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White v. Berenda Mesa Water District

California Court of Appeal, Fifth District
87 Cal.Rptr. 338 (1970)


The Berenda Mesa Water District (District) (defendant) requested bids for a construction project that included excavation. White (plaintiff) submitted the lowest bid and with it, filed a $42,789 surety bond issued by Aetna (plaintiff). In calculating the cost of the excavation, White studied the site and the plans and specifications issued by the District. He also had his son Kelly examine soil reports made available to the bidders. Based on Kelly’s findings, which White confirmed with the consulting engineers for the project, White estimated that the excavation would include little hard rock, which was more costly to excavate. In actuality, the excavation involved about 50 percent hard rock. White failed to realize that fact because he never compared the soil report data against the plans and specifications. Upon realizing his error, and prior to the District awarding the project, White sought to withdraw his bid and reclaim the bond. The District denied his request and formally awarded the project to White. He then rescinded the bid at which point the District awarded the project to the next lowest bidder. White and Aetna filed a claim seeking declaratory relief. The District filed a claim for damages. The trial court ruled in favor of the District, and awarded it the amount of the surety bond, on the grounds that White’s mistake was one of judgment, not of fact, thereby barring relief. White and Aetna appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Coakley, J.)

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