01 June 2011

Firm recovers $900,000 in attorneys fees and interest for contractor

As reported in the Daily Camera, Boulder District Court Judge Carol Glowinsky recently granted The Witt Law Firm's motion to award its client Hamon Contractors approximately $900,000 in attorneys fees, costs, and statutory interest stemming from a protracted contract dispute over construction of a road and bridge project for the City of Louisville.  These sums were in addition to $768,000 in damages that a jury had awarded Hamon in 2010.

The case was originally filed by another attorney in 2005.  Shortly thereafter, Judge Glowinsky dismissed Hamon's tort claims seeking damages for fraud and negligence and ordered Hamon to pay substantial attorney fees.  Mr Witt represented Hamon on its appeal and, although the Court affirmed the dismissal orders, it reversed the awards of fees in large part.  In the meantime, Hamon had proceeded on its contract claims.  The parties appeared to reach a settlement in 2008, but the City insisted that it had reserved the right to pursue an additional award of fees.  Mr Witt successfully prosecuted another appeal over this issue, and the case was eventually remanded for an October 2010 trial.

At trial, Mr Witt assisted attorneys Seth Firmender and Sally Berg as they presented Hamon's case.  The jury returned a unanimous verdict finding that the City had acted in bad faith and had breached its contract to pay Hamon for its work.  The jury awarded Hamon all of its requested damages plus $150,000 in lost profits from other jobs.  Following the verdict, Mr Witt asked the Court to award Hamon its attorney fees and costs, plus 8% interest on its damages.  The City argued that the parties' contract did not require payment of fees, that governmental entities are immune from cost awards, and that the contract fixed interest at a minimal rate.  The Court rejected the City's arguments and granted Hamon's motions, bringing the final judgment to roughly $1.6 million.  Shortly thereafter, the City Council approved a settlement to pay the bulk of the judgment rather than pursue an additional appeal.

The Daily Camera reported that Louisville Mayor Chuck Sisk said he was "bitterly disappointed" by the outcome.  Mr Witt stated that he believed the Court ultimately reached the correct result, however.  "This project was difficult for everyone involved.  Thankfully, the judge and jury recognized the extent of damage suffered and awarded Hamon adequate compensation for its losses.  This case illustrates how important it is for owners and contractors to coƶperate and act in good faith on construction projects."