FC: Strickland Tower Maintenance, Inc. v AT&T Communications, Inc. Alex Barr
1: Before the case, Strickland Tower Maintenance had been a loyal business partner to AT&T for 25 years; from 1988 to 1991, AT&T's payments constituted 90% of Strickland's income.
2: In summer/fall 1990, AT&T and Strickland discussed AT&T's plan for the Florissant-Hillsboro Lightguide Project; a 49-mile long fiber-optic cable to be constructed under St. Louis, Missouri. Strickland would provide most of the work for the project; AT&T supposedly suggested Strickland to use less expensive recorders in place of inspectors, which Strickland would use in their final construction proposal to AT&T. The final contract was signed in December 1990, granting Strickland compensation of 23.5% of the vague "total project cost", to be calculated by AT&T. If Strickland kept the cost less than 2% of the "bid price", they would receive an additional 1% of the build cost.
3: After the project started in 1991, AT&T had a representative meeting with Strickland. AT&T claimed that they wanted to use inspectors, not recorders, and wanted an AT&T representative to manage the project from this point forward, conflicting with the contract. Supposedly, AT&T claimed that Strickland would be offered future work to compensate for the losses; Strickland saw this as a threat that they wouldn't get any more work if they quit, so they agreed to the changes.
4: In August 1992, after the project was completed, AT&T met with Strickland once again, claiming the project cost as $6,514,891 and compensating them accordingly. Later, however, Strickland discovered an "FD-10" accounting record in AT&T's files, listing the project cost as $7,229,874. AT&T claimed that the higher cost in their records included various internal fees that they didn't plan to include with the compensation. | Strickland brought a lawsuit against AT&T for various contract, tort, and fraud claims. Three issues managed to make it to trial: - Fraud by misrepresenting the total cost - Breach of contract by paying 23.5% of the fraudulent cost, not the actual cost -Using economic duress to force the use of inspectors and give AT&T control of the project
5: The jury denied the fraud charges, but awarded $472,601 as restitution damages on the economic duress claim. On the breach of contract, Strickland was awarded $172,973. Also, $118,690 was given for attorney's fees on the contract breach claim.