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Northern Delaware Indus. Development Corp. v. E. W. Bliss Co.

    Brief Fact Summary.

    .  Plaintiffs and Defendant were parties to a contract under which Defendant was to furnish all labor, services, materials and equipment necessary to expand a steel fabricating plant.  Work was progressing slower than anticipated, and Plaintiffs sought a court order compelling the Defendant to requisition 300 more workmen for a night shift. 

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    A court of equity should not order specific performance of any building contract in a situation in which it would be impractical to carry out such an order, unless there are special circumstances or the public interest is directly involved. 

    Facts.

    The basis for the Plaintiffs’ application for equitable relief was under paragraph  “T” of the work proposal, which provided for “two turn-week work.”  Both parties stipulated that this phrase was used in the steel industry to designate day and night shifts over a full seven day work week.  Since the Defendant was only operating one shift at the site, Plaintiffs sought to compel it to hire 300 more workers for the night shift to move the project along.

    Issue.

    Should the court grant Plaintiffs’ application for specific performance?

    Held.

    No.

    The Court should not become committed to supervising the carrying out of a massive complex and unfinished construction contract, a result which would follow as a consequence of ordering the Defendant to hire more workers. 
    To grant specific performance would be inappropriate in view of the imprecision of the contract provision relied upon and difficulty the Court would have enforcing an order to keep a specific number of men on the job.

    Dissent.

    None.

    Concurrence.

    None.

    Discussion.

    The court did not have the ability, as a practical matter, to make sure that Defendant kept a specific number of workers on the job, and wisely declined to grant specific performance.  The Plaintiffs would have an adequate remedy after the project was complete, if there were damages. 


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