of s......
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    ...governs whether Government may collect interest on surety bond given to secure collection of taxes); American Pipe & Steel Corp. v. Firestone Co., 292 F.2d 640, 643—644 (C.A.9th Cir.) (construction of subcontract governed by federal law in suit between prime and sub on government contract);......
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    ...American Petroleum Corp., 384 U.S. 63, 68, 86 S.Ct. 1301, 1304, 16 L.Ed.2d 369 (1966)). Relying on American Pipe & Steel Corp. v. Firestone Tire & Rubber Co., 292 F.2d 640 (9th Cir.1961), and United States v. Taylor, 333 F.2d 633 (5th Cir.1964), the district court concluded that the governm......
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