Articles Posted in Construction Law

by
Appellant entered into a lease with a Mall to operate a restaurant. The lease required Mall to pay Appellant a finish allowance when certain provisions had been satisfied. The condition at the heart of this dispute required Appellant to provide the Mall evidence that any liens had been satisfied or waived and that “all work has been paid for” before the finish allowance became due. Appellant hired a general contractor to renovate the space. Appellant paid the general contractor in full, but the general contractor did not pay all of the subcontractors. When the Mall did not pay the finish allowance, Appellant filed this lawsuit alleging, inter alia, breach of contract. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the Mall. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the unambiguous terms of the lease required evidence that the general contractor and subcontractors had been paid in full before the Mall was obligated to pay the finish allowance. View "P & N Investments, LLC v. Frontier Mall Associates, LP" on Justia Law

by
Contractor Anderson Carpentry and Construction built a home for Shad and Trisha Bates. Anderson contracted with Century Lumber Center to purchase supplies and materials to build the Bates home. The Bates paid Anderson for materials used on the home, but those funds were applied to other accounts, and the account with Century on the Bates job became delinquent. Century filed a material lien against the Bates property and filed a complaint seeking to foreclose the lien against the property. The district court ultimately enforced the lien. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the lien was not timely filed as a matter of law. View "Bates v. Chicago Lumber Co. of Omaha" on Justia Law

by
Leon and Brenda Rogers purchased a home from Jeffrey Wright. The Rogers subsequently discovered several defects in the home and sued Wright, JWright Development, LLC, and JWright Companies, Inc. (collectively, the JWright defendants), alleging breach of contract, negligence, breach of warranty, and negligent and intentional misrepresentation. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the JWright defendants. The Supreme Court reversed the district court’s order on the negligence claim but otherwise affirmed, holding (1) issues of material fact existed regarding whether the builder of the Rogers’ home breached its legal duty to build the home in a reasonable and workmanlike manner; and (2) the district court properly granted summary judgment in favor of the JWright defendants on the remainder of the Rogers’ claims. View "Rogers v. Wright" on Justia Law

by
Electrical Wholesale Supply Co. (EWS) filed this action seeking payment for electrical materials it supplied to a commercial building remodel. EWS sued, among other defendants, Alane Fraser, the owner of the commercial property, and M.J. Bishop Concrete & Construction, Inc. (Bishop Construction), the general contractor, for foreclosure of a construction lien, breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and third party beneficiary. The circuit court denied EWS’s claims. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded, holding that the circuit court (1) applied the wrong statute to the lien notice issue and erred by granting summary judgment in favor of Fraser on the lien claim; but (2) did not err in concluding that EWS did not prove its unjust enrichment claim against Fraser and Bishop Construction. View "Elec. Wholesale Supply Co., Inc. v. Fraser" on Justia Law

by
After a jury trial, Defendant was found guilty of felony theft. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) there was sufficient evidence for the jury to reasonably conclude that Defendant possessed the requisite intent to deprive; (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion when it imposed no sanction for the State’s discovery violation; (3) the district court erred when when it allowed evidence of Defendant’s prior felony conviction, but the error was harmless; (4) the district court did not commit plain error when it prohibited defense counsel from questioning a police officer about Defendant’s “nonstatements” made during his interview following his arrest; and (5) Defendant waived his right to challenge the district court’s response to the jury question under the invited error doctrine. View "Toth v. State" on Justia Law

by
Appellant submitted a bid for a highway project in Sublette County, Wyoming and was the low bidder. The Board of County Commissioners of Sublette County awarded the contract to another bidder, a contractor that was from Sublette County. Appellant filed a complaint in the district court alleging that by not entering into the contract with Appellant, the Commissioners violated Wyo. Stat. Ann. 16-6-102(a). The district court found in favor of the Commissioners on all claims. On appeal, the Supreme Court held section 16-6-102(a) inapplicable and remanded the case for a determination of whether the award was appropriate. On remand, the district court held generally in favor of the Commissioners, finding that the Commissioners’ award was within their discretion and appropriate. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Commissioners’ utilization of an undisclosed preference for Sublette County contractors in awarding the public contract opened for competitive bid constituted an illegal exercise of discretion. Remanded for a determination of damages. View "W. Wyo. Constr. Co., Inc. v. Bd. of County Comm’rs" on Justia Law

by
Christopher Walton and Tammara Duhn hired Jacob Hatch and his construction company (collectively, Hatch) as the general contractor to build a custom home in a subdivision. Hatch drew up two proposed written contracts, but Walton and Duhn would not sign either one. Nevertheless, construction began. A dispute over what Walton and Duhn owed Hatch led Hatch to terminate his involvement in the project before the house was finished. Walton and Duhn sued Hatch for breach of contract, among other claims. The district court entered judgment in favor of Walton and Duhn and awarded damages. The Supreme Court reversed in part and affirmed in part, holding that the district court (1) erred in calculating the damages that Walton and Duhn suffered as a result of Hatch’s improper billing practices; (2) erred in finding liability and awarding damages for breach of an implied warranty that the home would be built in a skillful and workmanlike manner; and (3) did not abuse its discretion in denying Walton’s and Duhn’s application for attorney fees. View "Walton v. Hatch" on Justia Law

by
After an exhaust pipe in the furnace in their home ruptured, Richard and Mary Horning were diagnosed with having sustained severe carbon monoxide poisoning. The Hornings sued Penrose Plumbing & Heating, Inc. and others, alleging that Penrose was negligent in installing the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system. The district court granted summary judgment for Penrose, determining that the Hornings did not file their complaint within the applicable ten-year statute of repose. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the district court erred in its interpretation of the applicable statute of repose; and (2) under the facts of this case, the Hornings’ complaint was timely filed. View "Horning v. Penrose Plumbing & Heating Inc." on Justia Law

by
The Andrews, a married couple, contracted to purchase a newly constructed home from Appellants, Joe Seneshale and his company, Legacy Builders, LLC (together, Legacy). After the Andrews took possession of the property, they discovered that the house had numerous structural and cosmetic flaws. The Andrews filed a complaint against Legacy alleging breach of contract and breach of implied warranty of habitability. The trial court entered judgment in favor of the Andrews and awarded a total of $319,302 in damages. The Supreme Court affirmed but remanded with instructions to correct the damage award, holding (1) when the cost of repairs in a homeowners’ construction case alleging breach of contract and breach of warranty may be disproportionate to the loss in value to the home resulting from the breach, the plaintiff has the burden of proving damages at trial, and the defendant has the burden of challenging the reasonableness or disproportionality of the plaintiff’s method; and (2) the district court did not commit clear error when it relied upon the majority of the Andrews’ cost of repair expert’s testimony and when it found that expansive soils caused damages to the home’s foundation. View "Legacy Builders, LLC v. Andrews" on Justia Law

by
Western Wyoming Construction Company (WWC) submitted a bid for a highway project in Sublette County. The Board of County Commissioners of Sublette County (Commissioners) awarded the contract to another resident contractor whose bid was higher than WWC's. WWC filed a complaint in district court for an order awarding it the contract for the project. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the Commissioners. At issue on appeal was whether Wyo. Stat. 16-6-102(a) required the Commissioners to award the contract to the responsible certified Wyoming resident making the lowest bid. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) section 16-6-102 has no application in the context of two resident contractors; and (2) because no evidence was presented showing where the funds came from to pay for the project, (i) there could be no finding as to what statutory provision, if any, was applicable, and (ii) a judicial determination as to the appropriateness of the bid award was not possible. Remanded. View "W. Wyo. Constr. Co., Inc. v. Bd. of County Comm'rs" on Justia Law