December 27, 2007

Trial court believes construction company's testimony over homeowner; Reasonable opportunity to cure violated by prohibiting contractor from entering

DAVID LAVY d/b/a DL CONSTRUCTION v. JOAN CARROLL (Tenn.Ct.App. December 27, 2007).

This is a home construction case in which the homeowner appeals the trial court's decision finding her liable to the contractor for the amount remaining due under their original agreement as well as for subsequently authorized modifications. The homeowner contended below that the contractor's work was defective, but the trial court ruled that she was required to have given the contractor notice of any defects in his work and then afforded him a reasonable opportunity to cure these alleged deficiencies. On appeal, the homeowner argues that the trial court erred both in finding that she had not done this and in holding that these actions were required of her as a matter of law. We affirm.

Opinion may be found at:

"Mr. Lavy testified that he was prohibited from ever returning to Ms. Carroll’s property after the incident on January 22, 2005. Testimony from Mr. Underhill corroborated Mr. Lavy’s account of these events. Thus, there was certainly evidence from which the trial court could have concluded that Mr. Lavy had not been provided a reasonable opportunity to cure. Put simply, the trial court believed Messrs. Lavy and Underhill rather than Ms. Waite. Because the evidence does not preponderate against the trial court’s findings, see Tenn. R. App. P. 13(d), we conclude that Ms. Carroll’s argument here is without merit." Id

"The trial court did not find that Mr. Lavy had been previously notified of any problems with his work, nor did it find that Mr. Lavy had ever refused to address any issues that had been brought to his attention. It did find, however, that, soon after he made his request for final payment, Ms. Carroll’s agents prohibited him from reentering the property. While Ms. Carroll contends that Mr. Lavy’s requesting payment and making filings with the Register of Deeds relieved her of the obligations imposed by McClain and Carter, she has failed to cite any law which would support this proposition. Likewise, the Court is unaware of any such authority. Filings under the lien law would have no effect on her duty to first give the contractor notice of the claimed defects and then allow him a reasonable opportunity to cure." Id