Hays v. Port of Seattle, No. 70

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtPITNEY
Citation40 S.Ct. 125,251 U.S. 233,64 L.Ed. 243
Docket NumberNo. 70
Decision Date05 January 1920
PartiesHAYS v. PORT OF SEATTLE et al

251 U.S. 233
40 S.Ct. 125
64 L.Ed. 243
HAYS

v.

PORT OF SEATTLE et al.

No. 70.
Argued Nov. 12, 1919.
Decided Jan. 5, 1920.

Mr. William F. Hays, of Seattle, Wash., pro se.

Messrs. L. T. Turner, C. E. Claypool, and Harold Preston, all of Seattle, Wash., for appellees.

Page 234

Mr. Justice PITNEY delivered the opinion of the Court.

Appellant filed his bill in equity for an injunction to restrain the enforcement of an act of the Legislature of the state of Washington, approved March 11, 1913 (Sess. Laws, p. 195), entitled 'An act vacating a portion of Smith's Cove waterway, in the city of Seattle, and vesting the title of the vacated portion in the port of Seattle,' upon the ground (a) that it impaired the obligation of an existing contract between him and the state, in violation of section 10 of article 1 of the Constitution of the United States; and (b) that it deprived him of property without due process of law, contrary to section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment. The District Court on final hearing dismissed the bill (226 Fed. 287), and the case is brought here by direct appeal under section 238, Judicial Code (Act March 3, 1911, c. 231, 36 Stat. 1157 [Comp. St. § 1215]), because of the constitutional questions.

The facts, shortly stated are as follows: Under an act of the Legislature approved March 9, 1893 (Sess. Laws, p. 241), which made provision for the excavation by private contract of waterways for the uses of navigation, complainant and another party to whose rights he has succeeded obtained a contract with the state, acting by the Commissioner of Public Lands, which was approved by the Governor on March 7, 1896. It provided for the excavation by complainant of Smith's Cove waterway, in Seattle Harbor, extending from the outer harbor line through the intervening tide lands to the head of Smith's Cove, the excavated material to be used for filling in and raising above high tide the adjacent tide and shore lands belonging to the state of Washington. For doing this he was to be entitled to compensation equivalent to the cost of the work plus 15 per centum and interest, for which he was to have a lien upon the tide and shore lands so filled in. The state agreed to hold these lands subject to the operation of the contract pending its execution, and

Page 235

subject to the ultimate lien of the contractor thereon, and that it would perform by its authorized agents all things required by the act of 1893 to be performed by the state. The contract provided for and specified the character of the bulkheads and retaining walls to be used, reserving, however, to the Commissioner of Public Lands the right to modify these plans and specifications as to 'shape, form, and character of material' as might appear necessary. The contract required complainant at his own cost to excavate also a waterway to extend from the north end of the Smith's Cove waterway across the peninsula separating the cove from Salmon Bay, such excavation to be made under the direction and in accordance with the plans of an engineer to be designated by the Governor of the state or the Secretary of War of the United States, and when excavated to be owned, possessed, and controlled by the United States or by the state, free of cost to them, if the right of way and the privilege of excavating across the peninsula should be accorded to the contractor free of cost or if fair compensation should be made to him therefor. Work was to be commenced within 60 days and completed within 2 years from the date of approval.

On May 4, 1896, complainant entered upon performance of the contract and commenced driving piles for the construction of a bulkhead. Almost immediately he was notified by the Commissioner of Public Lands that the latter elected to exercise the right, as provided by the contract, to change the form of bulkhead. This had the effect of requiring a suspension of work until modified plans and specifications for the bulkheads should be prepared. Complainant did suspend the work, and it never was resumed thereafter. There were negotiations and correspondence between him and the Commissioner of Public Lands looking to the preparation of the modified plans and specifications, but they resulted in nothing.

Page 236

Each party seems to have insisted that it was the duty of the other to furnish them.

Complainant contends that he was at all times ready and prepared to carry...

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100 practice notes
  • Bettio v. Village of Northfield, No. 91-CV-1383.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Ohio
    • October 18, 1991
    ...foreclose an adequate damages or special performance remedy, a breach does not run afoul of the Contracts Clause. Hays v. Port of Seattle, 251 U.S. 233, 237-38, 40 S.Ct. 125, 126-27, 64 L.Ed. 243 (1920); Casey v. Depetrillo, 697 F.2d 22, 23 (1st Cir. 1983) (per curiam); E & E Hauling, Inc. ......
  • City of Dallas v. Vsc Llc, No. 08–0265.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Texas
    • September 30, 2011
    ...remedial statutory scheme, it could not ignore that scheme in favor of initiating a constitutional takings suit. Hays v. Port of Seattle, 251 U.S. 233, 40 S.Ct. 125, 64 L.Ed. 243 (1920), is a good illustration of this rule. There, the Supreme Court refused to permit a claimant to bring a ta......
  • Stewart v. Hunt, No. 84-140-CIV-5.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Eastern District of North Carolina
    • November 28, 1984
    ...302, 306-07, 311 and n. 12 (8th Cir.1978), cert. denied, 439 U.S. 1070, 99 S.Ct. 839, 59 L.Ed.2d 35 (1979); cf. Hays v. Port of Seattle, 251 U.S. 233, 237-38, 40 S.Ct. 125, 126, 64 L.Ed. 243 (1920) (Contract Clause); E & E Hauling, Inc. v. Forest Preserve District, 613 F.2d 675, 678-79 (7th......
  • Nika Corp. v. City of Kansas City, Mo., No. 80-0609-CV-W-0.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Western District of Missouri
    • February 24, 1984
    ...559 (1903); Crozier v. Fried, Aktiengesellschaft, 224 U.S. 290, 306, 32 S.Ct. 488, 492, 56 L.Ed. 771 (1911); Hays v. Port of Seattle, 251 U.S. 233, 238, 40 S.Ct. 125, 127, 64 L.Ed. 243 (1919); Joslin Mfg. Co. v. Providence, 262 U.S. 668, 677-78, 43 S.Ct. 684, 67 L.Ed. 1167 (1922); Hurley v.......
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99 cases
  • Brewer v. Hoxie School District No. 46, No. 15510.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • October 25, 1956
    ...the Constitution is well established. See Philadelphia Co. v. Stimson, 223 U.S. 605, 32 S.Ct. 340, 56 L.Ed. 570; Hays v. Port of Seattle, 251 U.S. 233, 40 S.Ct. 125, 64 L.Ed. 243; Pennoyer v. McConnaughy, 140 U.S. 1, 11 S.Ct. 699, 35 L.Ed. 363; City Railway Co. v. Citizens' St. Railroad Co.......
  • Bettio v. Village of Northfield, No. 91-CV-1383.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Ohio
    • October 18, 1991
    ...foreclose an adequate damages or special performance remedy, a breach does not run afoul of the Contracts Clause. Hays v. Port of Seattle, 251 U.S. 233, 237-38, 40 S.Ct. 125, 126-27, 64 L.Ed. 243 (1920); Casey v. Depetrillo, 697 F.2d 22, 23 (1st Cir. 1983) (per curiam); E & E Hauling, Inc. ......
  • City of Dallas v. Vsc Llc, No. 08–0265.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Texas
    • September 30, 2011
    ...remedial statutory scheme, it could not ignore that scheme in favor of initiating a constitutional takings suit. Hays v. Port of Seattle, 251 U.S. 233, 40 S.Ct. 125, 64 L.Ed. 243 (1920), is a good illustration of this rule. There, the Supreme Court refused to permit a claimant to bring a ta......
  • United States v. Meyer, No. 7148
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • July 23, 1940
    ...306, 32 S.Ct. 488, 56 L.Ed. 771; Joslin v. City of Providence, 262 U.S. 668, 678, 43 S.Ct. 684, 67 L.Ed. 1167; Hays v. Port of Seattle, 251 U.S. 233, 238, 40 S.Ct. 125, 64 L.Ed. 243; Bragg v. Weaver, 251 U.S. 57, 62, 40 S.Ct. 62, 64 L.Ed. 135; Williams v. Parker, 188 U.S. 491, 502, 503, 23 ......
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