Ingle v. Kuszmaul, 2005-UP-393

CourtCourt of Appeals of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM
PartiesJohn Ingle, d/b/a Ingle & Company, Respondent, v. Ken Kuszmaul, Environmental Specialties, Inc., Indiana Lumbermen's Mutual Insurance Co., Spartanburg Sanitary Sewer District, Spartanburg Water System and Spartanburg Metropolitan District, Defendants, Of whom Ken Kuszmaul and Environmental Specialties, Inc., are, Appellants.
Docket Number2005-UP-393
Decision Date15 June 2005

John Ingle, d/b/a Ingle & Company, Respondent,
v.

Ken Kuszmaul, Environmental Specialties, Inc., Indiana Lumbermen's Mutual Insurance Co., Spartanburg Sanitary Sewer District, Spartanburg Water System and Spartanburg Metropolitan District, Defendants,

Of whom Ken Kuszmaul and Environmental Specialties, Inc., are, Appellants.

No. 2005-UP-393

Court of Appeals of South Carolina

June 15, 2005


THIS OPINION HAS NO PRECEDENTIAL VALUE. IT SHOULD NOT BE CITED OR RELIED ON AS PRECEDENT IN ANY PROCEEDING EXCEPT AS PROVIDED BY RULE 239(D)(2), SCACR.

Submitted May 1, 2005

Appeal From Spartanburg County Larry R. Patterson, Circuit Court Judge

Adam Fisher, Jr., of Greenville, for Appellants.

Charles Preston Edwards, of Spartanburg, for Respondent.

PER CURIAM

John Ingle sued Environmental Specialties, Inc. (ESI) and Ken Kuszmaul alleging breach of contract. After a bench trial, the trial court awarded Ingle $56, 471 on the contract and $16, 805.76 in attorney's fees and costs. ESI and Kuszmaul appeal. We affirm in part and reverse in part. [1]

FACTS

ESI contracted to build a project for Spartanburg Sanitary Sewer District. This contract required ESI to obtain a payment bond. ESI obtained the bond from Indiana Lumbermen's Mutual Insurance Co.

Kuszmaul, on behalf of ESI, contacted John Ingle about performing subcontract work on the project. Ingle and ESI entered into an oral agreement under which Ingle agreed to construct a pre-engineered building, including laying the foundation and installing yard pipe to the building.

ESI, Kuszmaul, and Ingle later disagreed on the amount ESI contracted to pay Ingle for his work. Ingle filed a mechanic's lien on the sewer district's property seeking payment of $56, 471 plus costs and attorney's fees. Ingle then filed a complaint and lis pendens seeking to foreclose on the mechanic's lien or, in the alternative, seeking payment pursuant to the payment bond. The trial court issued a consent order pursuant to the parties' agreement to dismiss the mechanic's lien and lis pendens, in exchange for the sewer district's deposit of approximately $75, 000 into escrow pending resolution of the parties' dispute.

Ingle filed an amended complaint against Kuszmaul, ESI, and Lumbermen's alleging ESI owed him $56, 471 for work performed. Ingle also sought incidental and consequential damages and attorney's fees and costs.

ESI, Kuszmaul, and Lumbermen's answered Ingle's complaint, denying all material allegations and asserting counterclaims including: (1) breach of contract; (2) breach of warranty; (3) negligence; and (4) quantum meruit. Kuszmaul and ESI claimed Ingle's work contained numerous defects, and was not performed in a timely manner. Kuszmaul and ESI alleged they suffered actual, consequential, and special damages because Ingle's performance damaged their relationship with the sewer district. In addition, Kuszmaul and ESI claimed damages as a result of performing or hiring other subcontractors to perform work Ingle did not complete. Kuszmaul and ESI also alleged that due to the absence of a statutory or contractual provision permitting the award of attorney's fees, Ingle was not entitled to fees.

The trial court found the parties entered into a contract entitling Ingle to receive $72, 000 for his services. The court thus awarded Ingle $56, 471, the unpaid balance due under the contract, [2] and $16, 805.76 in attorney's fees and costs. In addition, the trial court found for Ingle on all counterclaims and set-offs.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

An action for breach of contract is an action at law. Sherman v. W & B Enters., Inc., 357 S.C. 243, 247, 592 S.E.2d 307, 309 (Ct. App. 2003). In an action at law, tried without a jury, our jurisdiction extends only to the correction of errors of law. Kemp v. Rawlings, 358 S.C. 28, 34, 594 S.E.2d 845, 848 (2004). Therefore, we will not disturb the trial court's findings of fact unless they are wholly unsupported by the evidence. Id.

LAW/ANALYSIS

I. Breach of Contract

ESI and Kuszmaul (hereinafter referred to collectively as ESI) argue the trial court erred in finding Ingle did not breach the contract and in finding ESI breached the contract. ESI asserts the parties agreed to a contract price of $47, 000, rather than $72, 000, and ESI did not breach the contract by failing to pay Ingle the additional $56, 471. In addition, ESI claims Ingle failed to perform under the terms of the contract. We disagree.

We find evidence...

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