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Waterworks Restoration, LLC v. Marra

Court of Common Pleas of Delaware, New Castle

December 18, 2013

WATERWORKS RESTORATION, LLC d/b/a Paul Davis Restoration of Delaware Valley, Plaintiff-Below, Appellee,
v.
JOHN MARRA, Defendant-Below, Appellant.

Submitted: November 26, 2013

Stephen Morrow, Esq. Law Office of Joseph J. Rhoades Attorney for Defendant-Below, Appellant.

Michael P. Morton, Esq. Attorney for Plaintiff Below, Appellee

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER AFTER TRIAL

Honorable Sheldon K. Rennie, Judge

INTRODUCTION

This action comes to this Court on appeal from a Justice of the Peace decision awarding Waterworks Restoration, LLC, d/b/a Paul Davis Restoration of Delaware Valley (hereinafter "Paul Davis" or "the Company") Si 1, 271.62 plus court costs and interest. The action arose from a contract dispute over work performed by Paul Davis at John Marra's (hereinafter "Marra") property. Mr. Marra filed an appeal with this Court on March 13, 2012. A trial was held on November 26, 2013, and the Court reserved decision. This is the Court's Opinion in connection with the relief sought by Paul Davis.[1]

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Mr. Marra first hired Paul Davis after a pipe burst in his bathroom on October 22, 2010. He contracted the company to perform mitigation and renovation work on his home to restore it to its condition prior to the water damage. Mr. Marra signed a Work Authorization form on November 24, 2010, under which he agreed that, "This work authorization, along with all approved estimates, supplemental estimates and change orders shall constitute the contractual obligations of the Owners and Contractor."[2] On December 15, 2010, Paul Davis provided Mr. Marra with an initial estimate that Paul Davis also sent to Mr. Marra's insurance company.[3] Paul Davis also drew up estimates for mitigation, which involved stopping the damages caused by the water damage, and for reconstruction, which involved returning the house to its condition prior to the damage. In addition to the mitigation and restoration work, Mr. Marra requested that Paul Davis perform certain remodel work on his home, primarily to his second-floor bathroom. It was understood by both parties that the remodel work would not be covered by insurance and Mr. Marra would have to pay for that work outside of insurance proceeds. The overall cost for all work performed totaled $19, 042.75. Paul Davis completed the work on March 21, 2011, at which time Mr. Marra signed a Certificate of Completion and Satisfaction for Reconstruction Services.[4] The Certificate reads, in part, "This is to certify that all work required under our contract...to repair damage caused by water to our property...has been completed to our satisfaction."[5] Throughout the project, Paul Davis generated invoices that were sent to Mr. Marra. Mr. Marra and/or his insurance provider paid two invoices totaling $7, 771.13.[6] Mr. Marra refused to pay the remaining balance on the invoices.

On December 22, 2011, Paul Davis filed a debt action against Mr. Marra in the Justice of the Peace Court to recover the remaining balance for the work performed on Mr. Marra's house. On March 7, 2012, that Court found in favor of Paul Davis in the amount of $11, 271.62 plus interest and costs. Mr. Marra appealed the Justice of the Peace decision to this Court.

PARTIES' CONTENTIONS

Paul Davis contends that Mr. Marra owes a total of $11, 271.62 in unpaid invoices for the work that it performed on his property. The company alleges that it provided Mr. Marra with copies of all estimates, and that it would not have begun construction and renovation work on his house without Mr. Marra's approval of the estimates. Paul Davis also contends that it sent Mr. Marra periodic invoices. Mr. Marra foiled to pay all of the outstanding invoices, even though he did not voice any discontent with the work performed or completed prior to signing the Certificate of Completion. Paul Davis asserts that Mr. Marra should be required to pay the entire amount owed, because his signature on the Certificate bars any future allegations of dissatisfaction with the workmanship.

Mr. Marra admits that he entered into a contract with Paul Davis, and that the company performed construction work on his house. However, Mr. Marra alleges that Paul Davis did not restore his house in a workmanlike manner, and he alleges that the company did not perform some of the tasks and supply some of the materials for which Mr. Marra was charged on the invoices. Mr. Marra seeks to have the amount he owes lessened by the amount he was allegedly overcharged on the invoices.[7]

DISCUSSION

Appeals from matters decided on the merits by the Justice of the Peace Court are reviewed de novo.[8]In order to succeed on a breach of contract claim, Paul Davis must prove the following elements by a preponderance of the evidence: (1) the existence of a contract; (2) that defendant breached an obligation imposed by ...


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