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Implied Contracts and Prompt Pay Act, §§ 8-29-1 through 8-29-8, Ala. Code 1975

Autauga Creek Craft House, LLC V. Brust, [Ms. 2180300, May 29, 2020] ___ So.3d ___ (Ala. Civ. App. 2020). The Court of Civil Appeals (Donaldson, J.; Thompson, P.J., and Hanson, J., concur; Moore and Edwards, JJ., concur in the result) affirms in part and reverses in part the judgments entered by the Autauga Circuit Court in a dispute over labor and construction costs and attorney’s fees following a non-jury trial concerning the contractor’s claims of damages. The court affirms the judgment of the Autauga Circuit Court to the extent it awarded damages to the contractor on a theory of quantum meruit arising from an implied contract between the parties. The court notes the elements required for implied contracts:

“‘The basic elements of a contract are an offer and an acceptance, consideration, and mutual assent to the essential terms of the agreement. ‘Hargrove v. Tree of Life Christian Day Care Ctr., 699 So. 2d 1242, 1247 (Ala. 1997). Proof of an implied contract requires the same basic elements as an express contract. Steiger v. Huntsville City Bd. of Educ., 653 So. 2d 975, 978 (Ala. 1995)(explaining that ‘[n]o contract is formed without an offer, an acceptance, consideration, and mutual assent to terms essential to the contract’ (citing Strength v. Alabama Dep’t of Fin., 622 So. 2d 1283, 1289 (Ala. 1993))).”

Ms. **32-33, quoting Stacey v. Peed, 142 So. 3d 529, 531 (Ala. 2013). Because as found by the trial court, the parties had reached an agreement that the contractor would perform services and be compensated for those services, the facts meet the legal requirements for implied contract even though the terms of compensation were not fixed. Ms. *34, citing, inter alia, Evans v. Dominick, Fletcher, Yielding, Acker, Wood & Lloyd, P.A., 494 So. 2d 657, 658 (Ala. Civ. App. 1986). And while the parties may have disagreed about the meaning of the testimony, because it was heard by the trial court ore tenus, the trial court’s “findings on disputed facts are presumed correct and its judgment based on those findings will not be reversed unless the judgment is palpably erroneous or manifestly unjust.” Ms. **34-35, quoting Jewett v. Boihem, 23 So. 3d 658, 660-61 (Ala. 2009).

The court notes “a contract involving work performed by an unlicensed party is unenforceable if the work required a licensed general contractor as defined in § 34-8-1, Ala. Code 1975.” Ms. *36. Since the work at issue involved less than $50,000.00, § 34-8-1(a), Ala. Code 1975, did not require this contractor to be a licensed “general contractor.” Ms. *37, citing Dabbs v. Four Tees, Inc., 36 So. 3d 542, 555 (Ala. Civ. App. 2008).

The court affirms the trial court’s award of 12% interest on the judgment because 1% per month or 12% per annum is mandated by § 8-29-3(d), Ala. Code 1975, a part of the Prompt Pay Act. Ms. **38-39.

Finally, the court reverses the judgment of the trial court which refused to award the contractor attorney’s fees as attorney’s fees are mandated by § 8-29-6 of the Prompt Pay Act upon a finding that an owner has not made payment in compliance with the Act. Because the trial court entered a judgment in favor of the contractor and awarded him damages and interest, § 8-29-6 mandated that he also be awarded attorney’s fees. Ms. **40-42.

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