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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court decides contracts dispute

In Ronald D. Liggett, d/b/a Liggett Construction Co. v. Dean and Elisabeth Young, a 12-page opinion, Justice Dickson writes:

The plaintiff, Ronald Liggett, d/b/a Liggett Construction Company, brings this appeal to challenge a trial court summary judgment ruling in a contract dispute arising from Liggett's con-struction of a private residence for his attorney, defendant Dean Young, and Young's wife, Elisa-beth. To address whether the parties' attorney-client relationship affects the resolution of this dispute, we granted transfer, and now reverse the trial court. * * *

Having previously granted transfer, thereby automatically vacating the opinion of the Court of Appeals, Ind. Appellate Rule 58(A), we now reverse both (a) the trial court's final judgment in favor of the Youngs and against Liggett as to all of Liggett's claims against the Youngs and (b) the grant of the Youngs' motion for partial summary judgment as to Liggett's claims. This cause is remanded to the trial court for resolution of the remaining claims of each party in a manner consistent with this opinion.

Shepard, C.J., and Sullivan and Rucker, JJ., concur.
Boehm, J., concurs in result with separate opinion. [that begins] The dispositive issue in this appeal is whether the contract provision bars Liggett’s claim to be compensated for unwritten change orders. I agree with the majority that summary judg-ment in favor of the Youngs must be reversed, and this case should be remanded for trial.

I think that despite its odd procedural posture, this case boils down to some familiar and relatively simple points. At a time when Dean Young was acting as Liggett’s attorney, the Youngs contracted for Liggett to build their home. Liggett had no separate attorney. Liggett claims that the parties agreed to oral change orders and that a variety of change orders added substantially to the cost of the project. He seeks compensation for those. The Youngs respond to Liggett’s claims by invoking the provision in their written contract that prohibited unwritten change orders.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on December 4, 2007 12:58 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions