Submitted October 2, 2013
Richard E. Berl, Jr., Esquire, counsel for Appellant/Plaintiff-below
H. Clay Davis III, Esquire, counsel for Appellees/Defendants-below
DECISION AFTER TRIAL
The Honorable, Rosemary Betts Beauregard
In this breach of contract action the Court is called upon to determine whether Defendants are liable to Plaintiff for damages resulting from renovation work to Plaintiff's residence. On August 28, 2013, the Court held a bench trial in this matter. This is the Court's decision.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
The Court makes the following findings of fact after hearing the testimony and reviewing the exhibits presented at trial. In August 2010, Constantin Afilipoaei (hereinafter "Plaintiff") and Frue-Con Contracting Services, LLC through its President, Erin R. Fruehauf, (hereinafter collectively referred to as "Defendants") began negotiations for the completion of interior remodeling to Plaintiff's residence in Selbyville, Delaware. On August 30, 2010, Defendants provided Plaintiff with three options, which were collectively referred to as Bid #511. Plaintiff chose Option C, which provided for installation of six replacement windows, three new doors and extensive interior remodeling.
Approximately two months later, the parties entered into negotiations to replace the roof of Plaintiff's residence. On November 3, 2010, after Plaintiff rejected Defendants' $6, 000.00 bid for a complete replacement of the roof, Defendants submitted a bid to Plaintiff for repair work to the roof, referenced as Bid #615 which included, "cover over existing shingle roof with architectural grade shingles at owner's request only [and] all wood replacement will be upcharge[d] as necessary". On November 4, 2010, the parties signed a proposal for both bids, including: Bid #511 for interior remodeling with an estimated cost of $17, 800.00 and Bid #615 for the roof repair with an estimated cost of $3, 000.00, for a total cost of $20, 800.00 for all improvements to Plaintiff's residence. At Defendant Fruehauf's request, Plaintiff submitted a deposit of $10, 000.00. Per the proposal, payment for each line item of the proposal was to be tendered at the time of completion of the line item. Defendants estimated that the work would take six to eight weeks to complete.
Defendants began work on the roof two weeks later in mid-November. In mid-December, Defendants completed work on the roof. In mid-January, Defendants returned to install two windows. At that time, Defendants requested payment for the roof work. Plaintiff tendered a partial-payment of $1, 500.00. On that same day, after partially installing the windows, Defendants removed their tool trailer from the job site. Defendants did not return or contact Plaintiff for several months thereafter. During this time, Plaintiff attempted to contact Defendants to no avail. At the end of March, Defendant Fruehauf returned with members of his crew to collect the ladders that they had left behind at Plaintiff's residence. An argument ensued, and Plaintiff contacted the state police. The state police advised Defendant Fruehauf to collect the ladders and not return to Plaintiff's residence.
The parties signed a binding contract for extensive interior and exterior renovations to Plaintiff's residence. The salient issues presented to this Court are whether Defendants satisfactorily performed their duties under the contract, and if Defendants breached their duties, whether the Plaintiff is owed any damages.
To prevail on a breach of contract claim, a plaintiff must prove three (3) elements by a preponderance of the evidence:
(1)the existence of a contract, whether express or implied;
(2)the breach of an obligation imposed by the ...