Chris Adams of Collins & Lacy represented Lucas Custom Builders in this defense verdict. Here is the original article, written by David Donovan, as it was published in South Carolina Lawyers Weekly on May 24, 2013.
Two West Columbia homeowners looking for an extreme makeover will collect no damages from the contractors that renovated their home after jurors returned a verdict for the defense on all counts.
Jolene and Larry Marchant hired Lucas Custom Builders to renovate their 35-year-old home and add an extension. Their contract called for the addition to receive modern-style tongue-and-groove subflooring, and the existing home would keep the particle board subflooring installed by the original builders. About a year after they moved in, the Marchants alleged that the subflooring in the rest of the house was inadequate and sued Lucas for fraud, breach of contract and negligent misrepresentation, arguing that the entire house should have gotten new subflooring.
Lucas argued that the flooring met acceptable standards and that putting in new subflooring was not part of the original contract and would have been a much more expensive task that could have required ripping out walls.
The Marchants hired a team of experts to inspect the house who produced an estimate of $340,000 for the necessary repairs. After adding consequential damages for things like loss of use, they submitted a request for $410,000 to the jury. After a week-long trial and three hours of deliberation, the jury agreed with Lucas that the contract did not require the company to install new subflooring throughout the whole house and ruled for the defense.
Chris Adams of Collins & Lacy in Columbia represented the builders. Brian Robinson of Bruner Powell in Columbia represented the homeowners.
Adams said that the Marchants’ own flooring expert admitted on cross-examination that the floors in the house had no damage and all met industry standards. He said that the Marchants had hired the experts to look over the house without clarifying what work was done by the renovators and what work was existing construction.
“I think we did a really good job of cross-examining their witnesses and attacking their credibility,” Adams said. “It didn’t make sense, but for whatever reason that was her line in the sand she wanted to draw, and she would not be happy until she got all this particle board ripped out.”
VERDICT REPORT: FRAUD
Case name: Marchant v. Lucas Custom Builders
Case number: 09-CP-32-03112
Court name: Lexington County Court of Common Pleas
Judge: William Paul Keesley
Date of verdict: March 22
Highest offer: $75,000
Attorney for defendant: Chris Adams, Collins & Lacy (Columbia)
Attorney for plaintiff: Brian Robinson, Bruner Powell (Columbia)
Follow David Donovan on Twitter @SCLWDonovan