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Raiche v. Scott

Supreme Court of Rhode Island

October 31, 2014

Timothy Raiche d/b/a T. Raiche Builders
v.
Timothy W. Scott et al

Washington County Superior Court. (WC 05-336). Associate Justice Jeffrey A. Lanphear.

For Plaintiff: Michael P. Lynch, Esq.

For Defendants: Michael J. Jacobs, Esq.

Present: Suttell, C.J., Goldberg, Flaherty, Robinson, and Indeglia, JJ.

OPINION

Page 1245

Goldberg, Justice

These cases came before the Supreme Court on October 2, 2014, pursuant to an order directing the parties to appear and show cause why the issues raised in these appeals should not be summarily decided.[1] After a bench trial, a justice of the Superior Court declared that the defendants, Timothy W. and Pamela J. Scott (defendants), owed the plaintiff, Timothy Raiche (plaintiff) d/b/a T. Raiche Builders, $5,455.50 in damages and further found that the defendants were responsible for prejudgment interest on the amount of an offer of judgment that had been deposited in the Registry of the Superior Court, in accordance with Rule 68(b)(3) of the Superior Court Rules of Civil Procedure. The defendants timely appealed the trial justice's decision to award prejudgment interest on the amount of the offer of judgment. The plaintiff cross-appealed the trial justice's damages award. For the following reasons, we are of the opinion that cause has not been shown and, thus, deny and dismiss the appeals of both parties and affirm the judgment.

Facts and Travel

The defendants own a home located on Solar Drive in Westerly, Rhode Island. In

Page 1246

2003, they decided to expand and remodel the dwelling. After obtaining a design plan, defendants met with several builders, including plaintiff. On November 20, 2003, defendants entered into a written agreement with plaintiff, in which plaintiff agreed to complete the construction work on defendants' home for $240,000. Construction commenced in January 2004.

During the course of the project, defendants requested certain design changes. For example, it became necessary to install a load-bearing beam, which resulted in additional changes to the kitchen plan. The defendants also requested outside stone work and a redesign of the kitchen's plumbing. Additionally, defendants selected a new lighting plan, which required additional electrical work. Although plaintiff instructed the appropriate subcontractors to implement the changes, the written agreement between plaintiff and defendants mandated that any changes that involved extra costs could only be executed by written orders and any such change order had to include payment terms.[2] No written change orders were executed between the parties.

After nine months of construction, the project was completed. In November 2004, plaintiff submitted an invoice to defendants, indicating a total of $318,242.80 in charges. The defendants' previous payment of $189,500 was credited, leaving a balance of $128,742.80. The plaintiff acknowledged that this amount should have been reduced by $2,540--a cost listed inadvertently--and reduced the bill accordingly. Payment was not forthcoming.

On June 2, 2005, plaintiff filed suit asserting that defendants breached the contract and were unjustly enriched in failing to pay the remaining balance. On October 2, 2008, defendants presented an offer of judgment to plaintiff in ...


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