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Washington Nationals Stadium, LLC v. Arenas, Parks and Stadium Solutions, Inc.

Court of Appeals of The District of Columbia

September 6, 2018

Washington Nationals Stadium, LLC, et al., Appellants,
v.
Arenas, Parks and Stadium Solutions, Inc., Appellee.

          Argued May 30, 2018

          Appeals from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia (CAR-1938-15) Hon. Neal E. Kravitz, Trial Judge

          James A. Sullivan, with whom William R. Martin and Sasha E. Hodge-Wren were on the brief, for appellants.

          Donald A. Rea, of the bar of the State of Maryland, pro hac vice, by special leave of court, with whom Nicholas C. Stewart was on the brief, for appellee.

          Before Blackburne-Rigsby, Chief Judge, Fisher, Associate Judge, and Ruiz, Senior Judge.

          BLACKBURNE-RIGSBY, CHIEF JUDGE

         The Washington Nationals Stadium, LLC and Washington Nationals Baseball Club, LLC ("appellants") appeal a March 2, 2017, order of judgment and a September 13, 2017, amended order of judgment entered against them after a jury trial before Judge Neal E. Kravitz in favor of Arenas, Parks and Stadium Solutions, Inc. ("appellee").[1] The case involves competing breach of contract claims related to appellee's installation of a decorative floor throughout the Nationals Park ("Park"). Appellants had refused to pay appellee even after most of the work was complete, claiming the floor was too slippery. On appeal, appellants contend that, during trial, the trial court (1) abused its discretion in not allowing them to call two independent fact witnesses to testify to the slippery condition of the floor; (2) erred as a matter of law in denying their motions for judgment on appellee's anticipatory breach claim; and (3) abused its discretion in limiting their claim for attorney's fees solely to those fees associated with the Rust-Oleum mechanic's lien on the Park. We affirm.

         I.

         Appellants entered into a series of contracts with appellee in which appellee agreed to install a decorative floor throughout the Park. The largest of these contracts, the "Prime Contract," was signed on November 11, 2013, and was worth $3, 268, 680, to be paid in six equal annual installments through January 31, 2019. Appellee subcontracted with Majestic Flooring Solutions Corporation ("Majestic") to provide labor and Rust-Oleum to provide supplies.

         Prior to completion of the project, the relationship between appellants and appellee deteriorated. The triggering event seems to have been when appellee failed to timely pay Rust-Oleum, and in response Rust-Oleum filed a mechanic's lien against the Park in early May of 2014. Shortly thereafter, appellants terminated contact with appellee and refused to give them access to the Park to complete the rest of the work. Appellants justified their actions by claiming that appellee breached the Prime Contract first by installing a defectively slippery floor.[2] At the same time, appellants began separately and secretly negotiating with Rust-Oleum, appellee's materials subcontractor, for a recoat of the floor and release of the mechanic's lien. On September 12, 2014, Majestic also filed a mechanic's lien against the Park for $532, 262.64 as Majestic had not been timely paid by appellee.

         On December 29, 2014, appellee filed a mechanic's lien for $2, 786, 385, the amount that appellee alleged was owed under the Prime Contract. Appellants refused to make any of the installment payments that were due on January 31 in 2015, 2016, and 2017.

         In May of 2015, appellee and appellants both filed breach of contract claims against the other in D.C. Superior Court.[3] Trial began on February 13, 2017, and concluded on February 28, 2017. At trial, appellee argued that appellants had breached the Prime Contract by not permitting it to finish the contract and by failing to pay the remaining balance owed under the contracts. Appellants argued that appellee breached the Prime Contract by installing a defective floor[4] and in failing to honor its contractual obligations with Rust-Oleum, which resulted in a mechanic's lien on the Park. Appellants further argued that they could not breach the Prime Contract for those installment payments which were not yet due, and moved for partial judgment as a matter of law under Super. Ct. Civ. R. 50, which the trial court denied.

         The jury found that appellants breached the Prime Contract and that appellee was entitled to $1, 991, 584.40, which represented the amount remaining on the Prime Contract after deducting a ...


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