Smith v. Cty. of Santa Barbara

203 Cal. App. 3d 1415, 251 Cal. Rptr. 1 (1988)

 

RULE:

Rule one: In the area of federal property management, a "federal project" is defined as either a public building "construction" or a lease "construction" project. 41 C.F.R. § 101-19.100(a)(2). Federal regulations indicate that leasing space in privately owned buildings is an alternative to the "construction" of a federal building. 41 C.F.R. § 101-18.100(a). "Construction" is defined as building a public building which includes planning, engineering, architectural, legal, fiscal, economic studies, designs and drawings and other similar actions necessary to construct a building. 41 C.F.R. § 101-19.003.3.

Rule two: Although a complaint need not anticipate any defense or new matter affirmatively pled in the answer, when estoppel is an element of the cause of action it must be specially pled. All essential elements of estoppel must be alleged and from such facts estoppel must be clearly deducible therefrom.

FACTS:

Appellant contractor sought damages and the refund of building fees he paid to respondent county as the result of respondent's alleged unlawful interference with his construction project after respondent denied appellant's request for a government project exemption. He intended to lease the building to the United States Forest Service. Appellant arguably pled facts sufficient to constitute a claim for promissory estoppel in his original complaint. That complaint was never served. Appellant's first amended complaint did not incorporate the allegations relating to the theory contained in his original complaint. Appellant filed an action to prohibit respondent from compelling him, as a private person doing business with the federal government, to submit to respondent's land development permit process. The trial court entered judgment in favor of respondent. The appellate court affirmed the judgment.

ISSUE:

Issue one: Was appellant contractor’s construction project a government project pursuant to federal law?

Issue two: Was the issue of whether the trial court erred in ruling against appellant's cause of action for promissory estoppel waived?

ANSWER:

Answer one: No. Answer two: Yes.

CONCLUSION:

Conclusion one: Respondent county validly concluded that appellant contractor had not signed a lease with the Forest Service, nor had he contracted with the Forest Service to construct a building, and therefore the construction was not a "government project" pursuant to federal law. Because no federal function was being performed during the construction, the activity was none other than a private project subject to local regulation.

Conclusion two: The issue of whether the trial court erred in ruling against appellant's cause of action for promissory estoppel was waived on appeal because appellant's first amended complaint did not incorporate the allegations relating to the theory contained in his original complaint, and the original complaint was never served.

Click here to view the full text case and earn your Daily Research Points.