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Judges rule on breach of contract lawsuit

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The City of Jeffersonville breached its contract with a company hired to maintain its sewer system by not adequately providing written notice before ending the contract.

Environmental Management Corporation filed an action against the City of Jeffersonville and its Sanitary Sewer Board alleging Jeffersonville breached its contract with EMC, violated Indiana’s Open Door Law, and acted in contempt of an agreed entry and order.

Based on the parties’ contract, written notice had to be given to the other party 90 days before terminating the contract, to allow the party to cure its performance. There were issues after EMC began operating the city’s sewer system, and a letter was sent by the city attorney to EMC asking for specific information, but it never detailed that the city would terminate the contract if problems were not rectified within 90 days. That letter, and one sent in August that said the city was terminating the contract, were authorized during an executive session of the sewer board held before the open board meeting. The city took over operations of the plant in December 2008.

EMC filed its suit, in which the judge ruled in favor of EMC, awarded damages to EMC, and ordered the city to pay attorney fees and costs.

In City of Jeffersonville, Indiana and City of Jeffersonville Sanitary Sewer Board v. Environmental Management Corporation, No. 10A01-1005-PL-217, the Court of Appeals agreed that the city did not provide sufficient written notice to EMC 90 days before terminating the contract. The city’s verbal comments at a regular sewer board meeting held prior to the first letter being sent do not count because they were oral and never recorded in the board’s minutes. In addition, the letter didn’t allege inadequate performance as required by the terms of the contract.

The judges reversed summary judgment for EMC regarding its Open Door Law claims, finding EMC waived those claims. EMC had a 30-day time limit to file its complaints, which it did not do. The time period begins when the plaintiff “knew or should have known” about the act or failure to act that had occurred. EMC had representatives attending every sewer board meeting, so it should have known under the principles of common knowledge and experience, that the two letters weren’t authorized at a public meeting, wrote Judge Patricia Riley. The two complaints filed regarding these letters were filed more than 30 days after the point when EMC should have known about a violation.

The trial court based its award of attorney fees in part on the Open Door Law violations, so the judges remanded for the trial court to recalculate those fees as well as only order the city to pay EMC costs related to filing fees and statutory witness fees.

The judges affirmed the finding the city was in contempt of an agreed entry between the parties to not interfere with EMC’s access to the sewer facilities while a preliminary injunction hearing was pending. The appellate court also affirmed the trial court’s decision to reduce EMC’s corporate support expenses from its losses during calculation of EMC’s damages.

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  1. Just an aside, but regardless of the outcome, I 'm proud of Judge William Hughes. He was the original magistrate on the Home place issue. He ruled for Home Place, and was primaried by Brainard for it. Their tool Poindexter failed to unseat Hughes, who won support for his honesty and courage throughout the county, and he was reelected Judge of Hamilton County's Superior Court. You can still stand for something and survive. Thanks, Judge Hughes!

  2. CCHP's real accomplishment is the 2015 law signed by Gov Pence that basically outlaws any annexation that is forced where a 65% majority of landowners in the affected area disagree. Regardless of whether HP wins or loses, the citizens of Indiana will not have another fiasco like this. The law Gov Pence signed is a direct result of this malgovernance.

  3. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  4. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  5. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

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