SUTTON V. UNITED STATES, 256 U. S. 575 (1921)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Sutton v. United States, 256 U.S. 575 (1921)

Sutton v. United States

No. 307

Argued April 29, 1921

Decided June 1, 1921

256 U.S. 575


1. Acts appropriating specific amounts for the improvement of a navigable channel and for "completing" the improvement, with provision for using the fund in the prosecution of the work if insufficient

Page 256 U. S. 576

to complete it (River and Harbor Act, c. 253, § 8, 37 Stat. 233), do not authorize the Secretary of War to contract to expend more than the amounts appropriated, and his contract to do so would not bind the government. (Rev.Stats., § 3733; Act of June 30, 1906, c. 3914, § 9, 34 Stat. 764.) P. 256 U. S. 578.

2. An appropriation for the preservation and maintenance of existing river and harbor works and for the prosecution of work previously authorized is not applicable to pay for work theretofore done under and in excess of a prior appropriation, and, when so misapplied, the amount paid may be deducted from a balance owing the contractor under another contract. P. 256 U. S. 579.

3. A contract for dredging and excavating at unit rates specified the materials to be removed at estimated amounts which, if correctly estimated, would have been covered by the appropriation, and provided that government inspectors should keep a record of the work done, which was to be within the limits of the funds available. Relying upon erroneous estimates of an inspector, the contractor did more work than the appropriation would pay for before the error was discovered and the operations stayed. Held that, there being no authority to contract in excess of the appropriation, no contract of the government to pay the fair value of the excess work could be implied, either because the contractor was thus misled into doing it or from the subsequent use of the excavation by the government. P. 256 U. S. 580.

4. If, through mistake of the government's representatives, more work is done, and work is continued for a longer period than was contracted for or authorized, the cost of government superintendence incident to the mistake should not be taken from the appropriation at the expense of the contractor. P. 256 U. S. 581.

55 Ct.Clms.193 affirmed with modification.

The case is stated in the opinion.

Page 256 U. S. 577

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