Justia Construction Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Delaware Supreme Court
Parke Bancorp Inc., et al. v. 659 Chestnut LLC
Parke Bancorp (“Parke”) made a loan to 659 Chestnut LLC (“659 Chestnut”) in 2016 to finance the construction of an office building in Newark, Delaware. 659 Chestnut pleaded a claim in the Superior Court for money damages in the amount of a 1% prepayment penalty it had paid under protest when it paid off the loan. The basis of 659 Chestnut’s claim was that the parties were mutually mistaken as to the prepayment penalty provisions of the relevant loan documents. Parke counterclaimed for money damages in the amount of a 5% prepayment penalty, which it claimed was provided for in the agreement. After a bench trial, the Superior Court agreed with 659 Chestnut and entered judgment in its favor. After review, the Delaware Supreme Court reversed and directed entry of judgment in Parke’s favor on 659 Chestnut’s claim. Although Parke loan officer Timothy Cole negotiated on behalf of Parke and represented to 659 Chestnut during negotiations that there was a no-penalty window, the parties stipulated that: (1) everyone knew that Cole did not have authority to bind Parke to loan terms; and (2) everyone also knew that any terms proposed by Cole required both final documentation and approval by Parke’s loan committee. It was evident to the Supreme Court that 659 Chestnut did not offer clear and convincing evidence that Parke’s loan committee agreed to something other than the terms in the final loan documents. Accordingly, it Directed entry of judgment for Parke. View "Parke Bancorp Inc., et al. v. 659 Chestnut LLC" on Justia Law
LTL Acres Limited Partnership v. Butler Manufacturing Co.
This litigation arose from the construction of a "Johnny Janosik" furniture store in Laurel. The Plaintiff-appellant LTL Acres Limited Partnership (LTL) was the owner of the Janosik Building. Defendant-appellee Butler Manufacturing Company (Butler) provided pre-engineered components which were used to build the roof and exterior walls. Defendant-appellee Dryvit Systems, Inc. (Dryvit) supplied a product used on the exterior finish of the walls, to protect and seal them. Dryvit warranted its product for ten years from the "date of substantial completion of the project." The building was completed in 2006. Unfortunately, the building had issues with water infiltration from the beginning. By February 2012, cladding began to crack and buckle. The water infiltration and delamination persisted through 2013 despite attempts to fix the issues. LTL brought this action in 2013, alleging breach of warranty, breach of contract, and negligence claims against Butler; and breach of warranty and breach of contract claims against Dryvit. The Superior Court granted summary judgment to both Butler and Dryvit on the grounds that the actions against both were barred by the applicable statute of limitations. It held that the action against Butler was barred by 10 Del. C. sec. 8127,which is a six year statute of limitations relating to alleged defective construction of an improvement to real property. After review, the Supreme Court concluded that summary judgment in favor of Butler was proper. The Superior Court ruled that LTL’s action against Dryvit was barred by a four year statute of limitations set forth in 6 Del. C. sec. 2-725. Dryvit gave LTL a ten year express warranty. The Superior Court described the warranty as a “repair and replacement warranty” and reasoned that such a warranty cannot be one that extended to future performance. It therefore concluded that the statute of limitations for an action on the warranty expired not later than four years after the Dryvit product was tendered and applied to the building; that is, not later than four years after 2006. The Supreme Court concluded that grant of summary judgment in favor of Dryvit was inappropriate, and had to be reversed. The case was remanded for further proceedings. View "LTL Acres Limited Partnership v. Butler Manufacturing Co." on Justia Law
Taylor v. Delaware
Defendant-appellant Stanley Taylor appealed his convictions on: eighteen counts of Unlawful Sexual Conduct Against a Child by a Sex Offender; one count of Attempted Unlawful Sexual Conduct Against a Child by a Sex Offender; and two counts of Endangering the Welfare of a Child. The indictment was based on allegations that Defendant engaged in unlawful sexual conduct with his two minor step-granddaughters. To avoid prejudice to Defendant, the sex offender element of his crimes was redacted from the indictment and a separate bench trial was held on that element after the jury returned its verdict. The State dismissed five counts at the close of the evidence. The jury was ultimately left to consider the following charges: four counts of Rape in the First Degree; four counts of Rape in the Second Degree; seven counts of Sexual Exploitation of a Child; one count of Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child; and one count of Endangering the Welfare of a Child. Defendant was found guilty of all of the offenses presented to the jury. Thereafter, in a bench trial, the Superior Court found that Defendant was a registered sex offender at the time of the offenses, resulting in guilty verdicts on all of the sex offender charges. Defendant was sentenced to eight life sentences, plus an additional 225 years of incarceration. Defendant has raised four arguments in his direct appeal to the Supreme Court: (1) that the prosecutor made an improper closing argument that jeopardized the fairness and integrity of his trial; (2) that the trial judge abused his discretion and violated Defendant's right to a fair trial when, despite Defendant's request, he refused to strike allegedly irrelevant and highly prejudicial testimonial evidence by a nurse; (3) the trial judge abused his discretion when he allowed the jury to view one of the complainant's out-of-court statements; and (4) the cumulative impact of all of the errors amounts to plain error. Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded that each of Defendant's first three assignments of error were without merit. Accordingly, there was no cumulative impact amounting to plain error. View "Taylor v. Delaware" on Justia Law
Riverbend Community, LLC, et al. v. Green Stone Engineering, LLC, et al.
Riverbend Community, LLC and Parkway Gravel, Inc. jointly owned a parcel of land (the Property), which they intended to develop into residential real estate. Before purchasing the Property, Riverbend and Green Stone Engineering, LLC signed a August 2005 Contract, which required Green Stone to perform four tasks: (1) Site Evaluation and Regulatory Review, (2) Wetlands Restoration Conceptual Design, (3) Wetland Enhancement Conceptual Layout, and (4) Regulatory Meetings and Presentation. In March 2006, the parties signed a second contract which required Green Stone to provide design services for the site and roadways, the stormwater collection and conveyance systems, the sanitary sewer system, the water supply piping system, the stormwater management plans, the sediment and erosion control plans, and the landscape plans. Green Stone left the project in late 2007. Riverbend hired a new engineering firm to complete the work, but the new firm needed Green Stone's work product. Green Stone would not release its work product unless Riverbend executed a release. In 2009, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued two Cease and Desist Letters against Riverbend because of the work in the wetlands. Meanwhile, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control filed a complaint against Riverbend too. As a result of the federal and state issues, Riverbend could not sell houses, and its lender foreclosed on and purchased the Property at a sheriff's sale in April 2012. Riverbend sued Green Stone for breach of contract, professional negligence, and simple negligence. Green Stone moved for summary judgment on the grounds that the economic loss doctrine barred the tort claims and the general release barred all claims. The trial judge granted the motion, and Riverbend appealed. Upon review, the Supreme Court interpreted the release as a general release, and did not address the application of the economic loss doctrine. Because the Court found the release was a general release that unambiguously waived all claims, the Court affirmed the grant of summary judgment below on both the tort and contract claims. View "Riverbend Community, LLC, et al. v. Green Stone Engineering, LLC, et al." on Justia Law
Julian v. Delaware Dep’t. of Transportation
In this appeal, the issue before the Supreme Court was whether a contractor's bid was responsive to the Delaware Department of Transportation's (DelDOT) Request for Proposals (RFP). The contractor's bid did not include required paint certifications. In addition, the bid reflected the contractor's plan to use new steel beams, rather than refurbish the existing ones, as required by the RFP. The contractor chose to submit a bid that did not conform to the project specifications. The Supreme Court concluded that the contractor therefore did so at its own risk. DelDOT's decision that the bid was non-responsive was not arbitrary or capricious. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the trial court's entry of summary judgment in DelDOT's favor. View "Julian v. Delaware Dep't. of Transportation" on Justia Law
Brandywine Smyrna, Inc., et al. v. Millennium Builders, LLC
Plaintiffs sued defendant in contract and tort, alleging that defendant failed to take necessary precautions to protect its premises from water damage. At issue on appeal was the trial judge's decision not to grant prejudgment interest on the amounts that were awarded by the jury to plaintiffs. The court held that plaintiffs were entitled to prejudgment interest as a matter of right and remanded to the Superior Court to determine the amount of prejudgment interest owed. View "Brandywine Smyrna, Inc., et al. v. Millennium Builders, LLC" on Justia Law