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Judges rule in favor of state in contract dispute

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The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed a trial court judgment against the state in a lawsuit filed by a subcontractor working on an airport project in Gary, holding the lower court erroneously determined the state had breached a contract between it and the subcontractor.

Subcontractor Continental Electric Co. sued the State of Indiana Military Department, State Armory Board of Indiana and Gov. Mitch Daniels for breach of contract and quantum meruit. The Indiana Military Department hired Larson-Danielson Construction Co. as contractor. Continental submitted a bid to Larson for $1,794,660 to “furnish and install the labor, material and equipment necessary for the electrical portion of the above project.”

At dispute is an alternative known as Alternate No. 2 relating to the installation of a generator at the facility and what was included in the bid. Continental contended to Larson that it included all labor and materials associated with the generator in its bid and that the company would need a change order of $207,000 because this was the amount above the cost for the generator quoted to Continental at the time of the bid.

After trying to resolve the dispute with the state to no avail, Continental sued the state actors, claiming it performed all work under the contract and hadn’t been paid all of the money owed. Continental also made a claim for quantum meruit, claiming the government accepted the benefits it provided, despite the opportunity to decline them, and that Continental had not been paid. It also argued it was denied due process because Daniels refused to respond to an appeal by Continental even though the main contract between Larson and the government provided a remedy and appeals process.

The trial court ruled Continental was allowed to recover under its unjust enrichment claim, that the state was in breach of contract by refusing to participate in the administrative appeal, and it awarded Continental nearly $207,000 plus costs.

The Court of Appeals found there was no contract between the state and Continental, so the lower court erroneously ruled the state breached a contract between the two. Any remedy Continental sought had to be against Larson as general contractor.

The judges also found there was no showing the state unjustly retained a benefit without paying for it. Despite what Continental claimed, there was no confusion in the main contract about what was or was not to be included in the agreement regarding the generator.

 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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