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Fentron Architectural Metals Corp. v. Romagnino

Decided: October 16, 1961.

FENTRON ARCHITECTURAL METALS CORPORATION, A CORPORATION OF NEW YORK, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
SAMUEL ROMAGNINO, ANTHONY ROMAGNINO AND DOMINICK ROMAGNINO, CO-PARTNERS TRADING UNDER THE FIRM NAME OF ROMAGNINO CONSTRUCTION COMPANY, DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS



Price, Sullivan and Leonard. The opinion of the court was delivered by Sullivan, J.A.D.

Sullivan

Plaintiff sued defendants for breach of contract and, after a jury trial, recovered a judgment for $10,000 and costs. Defendants appeal.

Defendants Samuel Romagnino, Anthony Romagnino and Dominick Romagnino are co-partners trading under the name of Romagnino Construction Company. They are general contractors with a place of business in Cliffside Park, N.J. Plaintiff, a New York corporation doing business in New York, New Jersey and other East Coast states, manufactures aluminum windows, aluminum doors and aluminum ornamental work.

This litigation is set against the following background. The Board of Education of the City of Englewood had called for competitive bids on its proposed junior high school and auditorium, the bids being due on September 29, 1959, at 8 P.M. Defendants were interested in securing the contract to build the school and had prepared a bid for submission. Plaintiff learned of the proposed school job and was interested in supplying the aluminum windows and aluminum doors called for by the plans and specifications. These specifications provided that the aluminum windows and aluminum doors to be used were to be equal and similar in quality to those manufactured by certain named concerns.

Plaintiff's claim, as spelled out by the testimony of its regional sales manager, Matt Sabatino, was that plaintiff, through Browns Letters , a trade publication, had learned that defendants and other contractors were planning to bid on the Englewood school job. On the afternoon of September 29 Sabatino telephoned the several contractors and submitted prices for supplying aluminum windows and doors. Sabatino explained that the reason for calling in just before

bidding time is to prevent the general contractors from playing one subcontractor's price against another.

At about 5:30 in the afternoon of the same day Sabatino telephoned defendants' office, talked with Anthony Romagnino, and quoted a price of $135,645 which Anthony Romagnino said was better than others he had received at the time. Sabatino then offered to set a better price if defendants would guarantee a contract for the work should defendants be the successful general contractor. Anthony Romagnino had his brother Samuel Romagnino speak to Sabatino on the telephone and Sabatino offered to set a preferential price of $123,000 for the aluminum windows and doors if defendant firm would guarantee plaintiff a contract at that price if defendant firm was the low bidder and eventually received the general contract. According to Sabatino, Samuel Romagnino agreed to those terms and said that he would immediately take advantage of this price and change his figures. Neither plaintiff nor Sabatino had had any previous dealings with defendants.

The next day, having ascertained that defendants were the low bidder, Sabatino wrote the following letter to defendants.

"Fentron Architectural Metals Corporation

62-35 30th Avenue, Woodside 77, New York

September 30, 1959

Romagnino Construction Co.

289 George Road

Cliffside Park 11, N.J.

Att: Mr. Sam Romagnino

Re: Englewood Jr. H.S.

Englewood, N.J.

Dear Mr. Romagnino:

Congratulations on your being the low bidder on the above mentioned project.

We wish to assure you of our utmost cooperation as your subcontractor for the work as contained in sections 14 and 6 (with the exception of the ticket booth), for the agreed sum of $123,000.00 subject to the terms and conditions of your contract with the owner.

At your earliest convenience we would appreciate receiving your formal contract as well as a set of plans and specifications so that we ...


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