U.S. For Use of Belcon, Inc. v. Sherman Const. Co., Nos. 85-1767

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore HALL and WILKINSON, Circuit Judges, and BUTZNER; K.K. HALL
Citation800 F.2d 1321
Decision Date19 September 1986
Docket Number85-1768,Nos. 85-1767
PartiesU.S. For the Use of BELCON, INCORPORATED, Appellant, v. SHERMAN CONSTRUCTION COMPANY and Seaboard Surety Co., Appellees, v. Lester BELCHER, Jr., and Lester Belcher, III, Third-Party Defendants. U.S. For the Use of BELCON, INCORPORATED, Appellee, v. SHERMAN CONSTRUCTION COMPANY and Seaboard Surety Co., Appellants, v. Lester BELCHER, Jr., and Lester Belcher, III, Appellees.

Page 1321

800 F.2d 1321
U.S. For the Use of BELCON, INCORPORATED, Appellant,
v.
SHERMAN CONSTRUCTION COMPANY and Seaboard Surety Co., Appellees,
v.
Lester BELCHER, Jr., and Lester Belcher, III, Third-Party
Defendants.
U.S. For the Use of BELCON, INCORPORATED, Appellee,
v.
SHERMAN CONSTRUCTION COMPANY and Seaboard Surety Co., Appellants,
v.
Lester BELCHER, Jr., and Lester Belcher, III, Appellees.
Nos. 85-1767, 85-1768.
United States Court of Appeals,
Fourth Circuit.
Argued July 14, 1986.
Decided Sept. 19, 1986.

William N. Rogers (Shaffer & Rogers, Rockville, Md., William N. Zifchak, Sasscer, Clagett, Channing & Bucher, Upper Marlboro, Md., on brief), for appellant/cross appellees.

Gerald I. Katz (Mark J. Stone, Katz, Flinn & Beagan, Vilnna, Va., on brief), for appellees/cross appellants.

Page 1322

Before HALL and WILKINSON, Circuit Judges, and BUTZNER, Senior circuit judge.

K.K. HALL, Circuit Judge.

Belcon, Incorporated ("Belcon") is a Maryland corporation acting as a subcontractor in a business relationship governed by the Miller Act, 40 U.S.C. Sec. 270a-270d. Belcon appeals from an order of the district court entering judgment following a bench trial in a breach of contract action brought against the prime contractor Sherman Construction Company ("Sherman") and its surety, Seaboard Surety Company ("Seaboard"). The court held in Belcon's favor with regard to a portion of its claims against Sherman while denying recovery on its remaining allegations. Sherman cross-appeals the denial of its counterclaim brought against Belcon. Because we conclude that the findings of fact accompanying the district court's decision fail to satisfy the demands of Fed.R.Civ.P. 52(a), we remand for additional proceedings.

I.

On August 5, 1982, Sherman entered into a contract with the United States Veterans Administration to develop a project known as Phase II, which consisted of 26,400 gravesites on 52 acres of the Quantico Marine Base at Quantico, Virginia. On August 10, 1984, Sherman, in conjunction with Seaboard, executed and delivered to the Veterans Administration a payment bond in the amount of $524,000.00 for the protection of all persons supplying labor and materials in connection with the prime contract as required by the Miller Act.

On August 20, 1982, Sherman entered into a subcontract with Belcon. 1 Under the contract, Belcon agreed to furnish and install turf grass seed on the Phase II project in accordance with the specifications provided by the Veterans Administration in the prime contract. The contract, as subsequently amended, called for Belcon to receive $75,375.00 for its services.

In mid-September, 1982, Belcon arrived "on site" to commence work. At that time direct supervision of the field work was the responsibility of Lester Belcher, III, the son of Lester Belcher, Jr., the president of Belcon. Between September, 1982, and October, 1983, Belcon seeded the Phase II acreage on three separate occasions. The first seeding which occurred between September and December of 1982, and for which Belcon was paid, resulted in seed that either failed to germinate or failed to produce an acceptable stand of grass. The second seeding in May and June of 1983 achieved germination but still did not produce a sufficient growth of grass. The third seeding in October, 1983, performed after the execution of a contract change order, also failed to produce grass acceptable to the Veterans Administration.

Following the third seeding, Belcon, asserting that it had performed its full obligations under the contract, withdrew from the Phase II project. It subsequently tendered a demand for payment for the work done in connection with the second and third seedings. Belcon also requested payment for activities that it described as "extras" such as rock removal and the filling of washed out areas. Sherman denied that any additional sums were owed and maintained that Belcon had failed to satisfy the terms of the contract. Belcon then initiated a breach of contract action against Sherman in the district court seeking compensation from the payment bond issued by Seaboard.

The case came to trial on May 21, 1985. By agreement of the parties the jury was dismissed and the matter was tried to the court. In their respective presentations, the parties disputed both the nature of Belcons' obligations under the contract and the causes of any deficiencies in Belcon's performance.

Page 1323

Specifically, Belcon argued that its duty under the contract was simply to...

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33 practice notes
  • Matarese v. Archstone Pentagon City (f/K/A Parc Vista), Case No. 1:09–CV–0857.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Virginia)
    • May 31, 2011
    ...52(a), a trial court must do more than announce statements of ultimate fact. United States ex rel. Belcon, Inc. v. Sherman Const. Co., 800 F.2d 1321, 1324 (4th Cir.1986) (citation omitted). The court must support its rulings by spelling out the subordinate facts on which it relies. Id. The ......
  • Anderson v. Cordell (In re Infinity Bus. Grp., Inc.), Civil Action No. 3:19-cv-03096-JMC
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • March 31, 2021
    ...bench trial exists independently of any request by a party to the litigation." United States ex rel. Belcon, Inc. v. Sherman Const. Co. , 800 F.2d 1321, 1324 n.2 (4th Cir. 1986). Accordingly, a court has both the right and the duty to weigh the evidence and draw reasonable inferences and de......
  • Taylor v. Republic Servs., Inc., Case No. 1: 12–cv–00523–GBL–IDD.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of Virginia
    • September 16, 2013
    ...52(a), a trial court must do more than announce statements of ultimate fact. United States ex rel. Belcon, Inc. v. Sherman Constr. Co., 800 F.2d 1321, 1324 (4th Cir.1986) (citation omitted). The court must support its rulings by spelling out the subordinate facts on which it relies. Id. The......
  • Damon v. Sun Co., Inc., Nos. 95-1820
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)
    • December 7, 1995
    ...support its rulings by spelling out the subordinate facts on which it relies." U.S. for the Use of Belcon, Inc. v. Sherman Constr. Co., 800 F.2d 1321, 1324 (4th Cir.1986) (vacating decision and remanding where district court made no finding on extent of plaintiff's responsibilities where th......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
33 cases
  • Matarese v. Archstone Pentagon City (f/K/A Parc Vista), Case No. 1:09–CV–0857.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Virginia)
    • May 31, 2011
    ...52(a), a trial court must do more than announce statements of ultimate fact. United States ex rel. Belcon, Inc. v. Sherman Const. Co., 800 F.2d 1321, 1324 (4th Cir.1986) (citation omitted). The court must support its rulings by spelling out the subordinate facts on which it relies. Id. The ......
  • Anderson v. Cordell (In re Infinity Bus. Grp., Inc.), Civil Action No. 3:19-cv-03096-JMC
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • March 31, 2021
    ...bench trial exists independently of any request by a party to the litigation." United States ex rel. Belcon, Inc. v. Sherman Const. Co. , 800 F.2d 1321, 1324 n.2 (4th Cir. 1986). Accordingly, a court has both the right and the duty to weigh the evidence and draw reasonable inferences and de......
  • Taylor v. Republic Servs., Inc., Case No. 1: 12–cv–00523–GBL–IDD.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of Virginia
    • September 16, 2013
    ...52(a), a trial court must do more than announce statements of ultimate fact. United States ex rel. Belcon, Inc. v. Sherman Constr. Co., 800 F.2d 1321, 1324 (4th Cir.1986) (citation omitted). The court must support its rulings by spelling out the subordinate facts on which it relies. Id. The......
  • Damon v. Sun Co., Inc., Nos. 95-1820
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)
    • December 7, 1995
    ...support its rulings by spelling out the subordinate facts on which it relies." U.S. for the Use of Belcon, Inc. v. Sherman Constr. Co., 800 F.2d 1321, 1324 (4th Cir.1986) (vacating decision and remanding where district court made no finding on extent of plaintiff's responsibilities where th......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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