names ("DOJ SFO" and "GSA Meetings") than the work on the initial GSA submission.
Baranes testified, moreover, that he told Peebles after December 1 and after GSA expressed interest in the building (thus necessarily after the "initial submittal" of December 5) that "there was going to be protracted negotiation/discussion" with GSA and that "we are going to go on an hourly basis." Baranes testified that Peebles said "Fine, just bill me." Peebles did not deny making this statement, but only stated that he was "surprised" to see how much the work cost when he finally got around to reviewing SBA's monthly invoices. (Peebles assertion that he did not see the invoices is no defense to plaintiff's claim, nor, indeed, is it consistent with Peebles' effort to avoid individual liability for SBA's fees.)
In sum, the evidence establishes that either an express contract or a contract implied-in-fact, see Brown v. Brown, 524 A.2d 1184, 1190 (D.C. 1987), existed between SBA and the limited partnership concerning the GSA work. That contract required the partnership to pay SBA for services rendered at SBA's customary hourly rates. Because there is no dispute that the work was performed, nor any contention that SBA's hourly rates were unreasonable, SBA is entitled to the amounts it invoiced Peebles for the work, summarized in its April 6, 1995 bill.
3. Prejudgment interest
SBA is entitled to an award of prejudgment interest as an element of its damages, see D.C. Code § 15-109, for its Phase One and "GSA initial submittal" work for which fees were agreed in advance. Interest is thus to be computed beginning February 11, 1995 on all amounts invoiced on or before January 11, 1995. The rate of interest shall be the prime rate in effect on the date interest begins to accrue. See Forman v. Korean Airlines Co., Ltd, 84 F.3d 446, 450 (D.C. Cir. 1996).
Both of SBA's notices of mechanic's lien are defective and unenforceable. The May 26, 1995 notice is of a subcontractor's lien against defendant R. Donahue Peebles Companies, Inc. That defendant is not indebted to SBA, nor was SBA its, or anyone's, subcontractor. The December 5, 1995 lien names the right defendant but is out of time. See D.C. Code § 38-102 (lien must be filed within three months of completion of work).
Peebles' unrebutted testimony about SBA's refusal to return as-built plans of 900 F Street owned by the limited partnership establishes conversion of the plans, see Shehyn v. District of Columbia, 392 A.2d 1008 (D.C. 1978), and Baranes' plea of self-help does not excuse the tort. SBA will be directed to return the plans.
Defendants have not, however, proven damages. The traditional standard for calculating damages for conversion is the fair market value of the property at the time of conversion. Bowler v. Joyner, 562 A.2d 1210 (D.C. 1989). Peebles' testimony that the partnership "will incur" expenses "not to exceed $ 20,000" in connection with having new plans made is not evidence of the market value of the plans, and is far too vague to support an award of damages based on the plans' replacement cost.
An appropriate order accompanies this memorandum.
United States District Judge
July 17, 1996
For the reasons set forth in the accompanying memorandum, it is this 17th day of July, 1996, hereby
ORDERED that plaintiff shall have judgment on its breach of contract claim against defendant 900 F Street Corporation in the amount of $ 65,464.97 plus prejudgment interest computed on the principal amount of $ 44,571.60, at the prime rate of interest, from February 11, 1995 until the date judgment is entered. Plaintiff may submit a form of judgment, with information supporting its calculation of interest. It is
FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff return to defendant 900 F Street Corporation forthwith any and all architectural plans in plaintiff's possession that are the property of 900 F Street Associates Limited Partnership. It is
FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff's copyright claim be, and it is hereby, dismissed.
United States District Judge