Civil litigation is usually a slow burn. But when a national real estate and property management company approached Arnold & Placek just nine days before trial, we prepared for the challenge. And won.
Our client leased a large commercial space in central Austin to an international restauranteur planning an elaborate build-out. When the tenant, who agreed to shoulder all construction costs, ran out of money midway through the project, the contractors sued not only the tenant, but also the landlord, to recover nearly $700,000 in unpaid work.
Since the plaintiff contractors had no contract with the landlord, their theory of recovery was equitable: the landlord had been unjustly enriched, the plaintiffs argued, by benefitting from significant improvements the contractors performed in upgrading the plumbing, electrical, and mechanical systems at the leased premises. Plaintiffs asserted that the landlord should pay for the reasonable value of the services performed that improved the leased premises.
The case sat on the docket for about a year, and attempts to settle proved unsuccessful. Then, on the Monday before a bench trial setting, the landlord reached out to Arnold & Placek. We quickly assembled a team and got to work absorbing the facts and documents, meeting with witnesses, and crafting a winnable legal strategy.
Arnold & Placek partner Matthew Foerster and senior associate Jonathan Chaltain represented the client at trial. After two days of the plaintiff’s case in chief, A&P moved for judgment as a matter of law, showing that equitable relief was not available to the plaintiff contractors under the facts presented.
Senior Judge Jimmy Carroll, former Chief Justice of the Austin Court of Appeals, presided over the trial as a visiting judge. The judge granted our motion and awarded a take-nothing judgment in favor of our client.
The case is Gameta Construction LLC v. NAU F&D Holdings Inc. et al., Cause No. D-1-GN-18-000074, in the 250th Judicial District Court of Travis County, Texas.