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Home improvement contract enforceable

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Even though a restoration company’s contract with a homeowner did not satisfy the requirements of the Home Improvement Contracts Act, that did not automatically render the contract void, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled. The judges reversed judgment in favor of the homeowner and ordered he pay the company for the work it performed.

In Imperial Insurance Restoration & Remodeling, Inc. v. James Costello, No. 10A05-1109-SC-478, James Costello and his wife hired Imperial Insurance Restoration and Remodeling to repair water damage in their home following a burst pipe. The Costellos’ insurance company put them in touch with Imperial. James Costello did not read the agreements he signed, which included a work authorization and a satisfaction of work completed. The paperwork he signed did not comply with the requirements of the Home Improvement Contracts Act, which Imperial later admitted.

The Costellos received $670 from their insurer to cover the clean-up costs but did not pay Imperial for the work. Imperial took James Costello to small claims court and the court ruled in his favor. He asserted as a defense that the contracts did not comply with the HICA and were void.

The appellate judges pointed out that the HICA is silent as to whether contracts that do not meet the requirements are void or unenforceable. It declares a nonconforming contract to be a deceptive act and affords the aggrieved customer the remedies available to victims of deceptive consumer sales under the Deceptive Consumer Sales Act. The judges determined that the lack of the use of “void” or “unenforceable” in the HICA did not mean the General Assembly intended that every contract made in violation of the HICA was automatically void.

“If we were to so hold, Imperial would suffer both a serious and undeserved forfeiture outweighing the other factors,” wrote Judge L. Mark Bailey.

The COA ordered judgment be entered in favor of Imperial for $669.86 and that the small claims court determine the contractual interest due on the contract and if any costs and attorney fees should be awarded.

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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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