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WILLIAMS ENTERPRISES v. STRAIT MFG. & WELDING

January 4, 1990

WILLIAMS ENTERPRISES, INC., Plaintiff and Cross-Defendant,
v.
STRAIT MANUFACTURING & WELDING, INC., et al., Defendants. STRAIT MANUFACTURING & WELDING, INC., Third Party Plaintiff and Cross-Defendant, v. THE SHERMAN R. SMOOT CO., Third Party Defendant and Cross-Plaintiff



The opinion of the court was delivered by: PARKER

 INTRODUCTION

 The Court determines that cross-plaintiff The Sherman R. Smoot Co. ("Smoot"), has proved by a preponderance of credible evidence that it should prevail and be awarded damages against Williams Enterprises, Inc. ("Williams") and Strait Manufacturing & Welding, Inc. ("Strait").

 Pursuant to Rule 52, Fed.R.Civ.P., the Court enters Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law as follow.

 FINDINGS OF FACT

 A.

 (1) This negligence and breach of contract action arises from the construction of a new gymnasium and certain modernizations at the Coolidge High School ("Project") in Washington, D.C. ("District"). The prime contract for the Project was between the District and Smoot, an Ohio corporation.

 Smoot entered into a subcontract with Strait on December 15, 1983. Strait undertook to fabricate and erect the steel frame for the Project. That subcontract provided that Strait would take reasonable safety precautions. Thereafter Strait engaged Williams to undertake the steel erection on the Project.

 (2) On September 25, 1984, a steel tower assembled in the area of the Project, which was almost completed by Williams, collapsed causing 25 tons of steel to fall nearly 50 feet to the ground below. The work on the steel erection was totally interrupted. This accident was highly visible, dramatic; it was featured prominently in reports by the print and electronic media. The damaged steel was removed from the job and replaced. The new refabricated steel was delivered to the Project on December 17, 1984.

 (3) This legal action was originally brought in 1986 by Williams a second-tier steel erection subcontractor and a local corporation, against a first-tier subcontractor, Strait, a Pennsylvania corporation. Williams sought certain retention payments alleged to be due and owed by Strait. Williams had been employed to accomplish steel erection by Strait. Strait had responsibility for both fabrication and erection of the structural steel for the Project. In turn, Strait filed a third party complaint against Smoot, the prime contractor. Smoot denied the claim for retention payments. In addition, Smoot filed a counterclaim against both Strait and Williams alleging delay damages.

 In its counterclaim, Smoot sued the defendant Strait for breach of contract and negligence and the defendant Williams for negligence. Smoot claimed both delay damages, attorneys' fees, costs, and other expenses from Williams and Strait.

 (4) In July 1987, while the litigation was then pending, Williams and Strait entered into an indemnity agreement in which Williams agreed to hold Strait harmless for any responsibility for damages to Smoot arising from Smoot's claims in this action. Williams also assumed full ...


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