Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Southwest Engineering Co. v. United States case brief

Southwest Engineering Co. v. United States case brief summary
341 F.2d 998 (1965)

Plaintiff appealed an order of summary judgment from the lower court (Missouri) dismissing its complaint against defendant for recovery of money withheld as liquidated damages for delay in performance of construction contracts.

Plaintiff and defendant entered into four construction contracts that included a provision for liquidated damages on a per diem basis for each day's delay beyond the agreed completion date. All four contracts were completed late, and defendant withheld from payment the agreed upon liquidated damages. Plaintiff sued to recover the money claiming that defendant contributed to the delay and that defendant was not entitled to the liquidated damages because it suffered no actual damages.


  • The court held that no damages were withheld for the excusable delay caused by defendant because defendant had already given plaintiff credit for those extensions of time. 
  • Further, in situations where damages could reasonably be anticipated at the time of contracting, proof of actual damages was not required to sustain an action for liquidated damages unless the contracts so provided.

The court affirmed the order of summary judgment.

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