Moran v. Hubbartt

Decision Date27 September 2005
Docket NumberNo. WD 64419.,WD 64419.
Citation178 S.W.3d 604
PartiesDennis D. MORAN, Respondent, v. Ronald HUBBARTT and Martha Hubbartt, Appellants.
CourtMissouri Supreme Court

Seth D. Shumaker, Kirksville, MO, for appellants.

John J. Benson, Kirksville, MO, for respondent.

Before NEWTON, P.J., LOWENSTEIN and BRECKENRIDGE, JJ.

PATRICIA BRECKENRIDGE, Judge.

Ronald and Martha Hubbartt appeal the trial court's judgment, entered in accordance with the jury's verdict, in favor of Dennis Moran on Mr. Moran's quantum meruit claim for the reasonable value of excavation services that he provided to the Hubbartts and parts and labor for the repair of the Hubbartts' bulldozer. The Hubbartts raise three points on appeal. In their first two points, the Hubbartts assert the trial court erred in denying their motion for a directed verdict at the close of Mr. Moran's evidence and for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict because Mr. Moran (1) failed to present evidence that the charges for the services and parts he provided to the Hubbartts were of reasonable value; and (2) did not present evidence that he made a demand for the reasonable value of the services he provided. In their final point, the Hubbartts contend the trial court erred in not allowing them to present evidence of work they provided to Mr. Moran for which Mr. Moran did not pay. Finding no error, the trial court's judgment is affirmed.

I. Factual and Procedural Background

Mr. Moran is a heavy equipment operator and, since at least the fall of 2000, has owned a Model 4T, 7-D Caterpillar bulldozer (4T bulldozer) with which he does excavating work. The Hubbartts own and operate an excavation business and also own several bulldozers. Sometime in the spring of 2001, Mr. Moran and Mr. Hubbartt discussed Mr. Moran buying a Model D7 17A Caterpillar bulldozer (17A bulldozer) from the Hubbartts. No deal was struck at this time, however.

On July 12, 2001, Mr. Moran agreed to help Mr. Hubbartt with a project on Don Falkiner's property. Specifically, Mr. Moran agreed to run the Hubbartts' 17A bulldozer. When Mr. Moran and Mr. Hubbartt were discussing the project, Mr. Moran told Mr. Hubbartt his hourly rate. Mr. Hubbartt never indicated whether he agreed to pay Mr. Moran an hourly rate but, instead, told Mr. Moran "he didn't want an employee, we could do some trading, or something." While no deal was actually struck, Mr. Moran proceeded to work for Mr. Hubbartt, using the Hubbartts' 17A bulldozer, on the Falkiner job for about 16.5 hours. Thereafter, the Hubbartts also requested that Mr. Moran perform work for some of their other customers. For example, from approximately July 17, 2001, to July 25, 2001, Mr. Moran operated the Hubbartts' 17A bulldozer for sixty-one hours on a project on Eugene Yearn's property. On August 1 and 2, 2001, Mr. Moran worked an additional 9.25 hours operating the Hubbartts' 17A bulldozer on Mr. Faulkiner's property. The Hubbartts billed Mr. Falkiner and Mr Yearn for the hours Mr. Moran worked, at the rate of $65 per hour. Although they collected the amount billed, they never paid Mr. Moran any money for these jobs.

On August 3, 2001, while Mr. Moran was working on his own project of cleaning out a pond for Bob Hamilton, his 4T bulldozer got stuck. Mr. Moran called Mr. Hubbartt for help. Mr. Hubbartt brought his 17A bulldozer to the project worksite and used it to pull Mr. Moran's bulldozer out. Mr. Hubbartt left his 17A bulldozer at the worksite for Mr. Moran to use to finish the project.

Shortly thereafter, Mr. Hubbartt got one of his own bulldozers stuck on a project on Stan Harris's property. This time, Mr. Hubbartt asked Mr. Moran for help. Mr. Moran agreed, and he and Mr. Hubbartt hauled the Hubbartts' 17A bulldozer to Mr. Harris's property and pulled the Hubbartts' bulldozer out. At some later point in time, the Hubbartts brought their 17A bulldozer to Mr. Moran's property for Mr. Moran to use to dig his own pond. After the Hubbartts delivered the 17A bulldozer to Mr. Moran's house, Mr. Moran changed the 17A bulldozer's oil and "everything on it." On August 12, 2001, Mr. Moran started building his pond using the Hubbartts' 17A bulldozer. On September 5, 2001, while Mr. Moran was using the 17A bulldozer to dig his pond, the bulldozer's hydraulic system, which controls the lifting and lowering of the front blade, went out. After the hydraulics went out, Mr. Hubbartt stopped by Mr. Moran's house to inspect the bulldozer. While they were inspecting it, Mr. Hubbartt told Mr. Moran that he would "take $6,500.00 for [the 17A bulldozer]." In response, Mr. Moran said that he would "buy it for 6,500" and would pay Mr. Hubbartt when he "got the money from [his] pond."1 During their discussions, Mr. Moran also told Mr. Hubbartt that he planned to convert the bulldozer's hydraulic system to cable.

Before Mr. Moran converted the bulldozer's hydraulic system, Mr. Moran worked on two other projects for the Hubbartts. In particular, from September 25 through 28, 2001, Mr. Moran operated his 4T bulldozer for 24.25 hours and performed another 3.5 hours of survey work for the Hubbartts on Max Snowbarger's property. From September 28 through October 3, 2001, Mr. Moran operated his 4T bulldozer for 33.75 hours, operated one of Mr. Hubbartt's bulldozers for 1.5 hours, and moved equipment for three hours for the Hubbartts on James Schafer's property. Mr. Moran charges $55 an hour for operating his 4T bulldozer and $12.50 an hour doing survey work or moving equipment. The Hubbartts billed Mr. Snowbarger and Mr. Schafer for Mr. Moran's time at those rates and were paid in full, but they never paid Mr. Moran for any of these projects.

About two months after the 17A bulldozer broke down, Mr. Moran completed the conversion of the bulldozer's hydraulic system to cable. Mr. Moran testified that he used parts from his shop to make the conversion, which he valued at $4,047.50. He estimated that he spent 43.5 hours making the conversion, which he valued at $12.50 an hour for a total of $543.75 for labor.2 Thus, the total value of the conversion according to Mr. Moran was $4,591.25.

After making the conversion to cable, Mr. Moran continued to use the 17A bulldozer to finish building his pond, which he eventually completed in December 2001. Mr. Moran never paid any money to the Hubbartts for purchase of the 17A bulldozer. Likewise, the Hubbartts never paid Mr. Moran any money for parts or labor for the conversion of the 17A bulldozer's hydraulic system.

Following the conversion, Mr. Hubbartt asked Mr. Moran what he would charge to operate the 17A bulldozer. Mr. Moran told Mr. Hubbartt that he charged $65 an hour for his services on the 17A bulldozer. Thereafter, Mr. Moran continued to work on additional jobs for the Hubbartts, for which the Hubbartts never paid Mr. Moran. For example, from November 21 through 24, 2001, Mr. Moran operated the 17A bulldozer for twenty-four hours on Marvin Gregory's property. From December 7 through 17, 2001, Mr. Moran operated the 17A bulldozer for the Hubbartts for approximately 41.5 hours on Charles Newcomb's property. Finally, from January 5 through 12, 2002, Mr. Moran operated the 17A bulldozer an additional thirty-one hours on Mr. Gregory's property. For each of these projects, the Hubbartts billed their customers and were paid $65 an hour. The Hubbartts, however, never paid Mr. Moran for any of these projects.

Throughout the spring and summer of 2002, Mr. Moran retained possession of the 17A bulldozer and performed additional work on it. Mr. Moran testified that he used approximately $2625 worth of used parts from his shop, spent $5,283.86 on new parts, and worked 230 hours on the 17A bulldozer, which he valued at $25 an hour. Including the value of his time, Mr. Moran testified that he spent a total of $13,658.86 during this time making repairs on the 17A bulldozer.3

On one night between December 3 and 7, 2002, the Hubbartts went to a job site in Adair County where Mr. Moran was using the 17A bulldozer and took repossession of the bulldozer. On December 11, 2002, by way of letter from his attorney, Mr. Moran demanded the return of the 17A bulldozer. The letter stated that the Hubbartts sold the bulldozer to Mr. Moran for $6500 and they had "actually been paid sums greater than the agreed purchase price, by receiving from customers' [sic] money which was earned by Mr. Moran for excavation work performed, and by converting said money to [their] own use." The letter also indicated that Mr. Moran had made significant improvements to the bulldozer worth approximately $9000 and "expended hundreds of hours of his own labor in making" the repairs and improvements to the bulldozer. The Hubbartts responded to Mr. Moran's letter with a letter from their attorney dated December 18, 2002. In this letter, the Hubbartts asked for documentation to support Mr. Moran's claim that he "purchased or is purchasing the dozer."

On January 22, 2003, Mr. Moran filed a four-count petition against the Hubbartts. In Count I, Mr. Moran sought compensatory and punitive damages for conversion. Count II sought return of the bulldozer based on replevin. Count III sought compensatory damages for breach of contract. Count IV sought "compensatory damages" in quantum meruit. On February 14, 2003, the Hubbartts filed a general denial and asserted no affirmative defenses.

A jury trial was held on Mr. Moran's claims on April 20-21, 2004. During trial, Mr. Moran orally dismissed Counts I and III. At the close of Mr. Moran's case, the Hubbartts moved for a directed verdict on the remaining counts. The trial court granted the Hubbartts' motion as to Count II (replevin) and overruled the motion as to Count IV (quantum meruit). On the quantum meruit claim, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Mr....

To continue reading

Request your trial
13 cases
  • Smith v. Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation, No. WD 65542 (Mo. App. 7/31/2007)
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • July 31, 2007
    ...prevailing party." Id. The jury is the sole judge of witness credibility and the weight and value of testimony. Moran v. Hubbartt, 178 S.W.3d 604, 609 (Mo. App. W.D. 2005). Further, the jury may believe or disbelieve any portion of witness testimony. Id. Review of whether substantial eviden......
  • Smith v. Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp.
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • December 16, 2008
    ...the prevailing party." Id. The jury is the sole judge of witness credibility and the weight and value of testimony. Moran v. Hubbartt, 178 S.W.3d 604, 609 (Mo.App. W.D.2005). Further, the jury may believe or disbelieve any portion of witness testimony. Id. Review of whether substantial evid......
  • Smith v. Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation, No. WD65542 (Mo. App. 9/2/2008)
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • September 2, 2008
    ...prevailing party." Id. The jury is the sole judge of witness credibility and the weight and value of testimony. Moran v. Hubbartt, 178 S.W.3d 604, 609 (Mo. App. W.D. 2005). Further, the jury may believe or disbelieve any portion of witness testimony. Id. Review of whether substantial eviden......
  • Larson v. Isle of Capri Casinos, Inc.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Western District of Missouri
    • December 10, 2018
    ...of a certain and reasonable value, and (3) IOC refused to pay for such services after Plaintiff demanded payment. Moran v. Hubbartt, 178 S.W.3d 604, 609 (Mo. Ct. App. 2005). When responding to IOC's motion, Plaintiff, in a footnote, asked the Court to deny summary judgment on these claims f......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT