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United States v. Briggs Manufacturing Co.

    Brief Fact Summary. A dispute arose over certain terms of a contract to provide housing. 

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. Custom and usage is deemed binding in certain situations.  The doctrine of equitable estoppel applies. 

    Facts. The Defendant, Briggs Manufacturing Co. (the "Defendant"), filed a third-party complaint against Toombs.  The Defendant alleged that a judgment should be entered against Toombs for any money the Defendant was held to owe the Plaintiff, the United States (the "Plaintiff").  As an inducement for Toombs to purchase the housing involved, the Defendant quoted certain estimated prices for freight, lighterage and longshoring, and terminal charges.  Although only estimates, both parties "anticipated they would be reasonably accurate and Toombs was entitled to rely on the estimate."

    Issue. Is custom and usage binding here?
    •    Does the doctrine of equitable estoppel apply here? 

    Held. Yes.  According to [Hostetter v. Park], Briggs is bound by custom and usage of the industry.  Since the charge made by the United States was in accord therewith, the trial courts judgment was to be affirmed 
    •    Yes.  The district court made sufficient factual findings to support the decision that the Defendant bear the loss under equitable estoppel. 

    Discussion. This case offers a brief discussion of custom and usage in the industry. 


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