Friday, December 27, 2013

McCloskey & Co. v. Minweld Steel Co. case brief

McCloskey & Co. v. Minweld Steel Co. case brief summary
220 F.2d 101 (1955)

Plaintiff general contractor appealed judgment as a matter of law in favor of defendant subcontractor entered by the United States District Court (Pennsylvania), in action alleging defendant subcontractor had anticipatorily breached three construction contracts.

Defendant subcontractor agreed to furnish and erect all of the steel required for two buildings. Defendant subcontractor did not state a performance date. However, plaintiff general contractor later sought assurances that the steel could be delivered within 30 days. Defendant subcontractor replied that, due to the steel crisis during the Korean War, it was having difficulty obtaining steel from manufacturers and requested plaintiff's help in doing so. Plaintiff general contractor treated defendant subcontractor's response as a repudiation, and hired new subcontractors to replace defendant subcontractor. Plaintiff general contractor sued defendant subcontractor, but judgment as a matter of law in defendant subcontractor's favor was affirmed.


  • The court held that defendant subcontractor's letter indicating the difficulty in obtaining steel, and its failure to take preparatory action before performance was due, was not an anticipatory breach. 
  • Moreover, defendant subcontractor had not abandoned hope of acquiring the steel, and plaintiff general contractor was in fact able to acquire the steel directly from manufacturers shortly after defendant subcontractor's letter.

Judgment affirmed, as defendant subcontractor did not anticipatorily breach its contract with plaintiff general contractor by indicating it was having difficulty obtaining steel for construction project, and asking for plaintiff general contractor's help in acquiring the steel.

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