CATHERINE SMITH BOWLING, ET AL. V. TODD JONES, ET AL. (Tenn.Ct.App. May 16, 2008).
Plaintiff homeowners sued defendant residential building contractors for breach of a home construction contract upon allegations of defective workmanship and abandonment of contract. The trial court entered judgment in favor of plaintiffs and awarded actual damages in an amount based upon the finding that the house was of no value. The trial court also awarded damages under the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act upon a finding that the defendants violated the Act by willfully and knowingly misrepresenting that they were bonded. Upon appeal, we find no error in the judgment of the trial court, and accordingly, the judgment is affirmed in all respects.
Opinion may be found at:
IMPLIED WARRANTY TO BUILD NEW HOME IN A WORKMANLIKE MANNER:
"A contract to construct an entire building is essentially a contract for material and labor, and includes an implied warranty protecting the owner from defective construction. Once a builder undertakes a construction contract, the common law imposes upon him or her a duty to perform the work in a workmanlike manner, and there is an implied agreement that the building or work performed will be sufficient for the particular purpose desired or to accomplish a certain result. Thus, a failure to perform a building contract in a workmanlike manner constitutes a breach of the contract." Id. (citing 13 AM. JUR. 2d Building and Construction Contracts §10 (2000)).
ABANDONMENT = BREACH OF CONTRACT; CONTRACTOR BREACHES BY REFUSING TO PERFORM WORK; OWNER BREACHES BY REFUSING TO PAY:
"The abandonment of a contract gives rise to a cause of action for breach.  In the instant matter, each party contends that the other abandoned the contract; the Andersons argue that the Jones brothers simply left the job and quit performing their duties under the contract, while the Jones brothers argue that the only reasons they did not complete their contractual duties were that the Andersons abandoned the contract first, by failing to continue to pay draws and purchase building materials and later, by firing them." Id. (citation omitted).
DELEGATION TO INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS DOES NOT ABSOLVE A CONTRACTOR OF ITS DUTIES TO THE HOMEOWNER:
"[T]he Jones brothers [contend that the subcontractors were independent contractors] and therefore [they] were not ordinarily liable for the negligence of an independent contractor.” ... We find no merit in this argument. The Jones brothers had a contractual duty to construct the house to completion and to perform the construction in a workmanlike manner. Their unilateral delegation of work to third parties did not absolve them of this duty." Id.
NEW HOME CONSTRUCTION WITH SEVER STRUCTURAL DEFECTS IS HELD TO HAVE ZERO VALUE (i.e., $0):
"It is well settled that an owner of property is competent to testify to the value of such property.  Given the above referenced testimony of the owners and other evidence confirming the house’s structural instability, we believe the trial court’s determination that the house is of zero value is well supported, and we do not find that the evidence preponderates otherwise." Id. (citation omitted).
CONTRACTOR VIOLATED TCPA BY FALSELY REPRESENTING THAT THEY ARE BONDED; IF CONTRACTOR'S BUSINESS CARD SAYS "BONDED" AND CONTRACTOR IS NOT, THEY MUST APPRISE THE OWNER:
"The Jones brothers contend that insufficient evidence was presented to support the trial court’s finding that their violation of the TCPA was willful and knowing. They do not deny that they were not bonded, nor do they deny that they misrepresented to the Andersons that they were bonded and that the Andersons relied upon this misrepresentation. However, the Jones brothers insist that such misrepresentation was unintentional and that the record does not show otherwise. We disagree. First, we note Jerry Jones’s own testimony that prior to their employment by the Andersons, he gave Kimberly Anderson the Jones brothers’ business card, a copy of which is in the record before us. Among other things, this card states that the Jones brothers are “Licensed, Insured, and Bonded.”" Id.