$ 11,900,000 accruing to the date of judgment resulting from Essex's breach, plus interests and costs.
ALCOA asks in its third count that it be excused from further performance of the Molten Metal Agreement. ALCOA alleges that its performance is excused by a clause which is contained in a document referred to as the December 27, 1967 Letter Agreement (the Side Letter Agreement). That clause provides that ALCOA and Essex, acting in good faith, entered into the Molten Metal Agreement with the understanding that it was a contract for the furnishing of services by ALCOA to Essex. The clause further provides that in the event a final decision of a court construed the Molten Metal Agreement as a contract for the sale of goods it could be terminated by either party. The Side Letter Agreement was a product of concern that an admittedly preferential price to Essex would threaten a violation of the Robinson-Patman Act if the various transactions could be lumped together and considered to be in substance the sale of aluminum rather than what appears as a matter of form, the sale of services.
ALCOA argues it should be permitted to terminate the Molten Metal Agreement under the terms of the Side Letter Agreement. ALCOA urges that this Court should determine whether the Molten Metal Agreement is a contract for the sale of goods.
As previously indicated, Essex has filed a counterclaim to the ALCOA complaint. The original counterclaim of Essex contends that under the terms of the Molten Metal Agreement as implemented during the years 1977, 1978 and the first six months of 1979, ALCOA has, on numerous occasions, breached the Molten Metal Agreement by improperly failing to deliver the amounts of molten aluminum required by the contract. This first counterclaim asks that Essex be awarded damages in an amount as to fully compensate it for the failure of ALCOA to deliver molten aluminum in accordance with the terms of the Molten Metal Agreement.
The amended counterclaim of Essex arises as a result of a letter dated June 4, 1979, in which ALCOA informed Essex that it was reducing by 15% the amount of its deliveries of molten aluminum requested by Essex. ALCOA claims to have this authority under the terms of the Molten Metal Agreement. Essex contends that ALCOA does not have any such authority and its amended counterclaim additionally asks for an order enforcing the Molten Metal Agreement and awarding damages accordingly.
Simply put, if possible, ALCOA seeks relief from this Court in a three count complaint, while Essex opposes ALCOA's requests and itself seeks relief via a counterclaim.
The Court finds, based upon consideration of all the evidence, that ALCOA is entitled to reformation of the Molten Metal Agreement. At the same time, ALCOA's requests for relief in counts two and three are denied as is the request for relief by Essex in its counterclaim.
ALCOA's first count seeks an equitable modification of the contract price for its services. The pleadings, arguments and briefs frame the issue in several forms. ALCOA seeks reformation or modification of the price on the basis of mutual mistake of fact, unilateral mistake of fact, unconscionability, frustration of purpose, and commercial impracticability.
The facts pertinent to count one are few and simple. In 1967 ALCOA and Essex entered into a written contract in which ALCOA promised to convert specified amounts of alumina supplied by Essex into aluminum for Essex. The service is to be performed at the ALCOA works at Warrick, Indiana. The contract is to run until the end of 1983. Essex has the option to extend it until the end of 1988. The price for each pound of aluminum converted is calculated by a complex formula which includes three variable components based on specific indices. The initial contract price was set at fifteen cents per pound, computed as follows:
A. Demand Charge $0.05/lb.
B. Production Charge
(i) Fixed component .04/lb.
(ii) Non-labor production cost component .03/lb.
(iii) Labor production cost component .03/lb.
Total initial charge $0.15/lb.
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