ILNews

Company that violated HICA not entitled to attorney fees

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

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.
 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Indiana State Bar Association

Indianapolis Bar Association

Evansville Bar Association

Allen County Bar Association

Indiana Lawyer on Facebook

facebook
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. "Am I bugging you? I don't mean to bug ya." If what I wrote below is too much social philosophy for Indiana attorneys, just take ten this vacay to watch The Lego Movie with kiddies and sing along where appropriate: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=etzMjoH0rJw

  2. I've got some free speech to share here about who is at work via the cat's paw of the ACLU stamping out Christian observances.... 2 Thessalonians chap 2: "And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe. For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own people the same things those churches suffered from the Jews who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to everyone in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last."

  3. Did someone not tell people who have access to the Chevy Volts that it has a gas engine and will run just like a normal car? The batteries give the Volt approximately a 40 mile range, but after that the gas engine will propel the vehicle either directly through the transmission like any other car, or gas engine recharges the batteries depending on the conditions.

  4. Catholic, Lutheran, even the Baptists nuzzling the wolf! http://www.judicialwatch.org/press-room/press-releases/judicial-watch-documents-reveal-obama-hhs-paid-baptist-children-family-services-182129786-four-months-housing-illegal-alien-children/ YET where is the Progressivist outcry? Silent. I wonder why?

  5. Thank you, Honorable Ladies, and thank you, TIL, for this interesting interview. The most interesting question was the last one, which drew the least response. Could it be that NFP stamps are a threat to the very foundation of our common law American legal tradition, a throwback to the continental system that facilitated differing standards of justice? A throwback to Star Chamber’s protection of the landed gentry? If TIL ever again interviews this same panel, I would recommend inviting one known for voicing socio-legal dissent for the masses, maybe Welch, maybe Ogden, maybe our own John Smith? As demographics shift and our social cohesion precipitously drops, a consistent judicial core will become more and more important so that Justice and Equal Protection and Due Process are yet guiding stars. If those stars fall from our collective social horizon (and can they be seen even now through the haze of NFP opinions?) then what glue other than more NFP decisions and TRO’s and executive orders -- all backed by more and more lethally armed praetorians – will prop up our government institutions? And if and when we do arrive at such an end … will any then dare call that tyranny? Or will the cost of such dissent be too high to justify?

ADVERTISEMENT