Justia Construction Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Alabama Supreme Court
Turquoise Properties Gulf, Inc. v. Overmyer
Turquoise Properties Gulf, Inc. (Turquoise) appealed a circuit court judgment that denied its motion to alter, amend or vacate an arbitration award in an action filed by Clark A. Cooper, David L. Faulkner, Jr., and Hugh and Adrienne Overmyer (collectively, Claimants). Claimants signed purchase and escrow agreements to purchase condominiums to be built as part of "phase I" of a complex Turquoise was developing in Orange Beach. In conjunction with the purchase, they each posted a letter of credit for 20% of the purchase price. When construction neared substantial completion, the Claimants declined to "close" on the purchases on their respective units, allegedly because Turquoise had failed to build an outdoor pool and sundeck area or to provide individual storage units and private cabanas which it had agreed to build and to provide. The purchase and escrow agreements contained an arbitration provision. Claimants' initial demands contained claims of breach of contract, fraud, and violations of the Interstate Land Sales Full Disclosure Act. The arbitrator entered a lengthy arbitration award containing findings of fact and conclusions of law, ultimately in favor of the Claimants. Turquoise filed a motion to modify the arbitration award on the ground that the arbitrator had made a computational error in his calculation of damages. Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded that the arbitrator did mistakenly calculate damages owed to the claimants. The Court vacated the arbitrator's award and remanded the case for recalculation of damages. View "Turquoise Properties Gulf, Inc. v. Overmyer" on Justia Law
Thomas v. Sloan Homes, LLC
Sammy Thomas and Pam Thomas appealed the Blount Circuit Court's order granting a motion to compel arbitration filed by Sloan Homes, LLC ("Sloan Homes"), David Sloan, and Teresa Sloan in the Thomases' action alleging breach of contract and tortious conduct in relation to the construction of a house by Sloan Homes, the grantor under the residential sales agreement. The question presented by this appeal was whether, under the doctrine of merger, the execution and delivery of the deed in this case nullified an arbitration clause included in the antecedent residential sales agreement. Upon review, the Supreme Court found that the arbitration clause was still valid, thereby affirming the circuit court's order granting Sloan Homes and the Sloans' motion to compel arbitration of the Thomases' claims. View "Thomas v. Sloan Homes, LLC" on Justia Law
Garrison Steel Fabricators, Inc. v. No. 1 Steel Products, Inc.
In 2007, Massachusetts Defendant No. 1 Steel Products, Inc. (No. 1 Steel) was a subcontractor on a construction project at a health rehabilitation center in Massachusetts (Cape Regency project). While working on the project, No. 1 Steel determined that it needed to hire out some of the steel fabrication for which it was responsible. No. 1 Steel found Alabama Plaintiff Garrison Steel Fabricators, Inc. (Garrison). No. 1 Steel was dissatisfied with Garrison's work and refused to pay Garrison anything beyond what it had previously paid. In an attempt to collect the remaining amount owed, Garrison sent No. 1 Steel notice that it intended to file mechanic's liens on the project unless it was paid. Upon receiving the notice, No. 1 Steel filed a motion in Massachusetts court to discharge and release the not-yet-filed-lien, arguing that Garrison was not registered to do business in Massachusetts and that no written contract of the parties' agreement existed. The Massachusetts court granted the motion without stating a rationale. In 2009 Garrison sued No. 1 Steel in Alabama court, asserting claims of open account, implied contract and labor and work performed. No. 1 Steel moved to dismiss, arguing a lack of personal jurisdiction. Upon review of the record, the Supreme Court found the "specific contacts" No. 1 Steel had were not sufficient enough that it should have anticipated being haled into court in Alabama; No. 1 Steel's relationship with Garrison was limited to a one-time purchase of customized goods. The Court directed the trial court to dismiss Garrison's case because the court lacked personal jurisdiction over No. 1 Steel. View "Garrison Steel Fabricators, Inc. v. No. 1 Steel Products, Inc." on Justia Law
Ryals v. Lathan Company, Inc.
Petitioner Willard Ryals appealed a trial court's order enforcing a creditor's judgment against him in favor of Respondent Lathan Company, Inc. (Lathan). In 2004, Lathan sued Ryals Construction Company for breach of a construction sub-contract. The contract called for Ryals to obtain workers' compensation insurance for the project. Lathan claimed it made an advance payment for the insurance. When Ryals failed to get the insurance, Lathan sued. No one appeared on behalf of Ryals on the trial date. A default judgment was entered on behalf of Lathan. Two years later, Lathan tried to collect on its default judgment by serving a post-judgment discovery request on Ryals Construction. The request went unanswered. Lathan filed a motion for sanctions, naming "Ryals Real Estate," Willard Ryals and Ryals Construction Company. Through counsel, Willard Ryals moved to strike the motion for sanctions which the trial court granted. Lathan then amended its complaint to substitute Willard Ryals with fictitious parties. Rather than re-allege the allegations of its first complaint, Lathan sought to hold Ryals Real Estate and Willard Ryals liable as alter egos for the judgment it held against Ryals Construction Company. After a bench trial, the trial court determined that Lathan's amended complaint did not technically substitute Willard Ryals and Ryals Real Estate for fictitiously named parties in the original complaint; it added them and asserted a new cause of action. The court found that Willard Ryals and Ryals Construction were liable for the creditor judgment. Willard Ryals appealed, arguing that the trial court lacked jurisdiction over Lathan's amended complaint. Upon careful consideration of the trial court record and the applicable legal authority, the Supreme Court dismissed the case as void: "The trial court's attempt to treat Lathan's amended complaint as a new action was in words only and was not sufficient to commence a new action." Accordingly, the trial court did not have jurisdiction to enter its judgment against Willard Ryals and Ryals Real Estate.