Ted Spangenberg Co. v. Peoples Natural Gas, Division of Northern Natural Gas Co.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States State District Court of Southern District of Iowa
Citation305 F. Supp. 1129
Docket NumberCiv. No. 3-747-W.
Decision Date26 November 1969

305 F. Supp. 1129

TED SPANGENBERG CO., Incorporated, Plaintiff,

Civ. No. 3-747-W.

United States District Court S. D. Iowa, W. D.

November 26, 1969.

305 F. Supp. 1130

Raymond E. Pogge, Council Bluffs, Iowa, Jack N. Hays of Gable, Gotwals, Hays, Rubin & Fox, Tulsa, Okl., for plaintiff.

Philip J. Willson, and Frank W. Pechacek, Jr. of Smith, Peterson, Beckman & Willson, Council Bluffs, Iowa, for defendant.


HANSON, District Judge.

This is an action to recover the sum of $12,966.94 representing the alleged balance due for the installation of gas-fueled heating and air-conditioning equipment. The plaintiff, Ted Spangenberg Company, Incorporated, is an Oklahoma corporation specializing in the installation of heating and cooling equipment. Defendant, Peoples Natural Gas, is an Iowa corporation primarily engaged in supplying natural gas. The Court's jurisdiction is predicated upon diversity of citizenship and the requisite jurisdictional amount. Section 1332, 28 U.S.C. This non-jury cause was tried to the Court on July 17, 1969.

Certain facts are without dispute. The evidence shows that in late 1965 plaintiff entered into an oral agreement with Cecil R. Sullivan to install gas heating and electric cooling equipment in an apartment building Sullivan was constructing in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Ted Spangenberg, president and major shareholder of plaintiff corporation, has been in the business of installing such equipment for more than twenty years. Mr. Spangenberg testified that he had successfully completed other projects in the past for Sullivan and that they were close friends.

Work commenced in February 1966 at which time plaintiff began to rough-in the necessary piping and sheet metal. Sullivan paid plaintiff $9,125 on March 9, 1966 and $7,500 on June 10, 1966 for the preliminary work.

In April 1966 the question of installing a gas rather than an electrical air-conditioning system arose. The evidence clearly demonstrates that defendant, Peoples Natural Gas (hereinafter referred to as Peoples), actively sought to persuade Sullivan to substitute a gas airconditioner for the electrical system. It is also without dispute that plaintiff was fully aware of People's negotiations with Sullivan during this time. Also, even though plaintiff had completed substantial preliminary work, the cooling facility could be either gas or electric. Peoples' persuasions bore fruit and Sullivan signed and accepted a letter dated June 8, 1966 which is set forth here:

"Mr. Cecil R. Sullivan, 4930 So. Columbia, Tulsa, Oklahoma
"Dear Sir:
"We have had discussions with you concerning the apartment building at 38 Dillman Drive in Council Bluffs, Iowa which you are constructing and our interest in the installation of gas-fired facilities for heating and airconditioning in such apartment building.
"This letter will represent the present intention of Northern Natural Gas Company, operating as Peoples Natural Gas Division, subject to the conditions hereinafter specified, to assist you in the installation of gas-fired facilities for heating and air-conditioning at the aforesaid apartment building by the initial payment by Peoples of the cost of such facilities and installation, not to exceed $34,700.00. Further it is understood that you would repay such amount, plus interest, to Peoples in installments over five years following completion of the apartment building.
"It is specifically understood that the present intentions of the parties as hereinabove expressed are subject to Peoples examining and approving the engineering drawings and specifications for the building and the facilities for heating and air conditioning therein, and, further, are subject to
305 F. Supp. 1131
the parties agreeing upon and executing appropriate forms of agreement embodying specific terms and provisions which are not expressed herein, such instruments to include promissory note, instruments securing repayment of amounts advanced as Peoples may deem necessary, and such other instruments as either party may deem necessary.
"If you agree that the terms of this letter accurately reflect our present intentions in these regards, would you please sign the original hereof in the space provided below and return to us, retaining the enclosed signed copy for your files.
"PEOPLES NATURAL GAS DIVISION "/s/ E. E. (Gene) Zimmerman "ACCEPTED /s/ Cecil R. Sullivan Cecil R. Sullivan"

On October 17, 1966 after the gas facilities had been installed and tested, Peoples and Sullivan then entered into formal agreements which further crystalized these parties' intents as found in the June 8 letter. At this time four instruments were executed by Peoples and Sullivan: an agreement, a promissory note, a security agreement and a gas sales contract.

The agreement (Defendant's Exhibit A) is of particular relevance and is in part as follows:

"THIS AGREEMENT is made and entered into as of the 17th day of October, 1966, by and between CECIL R. SULLIVAN and BETTY SULLIVAN, husband and wife, of 4930 Columbia, Tulsa, Oklahoma, hereinafter called "Customer," and NORTHERN NATURAL GAS COMPANY, operating as PEOPLES NATURAL GAS DIVISION, with offices as 2223 Dodge Street, Omaha, Nebraska, hereinafter called "Company."
"WHEREAS, Customer and Company entered into a preliminary letter agreement on June 8, 1966, which agreement provided that Company intended to assist in the financing of certain gas-fired facilities to be installed by Customer in the Colonial Plaza Apartments at 38 Dillman Drive in Council Bluffs, Iowa, subject to certain conditions, including approval of equipment and installation by Company, execution of a formal contract and supporting instruments properly secured, providing for repayment of said financing with interest; and
"WHEREAS, said apartment building has been substantially completed with gas-fired heating and cooling equipment approved by Company as to type and installation and the parties wish to evidence the completion of their agreement by execution of the aforementioned instruments.
"NOW, THEREFORE, in consideration of the premises and the mutual convenants and undertakings of the parties as hereunder set forth, it is agreed as follows:
"1. Company shall issue its check in the amount of $28,517 to Customer upon receipt of the following items from Customer:
* * * * * *
d. Disclaimers of interest in said equipment (in form satisfactory to Company) from all persons, corporations, lending institutions, etc. having a present interest in the land or improvements comprising the said Colonial Plaza Apartments at 38 Dillman Drive, Council Bluffs, Iowa, together with a list naming all such persons, corporations and lending institutions, and an affidavit (in such form satisfactory to Company) stating that such list is complete.
* * * * * *
305 F. Supp. 1132


Operating as Peoples Natural Gas Division

By /s/ ____________________________ Vice President and General Manager /s/ ______________________________ Cecil R. Sullivan /s/ ______________________________ Betty Sullivan"

Following the execution of this agreement, First Federal Savings and Loan Association...

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3 cases
  • Ted Spangenberg Co. v. Peoples Nat. Gas, Div. of No. NG Co., 20198.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • March 23, 1971
    ...in a non jury diversity case, erred in its findings of fact and conclusions of law which resulted in an order of judgment for defendant, 305 F.Supp. 1129. After a careful review of the record and the briefs of counsel, we find no error and we affirm. A somewhat detailed recital of the facts......
  • United States v. Perez, Civ. No. 78-2065.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Puerto Rico
    • November 5, 1981
    ...guaranty is defined as a promise to answer for the debt, default or miscarriage of another. Ted Spangenberg Co. v. Peoples Natural Gas, 305 F.Supp. 1129 (S.D. Iowa 1969). With the above in mind, it can be said that the guarantors' contention confronts serious difficulties and cannot First, ......
  • National Bank of Waterloo v. Moeller, 87-1716
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • January 25, 1989
    ...then other evidence can be considered in ascertaining the true intent of the parties. Ted Spangenberg Co. v. Peoples Natural Gas, 305 F.Supp. 1129, 1133 (S.D.Iowa The bank persuaded the trial court that the March 21 letter--when read in the light of the earlier conversation between bank and......

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