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01/19/22   |   By

D.C. Court of Appeals Reinforces Consumer Protection Act in Breach of Contract Case

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Court Upholds Judgement Requiring Contractor to Make Full Repayment to Homeowners

The District of Columbia Court of Appeals recently reinforced a lower court’s judgment in a consumer protection case against a general contractor.

According to court documents, Karen and Chris Evans, represented by Regan Zambri Long PLLC Senior Partner Victor E. Long, hired C.A. Harrison Companies, LLC in February 2014 to oversee the total renovation on their newly purchased home. When the general contractor the Evanses had hired quit, C.A. Harrison made the decision to take over the role without consulting the homeowners. After several months and hundreds of thousands of dollars spent, the Evanses learned what had happened and terminated their contract with C.A. Harrison.

In response, C.A. Harrison filed a complaint in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia for breach of contract. The Evanses counterclaimed, arguing they had no enforceable contract with the company because it was not licensed to perform as a home improvement contractor. The Superior Court agreed with the Evanses and ordered C.A. Harrison to pay for damages. C.A. Harrison appealed the decision, arguing that the home improvement regulations did not apply because it was not a home improvement contractor.

The Court of Appeals disagreed with C.A. Harrison’s argument. “CAH assumed the role of general contractor and took on the responsibility of delivering the contracted-for renovations to the Evanses,” the judgment states. “It therefore had a ‘home improvement contract’ with the Evanses, and because it was not licensed as a home improvement contractor, its acceptance of progress payments ‘in advance of all work required to be performed’ violated 16 D.C.M.R. §800.1.”

According to Evanses attorney, Regan Zambri Long Senior Partner Victor E. Long, the judgment reinforces the broad reach of the D.C. Consumer Protection Act. “The Court made clear that the Act applies to contractors based upon the work performed, rather than the terms of the contract,” Long said. “In doing so, the Plaintiffs recovered the entire amount paid to an unlicensed developer for a substandard, complete home renovation.”

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