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Judges rule in favor of homeowner

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A trial court did not err when it found in favor of a homeowner on his breach of contract claim against the contractor he hired to repair his clay tile roof following a storm, the Indiana Court of Appeals concluded.

James McCulloch hired Steinrock Roofing & Sheet Metal Inc. to repair damage to his roof for around $95,000. McCulloch withheld his final payment of $15,000 to the company after finding deficiencies in the work completed, including falling and warped tiles. Steinrock sued for the unpaid balance in the amount of $20,096; McCulloch filed a counterclaim asserting the company installed the roof in a negligent manner.

Two roofing experts testified at trial that the roof would need repairs, although their estimates differed about the extent and cost of repairs. Steinrock admitted that some of the work would need redone but that the costs would only be about $6,000. The trial court found in favor of McCulloch, awarding him damages of $54,962, the difference between one expert’s estimate of $75,059 to repair the roof, less the balance due to Steinrock under the contract in the amount of $20,096.  

The COA affirmed in Steinrock Roofing & Sheet Metal Inc. v. James S. McCulloch, PNC Bank, N.A., No. 22A05-1108-CC-457, finding the trial court did not err in applying the rationale in Richey v. Chappel, 594 N.E.2d 443 (Ind. 1990), in these circumstances and quashing subpoenas that Steinrock had filed in an attempt to obtain the claims file information from McCulloch’s insurance carrier. The judges also affirmed the ruling in favor of McCulloch on Steinrock’s defamation claim. The company alleged McCulloch’s calling to the company and asking the receptionist if the company was still in business was a defamatory statement, but no evidence was presented that anyone else had heard this inquiry, that McCulloch told anyone about his question, or that it affected business.

The judges affirmed the damage award in favor of McCulloch was proper.

 

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