Justia Alabama Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Construction Law
Construction Services, LLC v. RAM-Robertsdale Subdivision Partners, LLC
In Alabama, RAM-Robertsdale Subdivision Partners, LLC contracted Construction Services LLC, d/b/a MCA Construction, Inc. ("MCA") to build infrastructure for a proposed housing subdivision. The relationship between the two parties deteriorated, leading to a lawsuit by RAM-Robertsdale against MCA for various claims including breach of contract, negligence, and negligent misrepresentation, among others. MCA counterclaimed and also filed third-party claims against Retail Specialists, LLC, a member of RAM-Robertsdale, and Rodney Barstein, a corporate officer for Retail Specialists and RAM-Robertsdale, for breach of contract, fraud, unjust enrichment, and defamation. The RAM defendants moved for summary judgment on MCA's counterclaims and third-party claims, arguing that MCA was not properly licensed when it signed the contract, thus making the contract void for public policy. The circuit court granted the RAM defendants' motion for summary judgment and certified its judgment as final.On appeal, the Supreme Court of Alabama found that the circuit court had exceeded its discretion in certifying its judgment as final under Rule 54(b), Ala. R. Civ. P., because the claims pending below and those on appeal were closely intertwined, arising from the same contract and the parties' performance under that contract. The Court noted that if the contract was indeed void for public policy, then neither party would be able to enforce it, impacting the remaining claims pending in the circuit court. As the Court found that deciding the issues at this stage would create an intolerable risk of inconsistent results, it dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction. View "Construction Services, LLC v. RAM-Robertsdale Subdivision Partners, LLC" on Justia Law
McMurray Contracting, LLC v. Hardy
McMurray Contracting, LLC ("McMurray"), appealed a circuit court's denial of its second motion to compel arbitration of this case commenced by Kenneth Hardy and his wife Helen Hardy. The Hardys filed suit in December 2022 alleging they "retained" McMurray to perform restoration work to their house damaged in Hurricane Sally. The Hardys specifically alleged that McMurray "did not complete all restoration work in a good and workmanlike manner, and has refused to correct numerous deficiencies through [the Hardys'] property," and that McMurray "performed work and charged for materials that were never approved." The Alabama Supreme Court found McMurray's notice of appeal was not timely filed so as to invoke the Supreme Court's jurisdiction. Accordingly, it dismissed McMurray's appeal. View "McMurray Contracting, LLC v. Hardy" on Justia Law
City of Orange Beach v. Boles.
In consolidated appeals, the City of Orange Beach ("the City") appealed a judgment entered in favor of Ian Boles in regard to a dispute over the City's inspection of Boles' property. Between 2013 and 2015 Boles constructed two eight-bedroom duplexes on property he owned located within the City limits ("the beachfront property"). In September 2015, Boles filed a building-permit application seeking a permit to construct two additional multiple-level duplexes on the beachfront property. Additionally, in October 2015, Boles filed a separate building-permit application for the construction of a single-family dwelling on another parcel of property that Boles owned within the City limits ("the Burkhart Drive property"). At the time of each permit request, Boles completed a "Home Builders Affidavit" attesting that he was the owner of the property; that he would be acting as his own contractor on the proposed project, which would not be offered for sale; and that he was, thus, exempt from the requirement that he be licensed under Alabama's Home Builders Licensure Law. The building-permit packages provided to Boles explained that a certificate of occupancy for the proposed structure would not be issued until, among other things, "a subcontractor list has been submitted to the [City's] Finance Department." Boles also received with each package a blank subcontractor form for identifying all subcontractors for the proposed project, which specified that it was due within 10 days of the issuance of the building permits. Boles proceeded with construction on the two properties without completing or returning the subcontractor form for either property. Boles's electrical subcontractor apparently contacted the City to request an electrical meter-release inspection upon completion of the electrical portion of that project; the City refused. Boles contended the City either lacked the authority to and/or were exceeding their authority in refusing to inspect the beachfront property until the City received information to which, according to Boles, it was not entitled. The Alabama Supreme Court concluded the trial court erred both in submitting Boles's damages claims to a jury and in denying the City's motion seeking a judgment as a matter of law. The trial court's judgment was reversed, and these matters were remanded for further proceedings. View "City of Orange Beach v. Boles." on Justia Law
Ex parte Alabama Department of Transportation
Baldwin County Bridge Company, LLC ("BCBC"), filed suit against John Cooper in his official capacity as Director of the Alabama Department of Transportation ("ALDOT"), seeking to halt construction of a bridge that ALDOT had hired Scott Bridge Company, Inc. ("Scott Bridge"), to build over the Intracoastal Waterway in Baldwin County. That lawsuit spawned three matters before the Alabama Supreme Court. In the first, Cooper sought mandamus relief because the trial court entered an order compelling him to respond to certain discovery requests made by BCBC; he argued the information sought was protected from disclosure by the executive-privilege doctrine. On Cooper's motion, the Supreme Court stayed enforcement of the trial court's discovery order to allow the Court to consider Cooper's privilege argument. Meanwhile, the trial-court proceedings continued and, before the Supreme Court was able to rule on Cooper's mandamus petition, the trial court granted BCBC's motion for a preliminary injunction to halt construction of the bridge. Cooper appealed that injunction, arguing that it was unwarranted and that the $100,000 preliminary-injunction bond put up by BCBC was insufficient. Scott Bridge filed its own appeal challenging the preliminary injunction, while also arguing that the trial court erred by dismissing it from the case and by stating that it was not entitled to the protection of an injunction bond. After reviewing the briefs submitted by the parties in all three of these matters, the Supreme Court concluded BCBC's claim on which the preliminary injunction was based was barred by State immunity. Accordingly, the trial court had no subject-matter jurisdiction over that claim and the preliminary injunction had to be reversed. Although the Court ruled in favor of Cooper on this point, it nevertheless rejected his companion argument that the trial court should have been directed to increase the $100,000 preliminary-injunction bond on remand. The Court also rejected Scott Bridge's argument that that it was entitled to recover on the preliminary-injunction bond. Finally, because the discovery that Cooper sought to withhold based on executive privilege was being sought in conjunction with the claim that is barred by State immunity, the trial court's order compelling Cooper to produce that information was moot, as was Cooper's petition challenging that order. View "Ex parte Alabama Department of Transportation" on Justia Law
MSE Building Company, Inc v. The Stewart/Perry Company, et al.
MSE Building Company, Inc. ("MSE") appealed the grant of summary judgment entered in favor of The Stewart/Perry Company ("Stewart/Perry"); Buc-ee's, Ltd., and Buc-ee's Alabama II, LLC (referred to collectively as "Buc-ee's"); and Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Company ("Philadelphia"). Among other things, the trial court found MSE's claims against the defendants were unenforceable because MSE had violated § 34-8-1 et seq., Ala. Code 1975, which regulated contractors, by utilizing unlicensed sub-subcontractors in connection with a construction project. After review, the Alabama Supreme Court reversed summary judgment insofar as it determined that MSE's claims were barred as a matter of law under § 34-8-1 because there were material issues of disputed fact regarding whether the labor brokers utilized by MSE were required to obtain a general contractor's license under § 34-8-1. Accordingly, the summary judgment on MSE's lien claim and prompt-payment claim was also reversed. The summary judgment on MSE's negligence claim against Buc-ee's was affirmed. In addition, the summary judgment was affirmed insofar as it was entered in favor of Stewart/Perry on MSE's claims of unjust enrichment and quantum meruit, because MSE did not challenge the judgment on those claims in its appellate brief. View "MSE Building Company, Inc v. The Stewart/Perry Company, et al." on Justia Law
Allie Construction, Inc. v. Mosier
Allie Construction, Inc., obtained writs of garnishment against the estate of Willard Mosier one day shy of the 20th anniversary of obtaining a judgment against his widow Debra Mosier, a beneficiary of his estate. The Alabama Supreme Court found Allie Construction properly commenced an enforcement action, and that action should be allowed to proceed. In reaching a contrary conclusion, the Supreme Court found the circuit court erred. The circuit court judgment was reversed and the matter remanded for further proceedings. View "Allie Construction, Inc. v. Mosier" on Justia Law
Escapes! To the Shores Condominium Association, Inc. v. Hoar Construction, LLC, et al.
Escapes! To the Shores Condominium Association, Inc. ("the Association"), individually and on behalf of certain condominium-unit owners, appealed an order denying a Rule 59, Ala. R. Civ. P. motion to vacate a judgment entered on an arbitration award in favor of Hoar Construction, LLC ("Hoar"), and Architectural Surfaces, Inc. ("ASI"). The arbitration award in favor of Hoar and ASI stemmed from the construction of a condominium building located in Orange Beach known as "Escapes! To the Shores." Hoar was the general contractor for the construction project; Stephen Hill was the architect for the construction project; and ASI was the subcontractor responsible for the installation of the exterior surfaces to the condominium building. After construction of the condominium building was substantially complete, the developer of the project sold the units and transferred ownership and management of the common areas to the Association. The Association thereafter filed suit against Hoar, ASI, and Hill seeking damages arising out of alleged construction and design defects to the condominium building, specifically, "stucco blistering and water intrusion." The Association's claims against Hoar and ASI proceeded to arbitration, but its claims against Hill remained pending in the trial court. A panel of three arbitrators issued a final award in favor of Hoar and ASI, concluding, in relevant part, that the defects to the condominium building were the result of a design defect and not a construction defect. Once the trial court entered a judgment on the arbitration award, the Association thereafter filed a Rule 59 motion to vacate that judgment. The Alabama Supreme Court concluded the Association has failed to demonstrate that the arbitration panel engaged in misconduct that would warrant vacatur. Accordingly, the order denying the Association's Rule 59 motion and the judgment entered on the arbitration award were affirmed. View "Escapes! To the Shores Condominium Association, Inc. v. Hoar Construction, LLC, et al." on Justia Law
Builder Systems, LLC v. Klamer
Builder Systems, LLC, appealed an order, certified as final pursuant to Rule 54(b), Ala. R. Civ. P., entered in favor of George "Jerry" Klamer and his wife Lisa Klamer arising from a remediation and new-construction project performed by Builder Systems on the Klamers' house. Because the Alabama Supreme Court determined that the order was not appropriate for Rule 54(b) certification, it dismissed the appeal. View "Builder Systems, LLC v. Klamer" on Justia Law
Childs et al. v. Pommer
In case number 1190525, Paul Childs and Granger Construction Company, LLC ("Granger Construction"), appealed a circuit court judgment entered in favor of Harry ("Bud") and Brenda Pommer. In their cross-appeal, case number 1190580, the Pommers appealed the trial court's judgment entered in favor of Melissa Granger ("Melissa"), as the administratrix of the estate of Daniel Granger ("Granger"), deceased. In 2014, the Pommers decided to build a garage on property that they owned in Fairhope, Alabama. Childs was referred to Bud for the work. Childs brought Granger into the project as the licensed contractor for the work. The evidence presented at trial indicated that the project experienced significant delays. Evidence was presented indicating that Granger and Childs performed some of the physical labor on the project. In March 2015, when an invoice was presented to the Pommers, Bud and Brenda told the Childs and Granger that they did not want to give them another check based on how things had been going. A "heated" meeting between the parties resulted in the Pommers hiring an attorney. Bud requested the City conduct an inspection; the garage did not pass. The Pommers subsequently hired another contractor and other companies to repair work done by Granger Construction and to complete unfinished work on the project. The Pommers ultimately sued Childs and Granger Construction for breach of contract. Childs and Granger Construction filed their answer to the amended complaint and a counterclaim, asserting breach of contract/unjust enrichment against the Pommers. After review, the Alabama Supreme Court affirmed the trial court as to Granger Construction in case number 1190525. The Court reversed the trial court as to Childs, and rendered judgment in favor of Childs. In case number 1190580, the Court affirmed the trial court. View "Childs et al. v. Pommer" on Justia Law
JT Construction, LLC v. MW Industrial Services, Inc.
JT Construction, LLC ("JTC"), appealed a circuit court's judgment awarding declaratory and injunctive relief to MW Industrial Services, Inc. ("MWI"). MWI contracted with Golder Associates, Inc., to provide labor and services for a construction project at Plant Gorgas, a power plant operated by Alabama Power Company. Pursuant to the terms of the contract, MWI was prohibited from "permit[ting] any lien, affidavit of nonpayment, stop payment notice, attachment or other encumbrance ... to remain on record against [Plant Gorgas] or the property upon which it is situated for ... work performed or materials finished in connection [there]with" by any subcontractor with whom MWI might also contract. JTC subcontracted with MWI to work at Plant Gorgas. The subcontract agreement ("the lien-waiver provision") precluded JTC, in accordance with the master contract, from filing a lien against property owned by Alabama Power or Southern Company. Following execution of the subcontract agreement, a dispute arose between MWI and JTC in connection with JTC's performance of its contractual obligations and the amount owed to JTC for the work it had performed. In September 2020, counsel for JTC provided a "Notice of Mechanics' Lien" indicating that JTC claimed against the real property on which Plant Gorgas was situated, a lien in connection with JTC's work under the subcontract agreement. MWI pointed out the language of the lien-waiver provision of its subcontract, and demanded that JTC withdraw the lien notice. MWI asserted that JTC had been paid for any previous work before its execution of the subcontract agreement, and demanded that JTC withdraw its notice of lien. The trial court ultimately entered an order issuing a permanent injunction and ruling in favor of MWI on its declaratory-judgment claim, prohibiting JTC from filing its lien. The Alabama Supreme Court held the trial court erred in issuing the declaratory judgment and in awarding permanent injunctive relief without prior notice to JTC, as required by Rule 65(a)(2), and that JTC was prejudiced by that error. The trial court's judgment was therefore reversed, and this case was remanded for further proceedings. View "JT Construction, LLC v. MW Industrial Services, Inc." on Justia Law