Shafer Electric & Construction v. Mantia

In August, 2010, Appellants, Washington County residents Raymond and Donna Mantia, hired Appellee, West Virginia contractor Shafer Electric & Construction, to build a 34 foot by 24 foot, two-car garage addition onto their house. The proposals for the garage did not comply with several requirements of Section 517.7 of the Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act. Specifically, any home improvement contract, in order to be valid and enforceable against the owner of real property, had to be legible, in writing, and contain thirteen other specific requirements. Despite the detail in the specifications for the work to be completed, the contract here only complied with subsections (5), (7), and (8) of Section 517.7(a). Notwithstanding these deficiencies, work on the project began in October, 2010, when Appellants, who owned their own excavation business, began the foundation excavation. When Appellee commenced construction of the addition, it contended that problems surfaced because of Appellants' failure to complete the excavation work properly. During the subsequent months, Appellants eventually reexcavated the foundation area for the addition and, in the process (according to Appellee), changed the design of the addition several times. Negotiations into these design changes and other necessary alterations as a result of the excavation problems occurred, but ultimately failed when Appellants apparently refused to enter into a new contract with Appellee. Upon the breakdown of the negotiations, the parties mutually agreed that Appellee would invoice Appellants for the work completed, and that Appellee would discontinue efforts on the project. Appellants refused to pay the bill. Appellee responded by filing a mechanic's lien in the Washington County Court of Common Pleas. When Appellants still had failed to satisfy the outstanding balance, Appellee filed a civil action in the common pleas court, alleging both breach of contract and quantum meruit causes of action. The Supreme Court granted allowance of appeal in this matter to determine whether the Act barred a contractor from recovery under a theory of quantum meruit in the absence of a valid and enforceable home improvement contract as defined by the Act. The Superior Court held that the Act did not bar a cause of action sounding in quantum meruit and, for slightly different reasons, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Shafer Electric & Construction v. Mantia" on Justia Law