TOTAL BUILDING MAINTENANCE, INC., v. J & J CONTRACTORS/RAINES BROTHERS, a Joint Venture, J & JCONTRACTORS, IN., RAINES BROTHERS, INC., ST. PAUL FIRE & MARINE INSURANCE COMPANY, and FIDELITY & DEPOSIT CO. OF MARYLAND (Tenn. Ct. Ann. March 13, 2009).
In this action plaintiff sued for money owed under its subcontract with the defendant contractor. The defendants’ contractor denied liability, raised as affirmative defenses, waiver/estoppel, unclean hands and breach of contract, filed a counter-claim alleging that plaintiff failed to complete its work in a timely and proper manner and permitted the roof to be harmed by others during the construction and generally failed to cooperate. Following an evidentiary hearing, the Trial Judge determined that both parties had breached the contract, that plaintiff was guilty of unclean hands, denied both parties any recovery and dismissed the case. On appeal, we affirm.
Opinion may be found at the TBA website:
“As to the damage to the roof, the testimony showed that everyone involved bore some responsibility, which the Trial Court found. The Trial Court relied upon this fact in basically holding that the most equitable resolution in this situation was to leave the parties where they were, because each party had liability and responsibility for the damage, as mistakes were made by both parties.” Id.
"Defendants argue the Trial Court erred in failing to award them any attorney’s fees in this case, because plaintiff was shown to have breached the contract, to have unclean hands, etc. What the Trial Court found, however, was that both parties breached their agreement, and thus concluded that both parties should be left where they are. It appears that, based upon the evidence in this case, this was the most equitable resolution where it was shown that both parties bore responsibility for the problems leading up to the lawsuit, and both parties were technically in breach. The proof showed that the contractor directed the work on the roof to begin too early in construction, and the contractor also bore responsibility for failing to protect the roof.” Id.