Judge grants new trial in breach of contract case against One Stop Construction

David Yates Jun. 23, 2010, 6:33pm

In April, the Southeast Texas Record reported on a bench trial in which a local judge ruled that a Louisiana man failed to prove his breach of contract case against One Stop Construction and Restoration.

Two months later, Judge Milton Shuffield, 136th District Court, granted plaintiff Temple Willett's motion for new trial, officially reinstating the case against the construction company on Tuesday, June 22.

Willett filed suit against One Stop in December 2008, alleging the company terminated him without the three-year notice required under his employment contract.

Willett and One Stop entered into a written employment agreement Jan. 23, 2007, which stated Willett was to be employed as a superintendent and make $800 per week, in addition to a weekly vehicle allowance of $125, court documents show.

On March 31 Judge Shuffield held a bench trial and found in favor of One Stop. During the trial, One Stop attorney John Morgan said the three-year termination notice outlined in Willett's contract was a "typographical error."

Willett, who acted as his own attorney, said he received nothing but praise during his time with One Stop and the company was legally bound to abide by their agreement.

Under the terms of the agreement, Willett was to be paid the wages for the entire employment term, and if either he or One Stop Construction and Restoration wished to terminate the agreement, they would be required to submit a three-year notice.

After the trial, Willett hired Port Arthur attorney Peter Doyle Jr., who filed a motion for new trial in April and then a second amended motion on June 1.

"In the case at bar, for whatever reason, neither the plaintiff nor the defendant chose to introduce the contract itself in to evidence before the court," Doyle wrote in the motion for new trial. "The plaintiff did not primarily because of a lack of knowledge ... while the defendant did not assumingly because of some tactical reason."

During the June hearing, Doyle successfully argued that if the actual contract were previously introduced, "it would have undoubtedly had a major impact on proceedings."

Willett is suing for an award of lost wages and the contractually agreed upon interest.

Case No. D182-752

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