Wed. Jun 16th, 2021

Plaintiff general contractors appealed from a judgment of the Superior Court of Riverside County (California), which found for defendant doctors in plaintiff’s action to foreclose a mechanic ‘s lien and obtain damages for breach of contract. Defendants cross-appealed an order denying their motion to amend their cross-complaint to include an allegation and prayer for attorney fees.

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Overview

In a contract dispute over the construction of a medical building, plaintiffs, the general contractors, brought actions against defendants, five medical doctors, to foreclose a mechanic’s lien and obtain damages for breach of contract. Defendants cross-complained against plaintiffs and their surety on the performance and materialman’s bond. The trial court found for defendants and judgment was entered that plaintiffs take nothing on their complaint. Defendants recovered from plaintiffs and their surety on the cross-complaint. Plaintiffs appealed. Defendants cross-appealed an order denying their motion to amend their cross-complaint to include an allegation and prayer for attorneys’ fees. On plaintiffs’ appeal, the court reversed with directions. On defendants’ cross-appeal, the court affirmed. The court found that the disputed portion of the contract was patently ambiguous and not sufficiently definite and certain to give rise to a legal obligation. Among other things, the agreement for the completion of “standard” or minimal” medical suites was too indefinite and uncertain to evidence a meeting of the minds or to provide an objective basis for assessment of damages.

Outcome

The court reversed the judgment of the trial court with respect to plaintiff general contractors’ appeal, and directed the trial court to make new findings, because the court found that the disputed portion of the contract was patently ambiguous and not sufficiently definite and certain to give rise to a legal obligation. The respect to defendant doctors’ appeal, the court affirmed.

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