The Missouri Court of Appeals recently considered whether an electrical contractor pleaded sufficient facts to establish that a “promise” was made by a general contractor to use the electrical company on a building project for St. Louis County.

In its petition, the electrical subcontractor alleged that it submitted a bid to the general contractor for a response to a request for proposal (“RFP”) from the county.  The electrical company was listed as an intended subcontractor for the project.

After the general contractor was awarded a contract as the low bidder, it did not utilize the services of the electrical subcontractor.  The reasons were unknown to the Court of Appeals.

The electrical company sued under theories of breach of contract and promissory estoppel.  The trial court granted a motion to dismiss.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal.  It noted that the general contractor did not make a specific promise that it would use the electrical company.  Importantly, the court concluded that the RFP did not constitute a promise by the general contractor.  Rather, an RFP is not an offer to contract, but an offer to receive proposals for a contract.

In the absence of a definite promise, the electrical company’s claim failed as a matter of law, according to the Court of Appeals.