ILNews

Court to decide on prevailing party issue

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2008
Keywords
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
The Indiana Supreme Court granted transfer Thursday to determine who would be considered the "prevailing party" when a settlement lacks a judicial resolution.

In Kirk Reuille v. E.E. Brandenberger Construction, Inc., No. 02A04-0704-CV-186, Reuille appealed the trial court's judgment in favor of E.E. Brandenberger when the court decided Reuille was not the prevailing party in the contract between him and Brandenberger and said the trial court erred in characterizing his motion for attorney fees as one for summary judgment.

Reuille and Brandenberger entered into a contract for the construction of a new home in Fort Wayne. After completion, Reuille experienced water leakage through the windows during and after it would rain. Brandenberger attempted to fix the problem several times, but water continued to leak into the house.

Reuille filed a complaint against the company for breach of warranty, breach of contract, and negligence. He also added the maker of the windows to his suit. The three parties came to a partial agreement in mediation, with the exception of whether Brandenberger is liable for Reuille's costs, including attorney fees. In the contract Reuille entered into with Brandenberger, the prevailing party of any action at law or in equity involving a claim of at least $5,000 was entitled to reasonable costs, including attorney fees.

The trial court denied Reuille's motion for costs and attorney fees, finding Reuille wasn't the prevailing party.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court ruling, agreeing with Brandenberger's argument that with a private settlement only, Reuille is not a prevailing party as defined under Indiana law when the two entered into the contract or under current precedent. Even though the parties entered into a settlement agreement, Reuille didn't have a consent decree or an enforceable judgment entered along with the settlement agreement.

In terms of the trial court treating his motion for attorney fees as one for summary judgment, that was correct because there were no facts to dispute, so the hearing was for summary judgment, the Court of Appeals held.
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
ADVERTISEMENT