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Company that violated HICA not entitled to attorney fees

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Because a company hired to provide water remediation services for a homeowner did not comply with the Indiana Home Improvement Contract Act, it is not entitled to recover attorney fees on its complaint against the homeowner after he didn’t pay the full amount billed.

Vincent Cullers hired First Response Services when discovering water in his basement after being away from home for several days. A company representative came to the house and discussed removing the carpet and pad from the basement, but no contract or estimate was given at that time. The next day a dumpster was delivered that Cullers did not expect. First Response employees arrived and began removing carpet. While they were working, an employee gave Cullers two documents to sign: a “Third Party Work Authorization” form and a “Customer Communication/Work Authorization” form listing.  The Third Party Work Authorization form mentions that Cullers is responsible for anything that is not covered by his insurer.

He signed the papers and left while work was being performed. When he returned, he found drying equipment in the basement, which he didn’t authorize. He contacted First Response to pick up the equipment and offered the company $1,200, which the company declined. It sent him an invoice for $7,722.43. He refused to pay more than $1,200, leading to this litigation.

The trial court found First Response violated the HICA by failing to provide Cullers a contract that included a reasonably detailed description of the proposed home improvements, the home improvement contract price, and starting and completion dates. There is a contractual obligation for Cullers to pay for First Response’s services, but because of the HICA violations, Cullers is only responsible for nearly half the amount First Response billed.

The trial court denied First Response’s request for attorney fees.

First Response argued that the contract was modified by I.C. 24-5-11-10(c) dealing with a contract entered into involving damages covered by an insurance policy. But there’s no evidence that Cullers was asked if his insurance would cover part of the cost or if he had contacted his insurance agent about coverage.

“It cannot have been the intent of the legislature to allow a company to routinely circumvent the strict requirements of the statute by simply obtaining information about the fact of insurance without also inquiring into whether the insurance would actually cover the work,” Judge Margret Robb wrote. “This is especially true given that a contract with the modified requirements is allowed by the terms of the statute if the work ‘is covered’ by insurance, not ‘if the consumer has insurance,’ or if the work ‘might be covered.’”

The two documents in this case needed to comply with the requirements of subsection (a) of HICA, and the contract failed in several respects, specifically with respect to a reasonably detailed description of the proposed home improvements and a price. As a result, First Response is not entitled to attorney fees.

The case is First Response Services, Inc. v. Vincent A. Cullers (Vincent A. Cullers Counterclaim Plaintiff v. First Response Services, Inc. Counterclaim Defendant), 41A01-1305-PL-224.
 

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  1. Indianapolis employers harassment among minorities AFRICAN Americans needs to be discussed the metro Indianapolis area is horrible when it comes to harassing African American employees especially in the local healthcare facilities. Racially profiling in the workplace is an major issue. Please make it better because I'm many civil rights leaders would come here and justify that Indiana is a state the WORKS only applies to Caucasian Americans especially in Hamilton county. Indiana targets African Americans in the workplace so when governor pence is trying to convince people to vote for him this would be awesome publicity for the Presidency Elections.

  2. Wishing Mary Willis only God's best, and superhuman strength, as she attempts to right a ship that too often strays far off course. May she never suffer this personal affect, as some do who attempt to change a broken system: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QojajMsd2nE

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  4. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  5. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

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