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Court reduces $1.4M judgment in dispute over work done at Honda plant

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has found that Greensburg-based Custom Conveyor Inc. is only entitled to recover about a tenth of the original $1.4 million awarded to it on breach of contract and warranty claims the company made against a subcontractor regarding work on the Indiana Honda plant.

Honda hired CCI, which specializes in installing conveyor systems in factories, to install the necessary systems in the plant it was building in Greensburg. CCI subcontracted computer programming and electrical control box work to L.H. Controls Inc. There were issues with L.H. completing work on time. The delays resulted in pushing the conveyor installation back three months, but that did not affect the opening of the factory.

L.H. sought payment for unpaid invoices from CCI, which it did not pay, so L.H. filed a mechanic’s lien against the Honda plant as well as a personal liability notice against Honda. CCI eventually paid a portion of the invoices, withholding more than $80,000 in chargebacks. L.H. sued Honda and CCI in 2009 for breach of contract and to enforce the personal liability notice against Honda and foreclose the mechanic’s lien. Honda was eventually dismissed and CCI counterclaimed for breach of contract and warranty and indemnification.

The trial court found L.H. breached its contract with CCI in 12 ways, had a contractual obligation to indemnify CCI, and breached warranties. It ultimately awarded CCI damages against L.H. in the amount of $1,409,896.97, which later went up to $1,467,587.61 after factoring in attorney fees and costs.

In L.H. Controls, Inc. v. Custom Conveyor, Inc., 16A05-1111-PL-606, the Court of Appeals reversed the lost profit damages of $1,144,470 awarded to CCI, the $133,328.53 in attorney fees, and the award of damages of $82,184.10 for CCI’s chargebacks, as well as $5,259.38 in set-off for L.H. the court allowed against the chargebacks amount.

Judge Michael Barnes wrote the appellate court could not discern any conceivable basis upon which to affirm the award of lost profit damages against L.H. in any amount. CCI is entitled to seek to make a profit on projects it completes, but there is nothing in the trial court’s findings or the record that would support shifting that expectation onto the back of L.H., he continued.

There is no plain language in the master construction agreement’s indemnity provision that clearly and unambiguously states L.H. would be required to indemnify CCI for all costs associated with any cause of action asserted even by parties to the agreement in a breach of contract action between the parties, the judges held. L.H. would not be required to pay CCI’s attorney fees.

The trial court also erred in including the $82,000 in chargebacks.

The judges did affirm $8,005.86 in costs related to CCI’s removal of the mechanic’s lien against Honda’s property. That amount combined with the damages L.H. did not challenge on appeal – which totaled $104,858.60 – means CCI is only entitled to $112,864.46.

 

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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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