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Gunnip v. Lautenklos

Court of Chancery of Delaware, New Castle County

February 9, 1953

GUNNIP et al.
v.
LAUTENKLOS et al.

Complaint for declaratory judgment and mandatory injunction to compel school building commission to award contract for school construction to plaintiff whose formal bid was not the lowest but who had submitted with his bid a letter making certain substitutes in specifications and decreasing his bid so that it became the lowest. The Court of Chancery, New Castle County, Bramhall, Vice Chancellor, held, inter alia, that the commission did not abuse its discretion in refusing to consider such letter.

Order for defendants.

Page 713

[33 Del.Ch. 417] Complaint for declaratory judgment and mandatory injunction by Francis A. Gunnip, Fred C. Crosland, and John E. Healy and Sons, Inc., a Delaware corporation, against Henry C. Lautenklos, et al., constituting and being the Board of School Trustees for the Henrik J. Krebs School, Newport School District No. 21, New Castle County, and J. Ohrum Small and George Tyler Coulson, members of the State Board of Education, who with the members of the Board of School Trustees for the Henrik J. Krebs School, Newport School District No. 21, are and constitute the ‘ School Building Commission’ of the Henrik J. Krebs School, Newport School District No. 21, (hereinafter called ‘ Commission’ ), asking this court to declare illegal an award by the Commission of a contract to defendant Ernest DiSabatino & Sons, Inc. (hereinafter called ‘ DiSabatino’ ), for alterations and additions to the Henrik J. Krebs School, at Newport, Delaware, and for a mandatory injunction directing the Commission to award the contract to the plaintiff John E. Healy and Sons, Inc. (hereinafter called ‘ Healy’ ).

The case was before the court for final hearing.

Stewart Lynch and Alfred R. Fraczkowski, Wilmington, for plaintiffs.

Joseph A. L. Errigo and John M. Bader, Wilmington, for School Building Commission.

S. Samuel Arsht and John T. Gallagher (of Morris, Steel, Nichols & Arsht), Wilmington, for Ernest DiSabatino & Sons, Inc.

BRAMHALL, Vice Chancellor.

The dispute in this case arises out of the submission by Healy, one of our bidders responding to the proposal of the Commission, of a letter in which four items were suggested as substitutes for items listed in the formal bid made by Healy. Three of the items suggested were not covered by the specifications. The fourth item, in which Healy suggested the [33 Del.Ch. 418] use of another type of window as a substitute for the type listed in his formal bid, was within the specifications of the architect. The windows suggested by Healy as a substitute were the same windows listed by DiSabatino in his formal bid. The Commission refused to accept the letter of Healy as a part of its formal bid and awarded the contract to DiSabatino. Had the Commission accepted the letter of Healy as a part of its bid, Healy's bid would have been the lowest, bid, since the windows suggested in Healy's letter were approved in the specifications prepared by the architect for the Commission.

The following questions are presented:

(1) Were the final plans and specifications and estimates of costs duly and legally approved by the administrative bodies charged with that duty?

(2) Was the Commission justified in refusing to consider the Healy letter as a part of Healy's formal bid?

(3) Should the letter of Healy have been accepted by the Commission as a part of its bid by reason of any custom or usage existing in the trade?

1. Were the final plans and specifications and estimates of costs duly and legally

Page 714

approved by the administrative bodies charged ...


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