Court of Appeals of Texas, Fifth District, Dallas
Appeal from the County Court at Law No. 6 Collin County,
Texas Trial Court Cause No. 006-00355-2016
Justices Lang, Fillmore, and Schenck.
M. FILLMORE JUSTICE.
Landscaping, Inc. (KLI) performed extensive landscaping work
in Manjit Kaur-Gardner's backyard. Kaur-Gardner paid KLI
a total of $40, 000 for the work, but refused to pay all of
KLI's charges. KLI sued Kaur-Gardner, asserting claims
for breach of contract, suit on a sworn account, and quantum
meruit. The trial court awarded KLI actual damages of $400
and attorney's fees of $2, 032. The trial court made
findings of fact and conclusions of law that supported
recovery by KLI on its breach of contract claim or,
alternatively, on its quantum meruit claim.
appealed, contending in five issues that (1) the evidence is
legally insufficient to prove the reasonable value of the
benefit she allegedly received or that she either accepted
KLI's services and materials or used and enjoyed them;
and (2) the trial court erred by awarding damages based on
breach of contract on KLI's claim for quantum meruit,
granting a directed verdict on its own initiative without
allowing Kaur-Gardner the opportunity to present her defense,
and making alternative conclusions of law. We affirm the
trial court's judgment.
KLI installed a concrete pad under a fence in
Kaur-Gardner's backyard, she requested a proposal for
extensive landscaping work at her house. Maurice Keane
prepared a proposal for Kaur-Gardner that included
landscaping in the front, side, and back yards of her house.
The proposal segregated the work into different categories
labeled "A" through "M." As "phase
one" of the project, Kaur-Gardner approved work included
in categories E through J of the proposal, which related to
extending and staining the patio in the backyard,
constructing a cedar arbor with an outdoor kitchen, modifying
the irrigation system, and constructing a concrete pad for
Kaur-Gardner's trashcans. KLI charged $32, 426.29 for the
phase one work. Kaur-Gardner gave Keane a check in the amount
of $17, 000, and wrote in the memorandum line of the check
"1/2 down Phase 1."
began performing the work approved by Kaur-Gardner. Before
phase one was completed, Kaur-Gardner approved the work in
categories K through M of the proposal, which related to the
installation of plants and trees in the backyard. The parties
referred to this work as "phase two." KLI charged
$14, 613.75 for the work in phase two. Keane testified
Kaur-Gardner requested additional work that was not included
in the original proposal. Keane referred to this work as a
"change order." According to Keane, the charges for
the additional work were $3, 247.50. Kaur-Gardner, however,
testified she believed the work in the "change
order" was encompassed in the original proposal.
testified that after both phases were completed, he performed
a walk-through with Kaur-Gardner and she was happy with the
work. Kaur-Gardner paid KLI an additional $23, 000, and
requested a few days to allow her family an opportunity to
inspect the work before she paid the remaining balance.
Kaur-Gardner later gave Keane a "check list" of
eight items she believed needed to be corrected. Although KLI
attempted to complete the items, it did not do so to
Kaur-Gardner's satisfaction. Kaur-Gardner refused to
allow KLI to return to her property and hired other
contractors to address the identified issues.
sued Kaur-Gardner, seeking to recover $10, 287.56, the amount
it alleged Kaur-Gardner owed for the work KLI had performed.
Although she admitted KLI performed work for her,
Kaur-Gardner disputed the quality of the work and testified
she believed she owed KLI only $400.
KLI rested its case-in-chief, Kaur-Gardner moved for a
"directed finding" on each of KLI's claims.
Kaur-Gardner argued there was no evidence of either a
contract or the reasonable value of any services or materials
provided by KLI. After KLI "withdrew" its suit on a
sworn account, the trial court stated the parties did not
have a contract and it was taking the quantum meruit claim
under advisement "to make a determination as to
damages." The trial court indicated it was going to take
"some time to sift through to determine reasonableness
based upon the documentation." Kaur-Gardner requested
that she be allowed to file a post-submission brief
"with regard to the fact that the - the contract price
can't be used for quantum meruit, that there has to be
something separate submitted." The trial court indicated
both parties could "present any briefs they care to
provide to this Court." In its post-submission brief,
KLI requested the trial court reconsider its ruling on the
breach of contract claim.
trial court rendered judgment in favor of KLI for $400 in
actual damages and $2, 032 in attorney's fees without
specifying the basis of its ruling. In its written findings
of fact and conclusions of law, the trial court concluded the
parties operated under an express contract, Kaur-Gardner
failed to fully perform under the contract, and KLI suffered
actual damages of $400. In the alternative, the trial court
concluded KLI had proved it was entitled to recover on its
quantum meruit claim.
Verdict" on Quantum Meruit Claim
fourth issue, Kaur-Gardner argues the trial court erred by
sua sponte granting a "directed verdict"
in favor of KLI on its quantum meruit claim at the close of
KLI's case-in-chief. Kaur-Gardner contends the trial
court should have given her an "opportunity to proceed
with her ...