COA rules contract with missing elements is still valid

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A Hamilton County man failed to convince the Indiana Court of Appeals that the absence of start and completion dates along with his name rendered his contract with a home improvement company invalid.

Timothy Paul hired Stone Artisans Ltd. to replace the countertops and backsplashes in the bathrooms and kitchen of his home. However, when the time came to pay the remainder of the contract amount of $5,499, he refused, claiming the contract was invalid.

Hamilton Superior Court ruled in favor of Stone Artisans, finding Paul had breached his contract.

Paul appealed and argued, in part, the contract did not include all the essential terms that are required by the Home Improvement Contract Act. Specifically his contract was missing his typed name by the signature line and dates for when his project would begin and end.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s ruling in Timothy W. Paul v. Stone Artisans Ltd., 29A04-1406-PL-258. It also remanded for further calculation of attorney fees and costs.

The unanimous panel reiterated it is hesitant to void a contract for contravening a statute unless the statute dictates unambiguously that such contravention renders the contract void. In the HICA, the General Assembly gave voiding the contract as one possibly remedy among other options.

“We agree with the trial court’s determination that a consideration of the relevant factors point decisively towards enforcing this contract,” Judge John Baker wrote. “Although any violation of HICA is considered a ‘deceptive act,’ Paul was not deceived here. … He contracted for services which were performed to his satisfaction. It was not until it came time to pay for these services that he lodged any complaint.”

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