Poca couple blames contractor for host of problems

By Chris Dickerson | Oct 4, 2006

WINFIELD – A Poca couple blames the owner of a construction company after a host of problems that resulted from contracting him to build an addition to their home.

Douglas and Rebecca Spaulding filed their lawsuit against Jennings W. Briles Jr. on Sept. 19 in Putnam Circuit Court.

According to their complaint, the Spauldings contacted Briles, who owns Briles Construction, about building the addition. They told him the work had to be done by the end of May or early June because they had a number of family members coming to their home in early July.

Briles promised the work would be done by then, according to the complaint, and the contract cost would not exceed $85,000. Work began on March 20 and was to be finished in 60 days, and changes resulted in the contract price being dropped to $60,570.07. The Spauldings, the complaint says, paid $68,000 to Briles.

Then, in July, Douglas Spauldling complained to Briles about the delay in the work being completed and questioned him about getting bricks for the exterior and for the fireplace and stone for the fireplace. He then contacted Rhodes Brick & Block, which told him the bricks had been ready but it had not received payment.

According to the complaint, Briles said he would personally pay for bricks with personal funds. He also promised he would reimburse the Spauldings for the amount of their overpayment toward the contract price.

Later in July, Spaulding says he was contacted by a heating and cooling subcontractor who said he had not been paid for work he performed. Also that month, Spaulding says he was contacted by bricklayer Daniel Watson who also said he had not been paid for work he performed.

"Watson threatened the Spauldings that he would destroy the Spauldings' home by having his workers use sledgehammers to bust out the walls of the Spaudlings' home and destroy the work that had been done and remove the bricks that had been laid," the complaint states. It also says Watson threatened to file liens against the home.

Also that month, the plaintiffs say a heated exchange took place on their lawn between Watson and Briles.

"Mr. Briles alleged that Mr. Watson overcharged for the work he did, some of which he was authorized to do and some of which was of improper workmanship," the complaint states. "Following that exchange, Mr. Briles informed Mr. Spaulding that everything had been resolved and that Mr. Watson agreed to accept $4,500."

Then, still in July, Briles told the Spauldings he had no money left and could not finish the job. Briles said if Spaulding would pay for brick and stone, he would personally reimburse him because "he had some money that would be coming in soon and that he would see to it that Mr. Spaulding would be the first person to get paid."

So, on July 26, Douglas Spaulding paid $2,272.88 to Ranson Stone & Masonry Supply for stone. Two days later, he paid $3,183.99 to Rhodes Brick & Block Co. for brick.

Then, on Aug. 30, the Spauldings received notice of a mechanics lien from Watson filed Aug. 21 alleging he was owed $6,500 for labor on their home.

In September, the couple received a letter from Peerless Block & Brick advising that Briles' company owed $4,814.91 and that it might file mechanics lien as well.

The Spauldings say they have suffered significant damages including payments in excess of contract price, unreimbursed payments for work and materials, damages relating to their home, costs to repair their home by another contractor, significant annoyance and inconvenience, mental anguish, emotional distress and other out-of-pocket expenses and damages.

The accuse Briles of fraud and misrepresentation, detrimental reliance/promissory estoppel and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

They seek direct, indirect, incidental and consequential damages, punitive damages, attorney fees, court costs and other relief.

Attorney M. Edward Cunningham II is representing the Spauldings, and the case has been assigned to Circuit Judge O.C. "Hobby" Spauldling.

Putnam Circuit Court case number: 06-C-312

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