Judge Frances Jones Pitman
SHREVEPORT – The Louisiana Second Circuit Court of Appeal recently upheld a decision by a trial court regarding a dispute about payment for building and roofing supplies.
The three-judge panel consisting of Judges Shonda D. Stone and Jeff Cox and Presiding Judge Frances Jones Pitman announced the ruling May 23 in the case that began on Feb. 5, 2013, when RSI Building Products LLC (RSI) filed a petition against Advantage Roofing & Construction of Louisiana Inc. (Advantage II) and James E. Strawbridge, individually and as guarantor, alleging that they signed a customer credit application and personal guarantee with RSI, but refused to pay the balance of $36,353.41.
In its petition, RSI requested 18 percent interest, court costs and attorney’s fees.
Advantage II and Strawbridge argued that they signed the credit application, acting on behalf of Advantage I, which is a different company, not on behalf of Advantage II.
A series of filings and petitions followed, and on Feb. 8 and 9, 2017, a two-day bench trial was held in the Third Judicial District Court, Union Parish.
On April 19, 2017, the trial court ruled that the amount claimed by RSI was supported by the documentation presented at trial. It also ruled that Advantage II and/or Strawbridge were liable for service charges of 18 percent per annum, court costs, filing fees and attorney fees as provided for in the credit application
The court noted testimony that the ownership of RSI and its predecessors had remained the same as had the employer identification number throughout all of its name changes. It found that Strawbridge signed the credit application individually and not as president of Advantage I, and, therefore, there was no written agreement with Advantage II to pay 18 percent service charges, court costs, filing fees and attorney’s fees.
As a result, the court found that under the terms of the credit application, Strawbridge should be bound for the open account of Advantage II with the service charges, court costs, filing fees and attorney fees. It also ruled that he is obligated under the doctrine of detrimental reliance. It further found that although Advantage II is not obligated for service charges and attorney fees, Strawbridge is liable for them.
Accordingly, the court determined that Strawbridge is liable to RSI for the amount claimed, $36,353.41, together with all court costs and legal interest from the date of judicial demand until paid in full.
The trial court also found that Advantage II did not provide sufficient evidence to support its claims of damages and rejected all of the claims of its cost.
On June 30, 2017, the trial court filed a judgment in favor of RSI and against Advantage II and Strawbridge, in solido, in the amount of $36,353.41, together with judicial interest, and against Strawbridge for the attorney fees of RSI in the amount of $11,997.62 together with interest of 18 percent per annum. It also rejected the reconventional demand of Advantage II and Strawbridge.
As a result Advantage II and Strawbridge appealed the trial court’s judgment regarding Strawbridge’s personal liability as to the principal demand to the Louisiana Second Circuit Court of Appeal. They did not appeal the trial court’s denial of their reconventional demand.
In conclusion, Judge Pitman of the appeals court said, “For the foregoing reasons, we affirm the judgment of the trial court in favor of plaintiff-appellee RSI Building Products LLC, and against defendants-appellants Advantage Roofing & Construction of Louisiana Inc. and James E. Strawbridge. Costs of appeal are assessed to defendants-appellants Advantage Roofing & Construction of Louisiana Inc. and James E. Strawbridge.”