Chandler v. Washington Toll Bridge Authority, 28933.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Washington
Citation17 Wn.2d 591,137 P.2d 97
Decision Date26 April 1943
Docket Number28933.
PartiesCHANDLER v. WASHINGTON TOLL BRIDGE AUTHORITY et al.

137 P.2d 97

17 Wn.2d 591

CHANDLER
v.
WASHINGTON TOLL BRIDGE AUTHORITY et al.

No. 28933.

Supreme Court of Washington

April 26, 1943


Department 2.

Action by Elbert M. Chandler against Washington Toll Bridge Authority, an administrative body, and others, to recover for services which plaintiff allegedly performed by way of preparation of estimates, surveys, maps and other items which he prepared in connection with the then proposed construction of a toll bridge. From a judgment dismissing the action with prejudice, following sustaining of defendant's demurrer to complaint and plaintiff's refusal to plead further, the plaintiff appeals.

Affirmed.

MILLARD, J., dissenting. [137 P.2d 98]

[17 Wn.2d 592] Appeal from Superior Court, Thurston County; D. F. Wright, judge.

Charles T. Peterson, of Tacoma, for appellant.

Harold A. Pebbles, Atty. Gen., and R. A. Moen, of Olympia, for respondents.

BEALS, Justice.

Elbert M. Chandler instituted this action against Washington Toll Bridge Authority, demanding [17 Wn.2d 593] judgment for over $82,000, basing his demand upon services which he performed by way of the preparation of estimates, surveys, maps and other items which he prepared prior to 1936 in connection with the then proposed construction of a toll bridge across that portion of Puget Sound knows as the 'Tacoma Narrows.' In his complaint, plaintiff alleged that the material which he prepared was adopted by the defendant, an administrative agency of the state of Washington, to its profit and beneficial use, at and after the time defendant applied to and received from the Federal government loans and grants with which to finance the construction of the structure known as the Tacoma Narrows bridge.

The defendant demurred to plaintiff's complaint upon all the statutory grounds. After extensive argument, the trial court [137 P.2d 99] sustained defendant's demurrer, apparently upon the ground that the complaint failed to state facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action, and upon plaintiff's refusal to plead further, judgment was entered dismissing the action with prejudice, from which plaintiff has appealed.

Error is assigned upon the entry of the order sustaining the demurrer, and upon the entry of judgment of dismissal.

The facts upon which appellant's claim is based may be briefly stated as follows: By Laws of 1929, chapter 62, the legislature granted to three individuals a franchise authorizing them to construct, maintain and operate a bridge across the Narrows, subject to approval by the United States War Department of the plans and specifications therefor. The act provided that the franchise would terminate unless construction of the bridge was commenced within two years. By Laws of 1931, chapter 93, the franchise was extended, that act also containing a provision that the [17 Wn.2d 594] franchise would terminate if construction was not commenced within two years of the effective date of the act. As the construction of the bridge was not commenced within the time limitation, the franchise last referred to expired by limitation, June 10, 1933.

Prior to that date, however, the holders of the franchise entered into a contract with appellant (a copy of which was attached to appellant's complaint), whereby appellant agreed to make all surveys, soundings, etc., necessary for the preparation of plans for the bridge construction, and also agreed to prepare, at his own expense, on or Before January 31, 1933, an application to the War Department for permission to build the bridge. The contract provided that if the War Department refused to grant a permit, the agreement should end. The franchise holders also reserved to themselves the right to terminate the contract. The parties further agreed that appellant would, at his own cost, prepare data which should be presented to the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (hereinafter referred to as R. F. C.), an agency of the Federal government, to be used as a basis for obtaining Federal funds to be used in financing the project; that appellant would make, with the Federal agency referred to, all necessary financial arrangements, and upon procuring an agreement from the agency to finance the project, would commence construction of the bridge by June 1, 1933; and that if this was not accomplished, the holders of the franchise might terminate the contract. Among other provisions, the agreement contained the following:

'6 The builder [appellant] shall and will promptly supply the franchise holders with true and correct copies of the originals of all information, data, estimates, plans correspondence, papers and documents of every kind, nature and description. This covenant is independent of the success or failure of the project and [17 Wn.2d 595] is intended to assure to the franchise holders and any one else who may be interested with them or in a public way that all information of value relative to the construction of a highway across the Narrows may be available for any future use. If, for any reason, this contract shall be terminated, then the builder shall and will deliver to the original franchise holders all original documents, estimates, plans, or information of every kind which may have come into his hands.'

By this portion of the agreement, appellant in effect agreed, by an independent covenant, that if work on the bridge was not commenced within the period specified in the contract, the public should be entitled to the benefit of any of the work which he should have performed by way of preparation of plans, specifications, or similar data.

Appellant alleged that he secured the necessary permit from the War Department under date January 17, 1933 (attaching a copy of this permit to the complaint), and that he, a few days later, prepared and filed with the R. F. C. an application for a loan, setting forth all data necessary to afford the basis for a loan by the Federal agency.

In his complaint, appellant alleged that the R. F. C. found that the project was eligible for a loan, but this allegation is apparently contradicted by two letters from an officer of the agency, dated, respectively, July 10 and July 11, 1933, which appellant attached to his complaint as exhibits G-1 and G-2. In any event, while the matter was pending Before the R. F. C., the Public Works Administration (hereinafter referred to as P. W. A.), June 16, 1933, assumed the functions of the R. F. C. relative to the advancement of Federal funds in aid of such projects.

Pursuant to Laws of 1931, chapter 93, the franchise thereby granted expired by statutory limitation June 10, 1933, no actual [137 P.2d 100] construction of the project having been commenced on or prior to that date.

[17 Wn.2d 596] November 6, 1933, by a supplemental agreement between appellant and the franchise holders, the latter purported to extend to December 31, 1934, the time for 'adequately financing the project.' At the date of the execution of this supplemental agreement, the franchise had expired by statutory limitation, as above set forth.

By chapter 18 enacted at the special session of the legislature in 1933 (effective January 13, 1934), counties were authorized to apply for Federal loans to be used in the construction of toll bridges. January 16, 1934, appellant entered into a contract with Pierce county, acting through its county commissioners, the county then proposing to erect a bridge over the Narrows, whereby the county employed appellant in the capacity of chief engineer, to make surveys and tests and provide plans and specifications for the proposed bridge. Appellant was also to supervise the construction of the bridge, and to receive for his services a fee equal to ten per cent of the cost. The contract provided that in the event the county should be unable to finance the construction, the agreement might be declared at an end, without any liability to appellant for moneys expended or services rendered.

While the matter does not appear to be of importance here, it should be noted that by Laws of 1935, chapter 181, the legislature authorized the chairman of the board of Pierce county commissioners and two other persons, or their successors, to construct, maintain and operate a bridge across the Narrows. The act provided that the authority therein granted should cease unless the actual construction of the bridge authorized by the act was commenced within two years from the effective date of the act. It does not appear that anything was ever accomplished pursuant to the authority above referred to.

[17 Wn.2d 597] In the course of the various employments above referred to, appellant organized a corporation under the title of Tacoma Narrows Bridge Company, which corporation was in fact the alter ego of appellant.

By the agreement between appellant and the county, the corporation last referred to assigned to Pierce county all its rights, privileges and contracts in connection with the proposed project.

Pursuant to his contract with the county, appellant prepared further data, and went to Washington, D. C., where he appeared Before the Federal agency having authority to advance Federal funds in aid of such projects. September 19, 1934, the P. W. A., the Federal agency then having charge of such matters, notified appellant that the bridge project was eligible for a loan and grant, but that no funds were then available. The project, however, was placed upon a preferred list, where it remained from September, 1934, to April 1, 1937.

By Laws of 1937, chapter 173 (Rem.Rev.Stat. (Sup.), §§ 6524-1 et seq.), the legislature established 'Washington Toll Bridge Authority,' which act was approved by the governor March 16, 1937. By § 3 of this act, the Authority (respondent) was empowered to determine the matter of the practicability and the necessity of any proposed toll bridge, to provide for the construction of approved toll bridges,...

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139 practice notes
  • Ruiz v. Fernandez, No. CV–11–3088–RMP.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of Washington
    • 7 June 2013
    ...MacDonald v. Hayner, 43 Wash.App. 81, 85–86, 715 P.2d 519 (1986) (quoting Chandler v. Wash. Toll Bridge Auth., 17 Wash.2d 591, 604, 137 P.2d 97 (1943)). Plaintiffs' citation to D'Amato v. Lillie, is unpersuasive. 401 Fed.Appx. 291 (9th Cir.2008) (unpublished opinion). In D'Amato the Ninth C......
  • Young v. Young, No. 79207-1.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • 11 September 2008
    ...contracts 191 P.3d 1262 implied in law and contracts implied in fact. See Chandler v. Wash. Toll Bridge Auth., 17 Wash.2d 591, 600, 137 P.2d 97 (1943) ("[T]he law recognizes two classes of implied contracts: those implied in fact, and others implied in law."). See also Martin v. Campanaro, ......
  • First Am. Title Ins. Co. v. Liberty Capital Starpoint Equity Fund Llc, No. 65251–6–I–I.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Washington
    • 5 May 2011
    ...or retained make it unjust for the defendant to keep the benefit without paying. Chandler v. Wash. Toll Bridge Auth., 17 Wash.2d 591, 601, 137 P.2d 97 (1943). ¶ 26 The UOs fail to show why it is unjust for their title insurer, First American Title Insurance Company, to pay $1.3 million when......
  • Rekhter v. State, No. 86822–1.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • 3 April 2014
    ...contract relating to the same matter, in contravention of the express contract.” Chandler v. Wash. Toll Bridge Auth., 17 Wash.2d 591, 604, 137 P.2d 97 (1943) (reviewing a claim premised on a contract implied-in-law). However, there may be an “ ‘implied contract on a point not covered by an ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
139 cases
  • Ruiz v. Fernandez, No. CV–11–3088–RMP.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of Washington
    • 7 June 2013
    ...MacDonald v. Hayner, 43 Wash.App. 81, 85–86, 715 P.2d 519 (1986) (quoting Chandler v. Wash. Toll Bridge Auth., 17 Wash.2d 591, 604, 137 P.2d 97 (1943)). Plaintiffs' citation to D'Amato v. Lillie, is unpersuasive. 401 Fed.Appx. 291 (9th Cir.2008) (unpublished opinion). In D'Amato the Ninth C......
  • Young v. Young, No. 79207-1.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • 11 September 2008
    ...contracts 191 P.3d 1262 implied in law and contracts implied in fact. See Chandler v. Wash. Toll Bridge Auth., 17 Wash.2d 591, 600, 137 P.2d 97 (1943) ("[T]he law recognizes two classes of implied contracts: those implied in fact, and others implied in law."). See also Martin v. Campanaro, ......
  • First Am. Title Ins. Co. v. Liberty Capital Starpoint Equity Fund Llc, No. 65251–6–I–I.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Washington
    • 5 May 2011
    ...or retained make it unjust for the defendant to keep the benefit without paying. Chandler v. Wash. Toll Bridge Auth., 17 Wash.2d 591, 601, 137 P.2d 97 (1943). ¶ 26 The UOs fail to show why it is unjust for their title insurer, First American Title Insurance Company, to pay $1.3 million when......
  • Rekhter v. State, No. 86822–1.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • 3 April 2014
    ...contract relating to the same matter, in contravention of the express contract.” Chandler v. Wash. Toll Bridge Auth., 17 Wash.2d 591, 604, 137 P.2d 97 (1943) (reviewing a claim premised on a contract implied-in-law). However, there may be an “ ‘implied contract on a point not covered by an ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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