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Lakeside Electric, Inc. v. Ulbe, LLC

Superior Court of Rhode Island

August 28, 2014

LAKESIDE ELECTRIC, INC.
v.
ULBE, LLC and RAYMOND ELECTRIC CORPORATION

Washington County Superior Court

For Plaintiff Jessica L. Papazian-Ross, Esq.

For Defendant: Sean T. O'Leary, Esq., Angelo R. Simone, Esq.

DECISION

K. RODGERS, J.

This matter arises from an oral agreement to furnish labor and materials for a renovation project in the Town of New Shoreham (Block Island) in Rhode Island. Before this Court is Plaintiff Lakeside Electric, Inc.'s (Plaintiff or Lakeside Electric) Motion for Summary Judgment pursuant to Super. R. Civ. P. 56. Plaintiff asserts it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law on Counts I through IV of its Complaint seeking enforcement of a mechanic's lien, damages for breach of contract and unjust enrichment, and attorneys' fees relative to electrical work Lakeside Electric performed on a time and materials basis at the Surf Hotel on Block Island. After a hearing thereon and upon consideration of the parties' memoranda, this Court will now render a Decision.

I Facts and Travel

Defendant ULBE, LLC (ULBE), owner of the Surf Hotel, hired Co-Defendant Raymond Electric Corporation (Raymond Electric) to perform renovations at the Surf Hotel located at 32 Dodge Street on Block Island. Compl. at ¶ 4. Raymond Electric, in turn, hired Lakeside Electric as a subcontractor to perform electrical work on a time and material basis pursuant to a verbal agreement between Lakeside Electric's president, Donald R. Antaya (Antaya), and Raymond Electric's president, Raymond G. Pellegrino (Pellegrino). Id. at ¶ 5. The agreed-upon hourly rate for Lakeside Electric's work was $70.00 for up to fifty hours a week, and $105.00 for any hours worked over fifty. Pl.'s Ex. A at ¶ 4 (Antaya Aff.). The parties also agreed to a material markup of 30%. Id. As is customary for work on Block Island, transportation costs, lodging and meals were included as part of the subcontract. Id.

Lakeside Electric commenced its work in April 2013, see Antaya Aff., Ex. 1, at 1, and last performed services at the Surf Hotel on June 26, 2013. Id., Ex. 1, at 6. As attested to by Block Island's building official, Marc A. Tillson (Tillson), Raymond Electric secured the necessary electric permit from Block Island on May 16, 2013. Pl.'s Ex. B at ¶ 4 (Tillson Aff.) and attached unnumbered exhibit, at 1. All the electrical work performed by Lakeside Electric was inspected by Tillson and was deemed to be in compliance with both the electric permit issued and the Rhode Island State Electrical Code. Tillson Aff. at ¶ 4.

Lakeside Electric was eventually paid for invoices submitted in April and May of 2013, up through Invoice No. 822 dated May 7, 2013. See Antaya Aff., Ex. 1, at 1. However, outstanding balances on Invoice Nos. 831, 833 and 834 dated May 26, 2013, June 12, 2013 and July 1, 2013, respectively, have remained unpaid. Id. at ¶ 6 and Ex. 1, at 1. The outstanding balance owed to Lakeside Electric for time and materials furnished to the Surf Hotel is $33, 887.23. Id.

On November 12, 2013, Lakeside Electric filed and recorded its Notice of Intention to Do Work Or Furnish Materials Or Both (Notice of Intention) in the Land Evidence Records of Block Island, indicating therein that within 200 days of the filing of this Notice of Intention it had performed services at the Surf Hotel as reflected in unpaid Invoice Nos. 831, 833 and 834 dated May 26, 2013, June 12, 2013 and July 1, 2013, respectively, and that said invoices reflect the fair and reasonable value of the electrical work performed at the Surf Hotel in May and June 2013. See Pl.'s Ex. C. Lakeside Electric then filed a Notice of Lis Pendens in the Land Evidence Records on December 6, 2013, indicating therein that it has filed or would file a complaint to enforce its mechanic's lien within seven days. Id. On December 9, 2013, Lakeside Electric filed the instant Complaint against ULBE and Raymond Electric. Count I seeks enforcement of a mechanic's lien against ULBE, as the owner of the Surf Hotel, in the amount of $30, 538.83, plus costs and attorneys' fees. Compl., ¶¶ 10-17; see also Pl.'s Mem. in Supp. of Mot. for Summ. J. at 2.[1] Count II of the Complaint is directed against Raymond Electric and seeks damages for breach of the oral contract to pay Lakeside Electric for the electrical work performed on a time and material basis. In the alternative, Count III seeks recovery against Raymond Electric under the quasi-contractual theory of unjust enrichment. Finally, Count IV against Raymond Electric seeks attorneys' fees pursuant to G.L. 1956 § 9-1-45, as Lakeside Electric contends there is no justiciable issue in law or fact regarding the monies owed.

On June 16, 2014, Lakeside Electric filed the instant Motion for Summary Judgment on all counts, designating August 18, 2014, as the hearing date. On August 15, 2014, ULBE filed its untimely objection.[2] Raymond Electric did not object to Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment, but its counsel appeared before the Court on August 18, 2014, for the purpose of objecting to the extent Plaintiff sought final judgment in accordance with Super. R. Civ. P. 54(b).

This Court heard oral argument on August 18, 2014, but reserved judgment in order to review ULBE's objection.[3] Having reviewed Plaintiff and ULBE's submissions, this Court now renders its Decision.

II

Standard of Review

In reviewing a motion for summary judgment, the preliminary question before this Court is whether there is a genuine issue as to any material fact which must be resolved. R.I. Hosp. Trust Nat'l Bank v. Boiteau, 119 R.I. 64, 376 A.2d 323 (1977); O'Connor v. McKanna, 116 R.I. 627, 359 A.2d 350 (1976). If an examination of the pleadings, affidavits, admissions, answers to interrogatories, and other similar matters reveals no such issue and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, then the suit is ripe for summary judgment. Super. R. Civ. P. 56(c); see also Neri v. Ross-Simons, Inc., 897 A.2d 42, 47 (R.I. 2006); Casey v. Town of Portsmouth, 861 A.2d 1032, 1036 (R.I. 2004). In ruling upon a motion for ...


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