Murchison & Cumming LLP

Motion for Summary Judgment Granted in Breach of Contract Case

November 23, 2020

A motion for summary judgment was granted in favor of Community Action of Ventura Inc. ("Community Action"), a nonprofit organization assisting low income individuals to weatherize their residences to be more energy efficient. Lisa D. Angelo and Christy Gargalis of Murchison & Cumming, LLP represented the defendant.

In 2015, Community Action assisted homeowners in Oxnard, CA to replace two windows in their home. About six months after the window installation and a heavy rainfall, one of windows leaked and damaged hardwood flooring in the room where the window was installed. Community Action agreed to hire the plaintiff Jose F. Garcia to repair the flooring and walls in the area where the energy efficient window leaked.

After Garcia began work, he and the homeowners agreed to expand the scope of the repairs to include much more than what was identified in the original estimate including new hardwood flooring throughout the home. Both Garcia and the homeowners believed Community Action would pay for the additional work because a non-managerial employee from Community Action occasionally came to the property to check on the progress of the work. About a month after completing the work, Garcia submitted a final invoice to Community Action. Because Community Action had not agreed to pay for any work beyond what was submitted in Garcia's original estimate, Community Action refused to pay Garcia's second invoice. Garcia sued Community Action for (1) Breach of Contract; (2) quantum meruit; (3) work, labor and material; (4) work, labor and services; and, (5) unjust enrichment

After two years of litigation, Community Action filed a motion for summary judgment as to all of Garcia's claims. After a hearing on the motion, the court held that Garcia's breach of contract claim failed because the only viable contract that was entered into by the parties was for limited repairs to the floor by the leaking window and Community Action was not liable for additional costs to which it did not agree. The court further held that because Community Action established that the employee who occasionally visited the home to observe the status of Garcia's work was a non-managerial employee, he lacked actual or ostensible authority to bind Community Action to authorize the expansion of Garcia's work at the property. As to the remaining causes of action, the Court found that because Community Action did not own the subject property, it did not obtain any benefit from the additional work Garcia performed at the property.

 

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