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Civil Practice – Judicial Admissions – Contract – Hurricane Damage Remediation

In their answer, defendants admitted that they hired plaintiff, operating under the name PuroClean, to perform mitigation and remediation services on their properties. Defendants admitted that plaintiff performed the work, and that they owed plaintiff compensation for the reasonable value of that work. Defendants are bound to the contents of their pleadings. Such statements are judicial admissions that remove these facts from the realm of dispute.

We affirm summary judgment for plaintiff in the amounts defendants failed to contest.

Defendants further assert that there is a genuine issue of material fact as to whether all the damages plaintiff sought were covered by their insurance policies, and thus, recoverable under the contract. However, this position contradicts prior admissions.

In their pleadings, defendants admitted their refusal to pay was based on the disputed reasonableness of the amount that plaintiff demanded. Defendants later asserted by affidavit that their refusal to pay was based on plaintiff’s failure to demonstrate that services rendered were not covered by insurance. In viewing the material facts as alleged in the complaint and admitted in the answer, the only fact remaining to be litigated was the reasonable value of plaintiff’s restoration and mitigation services.

Even though the parties had an express contract, since there was no agreed upon value of services at the time the parties executed the service authorization agreement, plaintiff was permitted to recover damages based on a claim for quantum meruit.

Defendants contend their own “unverified” discovery responses were not competent evidence as to their assertion of the reasonable value of plaintiff’s services. We disagree.

Plaintiff served interrogatories on defendants, with questions aimed specifically towards ascertaining defendants’ assertion as to the reasonable value of plaintiff’s services. Defendants contested $417.24 of plaintiff’s $31,425.38 in charges for its services performed at one property and $26,612.49 of plaintiff’s $64,278.65 in charges for services performed at another property. Defendants neither retracted this response, nor did they present an alternative amount. The trial court did not err in awarding damages consistent with defendants’ own discovery responses.

Defendants’ attempt to amend their answer came 21 months after they served their answer, more than a year after they served discovery responses, and only after plaintiff filed its motion for summary judgment. A trial court may appropriately deny a motion for leave to amend on the basis of undue delay where a party seeks to amend its pleading after a significant period of time has passed since filing the pleading and where the record or party offers no explanation for the delay. We discern no abuse of discretion in the trial court’s denial of defendants’ motion to amend their answer.


Water Damage Experts of Hillsborough, LLC v. Miller (Lawyers Weekly No. 012-032-23, 11 pp.) (Fred Gore, J.) Appealed from New Hanover County Superior Court (Phyllis Gorham, J.) Chris Haaf for defendants; Conor Regan for plaintiff. N.C. App. Unpub.

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