Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

A House Mechanics, Inc. v. Massey

Court of Appeals of Indiana

May 23, 2019

A House Mechanics, Inc., Appellant-Plaintiff,
v.
Michael Massey, Appellee-Defendant

          Appeal from the Marion Superior Court The Honorable Timothy W. Oakes, Judge, Trial Court Cause No. 49D02-1609-PL-33823

          Attorney for Appellant Clinton E. Blanck, Blanck & Rubenstein, P.C., Indianapolis, Indiana

          Attorney for Appellee Scott D. Pankow Indianapolis, Indiana

          BAKER, JUDGE.

         [¶1] A House Mechanics, Inc. (AHM), appeals the trial court's order granting summary judgment in favor of Michael Massey on AHM's complaint. AHM argues that there are genuine issues of material fact related to its claims for breach of contract and foreclosure on a mechanic's lien rendering summary judgment improper. Finding no error, we affirm.

         Facts

         [¶2] Massey owns a residence and other structures on Sloan Avenue in Indianapolis. On June 6, 2016, Massey and AHM entered into a contract, pursuant to which AHM would remove and replace the roofs on all of Massey's buildings and install new siding and gutters on some. On June 15, 2016, Massey made a down payment of $12, 000 and AHM began work. The contract required that AHM would "comply with all applicable building codes." Appellant's App. Vol. II p. 23.

         [¶3] Massey began to notice multiple problems with the work being performed by AHM. He met repeatedly with Richard Hathaway, AHM's president, to express concerns and point out things that needed to be repaired.

         [¶4] On June 18, 2016, Massey confronted Hathaway with more issues, explaining that simply covering up the problem areas with shingles would not solve the underlying defects and noting that the defects could not be repaired once covered with shingles. Hathaway denied that there were any problems and refused to make repairs. Massey asked to see Hathaway's insurance policy and bond information; Hathaway refused, said he was done working on that job, and stated he intended to take the building materials and leave. Massey responded that Hathaway could not take the materials because Massey had already made a $12, 000 down payment. Hathaway then threatened to harm Massey physically and take his family's home. Massey told Hathaway to leave; Hathaway called the police.

         [¶5] Officers arrived and threatened to arrest Hathaway unless he calmed down. Massey and the officers tried to convince Hathaway to make the needed repairs, finish the job, and move on, but Hathaway refused. The officers told Hathaway to leave. On his way out, Hathaway told Massey to call the City Inspector, commenting that "'when it passes the inspection, I will take your house.'" Id. at 129.

         [¶6] On June 23, 2016, the City of Indianapolis Department of Code Enforcement issued a Notice of Violation listing multiple violations related to the construction work on Massey's property. The next day, the same department issued an Order to Stop Work, demanding that all work on that site stop because AHM had failed to notify the Bureau of Construction Services before starting construction and had failed to post a contractor form at the work site.

         [¶7] On June 24, 2016, Massey, via counsel, demanded that AHM return the $12, 000 down payment. On June 27, 2016, AHM responded by sending Massey an invoice for $6, 197.94, which AHM claimed was the remaining amount owed by Massey after applying the down payment. On June 29, 2016, AHM recorded a mechanic's lien on Massey's property.

         [¶8] On August 13, 2016, AHM filed a complaint against Massey, seeking damages for breach of contract and/or to foreclose on the mechanic's lien. On November 4, 2016, Massey filed an answer denying that he had breached the contract and denying that the work done by AHM had added any value to Massey's property. He also filed a counterclaim, alleging that AHM had slandered his title, abused the legal process by filing and seeking to foreclose on a mechanic's lien, violated the Indiana Home Improvement Contracts Act (HICA), and breached statutory home improvement warranties.[1]

         [¶9] On September 7, 2018, Massey moved for summary judgment, alleging that (1) there was no genuine issue of material fact that AHM had committed the first material breach of the parties' contract, meaning that AHM is not entitled to enforce the contract against Massey; and (2) AHM had failed to prove that its work added any value to Massey's property as required under the mechanic's lien statute. The trial court granted summary judgment in Massey's favor on October 29, 2018. In pertinent part, it found and held as follows:

         Findings of Fact

4. Massey paid [AHM] a $12, 000.00 down payment on June 15, 2016. [AHM], after taking the above-referenced down payment, walked off the job on June 18, 2016 when confronted about the defective quality of the work to that date.
5. [AHM] refused to correct the defective work and called the police. The police arrived and attempted to convince both parties to agree to allow [AHM] to complete the job and make needed repairs. Massey agreed to allow the repair attempt but [AHM] refused to do any further work, refused to return any portion of the down payment, and refused to leave any of the materials for the job with Massey, taking them with him when he walked off the job.
6. The home improvement repair job promised by [AHM] was inspected by the City of Indianapolis Code Enforcement on June 24, 2016 and a Notice of Violation and Order to Stop Work . . . were issued and posted on Massey's property detailing the many code violations found in [AHM's] work by the city inspector.
9. [AHM] recorded the mechanic's lien notice . . . on or about June 29, 2016 despite the fact that none of the materials or services provided by [AHM] added any value to Massey's property and in fact damaged or reduced the value of Massey's property.
10. [AHM] breached its contract to provide home improvement repairs by, among other things, failing, as specifically promised in [its] contract, to comply with applicable building and housing code requirements as evidenced by the Notice of Violation and Order to Stop Work . . . .
11. Prior to walking off the job, [AHM] threatened to record a mechanic's lien and bring this legal claim in an attempt to coerce Massey to pay additional amounts to which [AHM] had no legitimate legal claim.
13. The Court finds that [AHM's] labor and/or materials added no value or improvement to Massey's property and in fact damaged or reduced the value of Massey's property, that the mechanic's lien filed by [AHM] is invalid and should be vacated and released of record.

         Conclusions of Law

2. In order to pursue a claim for breach of contract or right to payment for construction services, [AHM] cannot have first breached the contract itself.
3. [AHM] has failed in this regard as a matter of law as the Notice of Violation and Order to Stop Work . . . detailing the many code violations found in [AHM's] work by the city inspector establish[] that [AHM] failed to comply with the specific promise in its contract ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.