Beaumont appellate justices hear arguments on whether MeadWestvaco breached contract

By David Yates | Nov 5, 2015

On Nov. 5 justices seated on the Ninth Court appeals heard oral arguments on whether a multi-national corporation breached its contract with a Southeast Texas small business providing HVAC services.

Way Service Ltd., a family-owned heating, ventilation and air conditioning company located in Vidor, filed suit against MeadWestvaco Corp. in 2011, claiming breach of contract.

Last August, the case was tried in the 58th District Court in Jefferson County. Jurors awarded Way Service more than $334,000 in damages.

On appeal, MeadWestvaco argues it is the party entitled to recover damages because Way Service was the one who breached the contract.

According to court documents, Way Service had a contract with MeadWestvaco at its paper mill in Evadale. Way Service says the mill failed to pay its final five invoices for services it provided.

According to its website, MeadWestvaco is a global packaging company making products used in the food, beverage, tobacco, beauty, healthcare and home markets and provide specialty chemicals to the automotive and energy exploration industries. It has been in business more than 150 years and has 16,000 employees in 30 countries.

Way Service sought $325,00 for breach of contract, but then MeadWestvaco responded with a counter-claim of almost $1 million.

In its counterclaim, MeadWestvaco said it had discovered equipment problems that were the fault of Way Service.

Way denied the allegations, and responded that it had been denied the right to cure the allegedly defective work, claiming the mill owners would not allow Way Service to inspect the equipment and allowed the equipment to be discarded.

MeadWestvaco argued for damages of more than $600,000 and denied any liability under the breach of contract and quantum meruit claims.

However, on Aug. 21, 2014, a jury of eight men and four women deliberated about three-and-a-half hours and delivered a unanimous verdict in favor of Way Service.

Way was awarded $254,196 for outstanding invoices, a termination payment of $8,609, an award of compensable work time valued at $72,071, for a total of $334,876.

Beaumont attorney Jay Old is local counsel for Way Service, along with Lisa M. Norman of Andrews Myers PC in Houston.

MeadWestvaco is represented in part by MehaffyWeber attorney Sandra Clark.

Case No. March 2, 2010014-CV

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