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Haddock v. Board of Public Education in Wilmington

Court of Chancery of Delaware, New Castle County

October 29, 1951

HADDOCK
v.
BOARD OF PUBLIC EDUCATION IN WILMINGTON et al.

Action by W. Albert Haddock against Board of Public Education in Wilmington, a Delaware corporation, and another for a judgment declaring that defendant board had no authority to award contract for construction of a public school building to codefendant and to enjoin board and codefendant from entering into or executing any contract on the basis of bid submitted by codefendant. On motions for summary judgment, the Court of Chancery, Bramhall, Vice-Chancellor, held that bid for construction of a public school building which omitted names of some subcontractors and set forth names of other subcontractors in the alternative did not comply with statutory requirement relative to naming all subcontractors and that Board of Education was without authority to award contract on the basis of such bid, and that a taxpayer could maintain action to enjoin the Board and bidder from entering into or executing any contract on the basis of such bid.

Injunction granted.

Page 158

[32 Del.Ch. 246] Complaint for injunction by W. Albert Haddock against the Board of Public Education in Wilmington, a Delaware corporation, and J. A. Bader & Co., Inc., a Delaware corporation.

The case was before the court for final hearing upon the complaint, affidavits, stipulation of facts, and motions for summary judgment.

Alexander L. Nichols and William S. Megonigal, Jr., of the firm of Morris, Steel, Nichols & Arsht, Wilmington, for plaintiff.

August F. Walz, City Sol., Wilmington, for defendant Board of Public Education in Wilmington.

John M. Bader, Wilmington, for defendant J. A. Bader & Co., Inc.

BRAMHALL, Vice Chancellor.

Plaintiff is a property owner and taxpayer of the City of Wilmington and also president of the W. D. Haddock Construction Company. Defendant Board of Public Education in Wilmington is a statutory corporation created under the laws of this state and charged with the administration of the Wilmington Public School System. Defendant J. A. Bader

Page 159

& Co., Inc. is a general contractor licensed and doing business in this state.

[32 Del.Ch. 247] On June 21, 1951, the defendant Board of Public Education in Wilmington (hereinafter referred to as the ‘ Board’ ) advertised for sealed bids for the construction of a school, known as No. 13 Elementary School, to be erected at Gilpin and Grant Avenues in the City of Wilmington.

In the instruction to bidders furnished by the Board attention of proposed bidders was called to Volume 38, Chapter 171, Laws of Delaware, entitled ‘ An Act Requiring Contractors on all Public Building Projects to Name Their Sub-Contractors', in the following language: ‘ The Contractor for each separate branch of the work must fill out in complete detail where required on the proposal form the names of all sub-contractors who are to perform work and labor or furnish materials or both, and also the names of the person or persons from whom materials are to be purchased for the performance of the work of the various branches, all in accordance with the Laws of Delaware, Volume 38, Chapter 171, an Act requiring Contractors on Public Building Projects to name their sub-contractors, approved April 20, 1933.’

Following the above quotation this act was recited verbatim. Forms of proposals for bids were furnished by the Board to prospective bidders, in which the proposed bidder was expected, in each instance, to name the specific sub-contractor who would perform the particular work therein referred to.

Pursuant to said advertisement the Board received proposals from J. A. Bader & Co., Inc. (hereinafter called ‘ Bader’ ), W. D. Haddock Construction Company (hereinafter known as ‘ Haddock’ ), John E. Healey & Sons, Inc., and Ernest DiSabatino & Sons, Inc. The Bader base bid was nearly $15,000 less than the Haddock's, the next lowest bidder. Subsequent to the opening of the bids, in an endeavor to supply the names of certain sub-contractors either omitted or set forth in the alternative in the original bid, Bader filed a supplement to its bid in the form of a letter addressed to the architects acting for the Board, submitting certain information relative to sub-contractors and material men. At approximately the same time Haddock filed with [32 Del.Ch. 248] the Board written objection to the Bader ...


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