Ego and Spite

Discussion in 'Hardscaping' started by DVS Hardscaper, Nov 4, 2012.

  1. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,623

    I was reminded of this thread on Friday when speaking with a client: (the pool sinking thread)

    We have a swimming pool builder who we work with from time to time. He's an older man, been in the pool business for the last 30+ years, well spoken, intelligent, and very quality consciencious.

    So Friday we're chit chatting in front of the truck and somehow we get on the topic of law suits.

    He tells me that he and his former business partner just recently found out that they are being sued. They built a high end pool and they are being sued, not by the home owner, but by the landscape contractor!

    What happened is that the home owner hired a landscape company to build a negative edge wall that was veneered with stone. Well, the new pool's shotcrete was applied incorrectly, which caused the pool to leak water, which damaged the wall.

    So my buddy (the pool contractor) took full responsibility and instantly started making appropriate corrections. They removed the stone from the wall and cleaned it up. Removed the initial application of shotcrete and installed a new application.

    My buddy (the pool contractor) got a price of $3,600 from their mason that they use to install the stone on the wall. All the hard work was done, the wall just needed the stone put back on.

    The client's landscape contractor that initially build the wall wanted $9000.00. And they did not do a very neat job with the initial go-around.

    So naturally my buddy went with their mason, due to the drastic price difference and due to the fact that they simply were not impressed with the initial job.

    So my buddy has his mason go there to do the work and the mason calls and says "hey the landscaper is here working on the wall". During this time, the owner of the landscaper company (a guy in his early 30's) is calling the pool company saying "we are doing the stone work, the customer wants us to do the stonework, and you're GOING TO PAY US". My buddy says "I'm not the property owner, I can't stop you from doing the work and I never signed a contract with you and I'm not paying you."

    Well - the landscaper completes the wall work. Then hires an attorney. And sues the pool builder, wanting to be paid for a job that the builder NEVER agreed to!!!

    Personally - I just can't believe that this landscaper (from the Annapolis area of Maryland) would even believe that the pool builder would be obligated to pay for work that they NEVER agreed to. And I can't believe this landscaper even found an attorney willing to take the case. This just goes to show that attorneys will say and do anything to make a buck. MD has laws that if you are wrongfully sued - you have the full right to countersue.

    This case is still in the beginning statges. My buddy's attorney just responded to the landscaper's attorney last week. I'm sitting on pins and needles waiting to hear what comes of it.

  2. TX Easymoney

    TX Easymoney LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,109

    lots of scumbags out there--my buddy got sued recently for a non compete even though he was not violating the is all a ploy to put him out of business--
    the two parties used to be great friends, but as often when money is concerned, people get sued...
    my experience is that the lazy party/person at fault often sues to cover up incompetence-

    i should have been an attorney--$350/hr...-
  3. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,623

    This landscape contractor has a website with some pretty impressive work shown. Mostly high end jobs.

    What astonishes me beyond belief is that an established business owner *THINKS* that he can just show up knowingly unwelcome and just do the work - and demand payment - and just name his price - and really truely believe that he is legally entitled to full compensation!

    A few years ago I was in court for a traffic ticket. And they had a few cases ahead of mine. There was an owner of a small radio station suing a lady for an unpaid advertising bill. The lady said "your honor I'm not liable for said bill because I never signed anything agreeing to the services and fees". And the judge replied "I agree. No signed agreement, case dismissed".

    Hey Scagrider I'm coming to your town next week and I WILL be working on your jobs and YOU WILL pay me the price I demand!!!
  4. LWG

    LWG LawnSite Member
    Messages: 88

    That will be an interesting suit. There is no privity of contract between the pool builder and the landscaper. So I don't see a contract action there. Any damages would have been sustained by the property owner.

    Since the landscaper was on the premises, I have to assume that he was there with the owner's permission. I have a tough time thinking of a theory which would allow the landscaper a direct action against the pool builder. Negligence would be out, since there is no duty on the part of the pool builder to the landscaper.

    The only thing I can think of it that the property owner assigned his right to sue to the landscaper to recover the damages which the owner sustained to his property. The pool builder acknowledged responsibility, and undertook to repair the damage, insofar as he could. The owner chose to go with the landscaper, for better or worse. The landscaper gave him a good price in consideration for receiving the owner's right to sue for the full cost of repairing the stone. Just a guess.
  5. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,623

    In MD the courts are HUGE on establishing what they call "meeting of the minds". (I have used this example previously) Say you come to my house and you start mowing the lawn. You have a sign on your back that says "Lawn mowing $30". I step out on the front porch and wave hello. Because I didn't stop you from mowing my grass, and because you had a sign on advertising such - We just established "Meeting of the minds", therefore I would be obligated to pay you.

    Seems in this case - since the homeowner wanted the landscaper to do the work to the wall - the home owner technically established "meeting of the minds".

    I seriously doubt the landscaper had any type of theory in his mindset for payment.

    We all know how big headed we scapers can be. I believe this landscaper wasn't thinking clearly when he sent his crew out to do the work. I mean seriously, what how could any owner of an established business send a crew out to do a job after the contractor had told him "we're not going to use you, we're not accepting your contract, we have made other arrangements"??

    That would be like me showing up to a wedding uninvited and demanding that the wedding party provide me with a free meal and open bar.

  6. LWG

    LWG LawnSite Member
    Messages: 88

    That's pretty standard contract law, and I don't know that Maryland is any different from other states in that regard. In fact, that's the hornbook definition of a contract.

    I think the pool builder will find that there was communication and agreement between the landscaper and owner. If not, I really have to question how attached to reality the landscaper is.
  7. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,623

    I agree. I wasn't implying that MD is different than any other state, I was jus pointin out that that's how the court system views things.

    When I hear this story and stories like this it makes me wonder how a person with such a mentality can live day to day. It makes me wonder how a person like this treats their employees, and his/her spouse/S.O.

    And then the attorney that sent the letter to the pool builder. When I've had issues and contacted my attorney the first words out o his mouth have been "let me take a look at your contract". When the landscaper said "we don't have a contract", now could the attorney justify moving forward? I don't really need an answer to that question, of course we know the answer, as we all know some attorneys are dirty people.
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  8. LWG

    LWG LawnSite Member
    Messages: 88

    Those are usually the same words I say in similar circumstances. However, if the answer is "I have a verbal agreement" my obligation is still to try to enforce their rights. I will certainly tell them how I think the absence of a written agreement will affect their probability of recovery.

    Never underestimate your adversary. As I said earlier, there might be a written, gilt-edged contract -- between the owner and the landscaper. That agreement would allow the 'scaper to sue in the name of, and based upon the damages of the owner. If the 'scaper was really clever, he would have worked this out immediately with the owner as soon as there was evidence of negligence on the part of the pool builder. The 'scaper gets the repair job, the owner gets a reduced price (because his agreement has him paying nowhere near $9,000.00) and the 'scaper gets to sue the pool builder for the market value of his services, which he will testify to as being what his estimate was.

    Perhaps this is too complicated for the amount of money here. If you add three or four zeroes to the amounts, my supposition might be more likely.
  9. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,623

    I hear you loud and clear :)

    But I seriously doubt that is the case. Landscapers are not that smart (only I am - LOL).

    Landscapers are possessive. They get mad if their lawn mowing customer calls another contractor to do the planting.

    I believe the landscaper was proud of his job (which he used the wrong sealer on, and it showed), found out that the pool guys were accepting all responsibility from the get-go, and simply assumed that he would be the one fixing the job. Just like the guy on this forum a few weeks ago. If he's like me, He was looking forward to coming back in the spring and getting pictures for his website. No one likes surprises. We contractors are control freaks. We love to hate pool builders. Things didn't go his way - so he is acting out of spite.
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