14th Court of Appeals upholds ruling in case filed by man who alleged he was not paid more than $30,000 for work

By Charmaine Little | Oct 12, 2018

HOUSTON – The 14th Court of Appeals affirmed a summary judgment on Oct. 4 in favor of a man who sued a construction company over allegations it didn’t pay him for work he performed.

Charles Heard sued Henry Hendrickson, doing business as H&M Construction, in 2015 over allegations the company failed to pay him for his construction work on his own home. Heard was granted his motion for summary judgment in the 445th District Court in Washington County and the Court of Appeals upheld this ruling.

The Appeals Court looked at two matters Hendrickson raised in his appeal. He first said the trial court accepting the deemed admissions was a violation of due process. He then said Heard didn’t prove his contract claim as a matter of law. The Appeals Court disagreed with both of these arguments.

For the first issue, the Appeals Court pointed out Hendrickson’s refusal to respond to the admissions request waived his privilege to bring it up for the first time in his appeal. It added Hendrickson was informed about his failure to respond. Still, he never brought up the issue with the lower court. So, the appeals court didn’t see it necessary to address it.

As for his second issue, the Appeals Court also agreed with Heard. It ruled both the deemed admissions and Heard's affidavit prove Heard did construction on the home and that Hendrickson didn’t pay him for it in an amount worth $38,746.

“The evidence is sufficient to establish the elements of Heard’s contract claim as a matter of law,” the Appeals Court decided.

Heard’s working relationship with Hendrickson started when he and his wife had plans to build a house. Heard signed a contract with Hendrickson to supervise construction. Heard also took out a loan and signed an agreement that the bank would pay Hendrickson, and Hendrickson would in turn pay his employees. 

Heard and Hendrickson agreed Heard would do work on the home and Hendrickson would pay him. Heard filed the lawsuit for $38,746 in damages plus interest, attorney’s fees and expenses after Hendrickson allegedly failed to pay Heard for the work he did.

After Hendrickson failed to respond to the discovery request, the trial court granted Heard’s motion and signed a new order that granted his motion for traditional summary judgement. Hendrickson then responded, which led to a legal back-and-forth and Heard filing a second motion for summary judgment, which the trial court granted. Hendrickson then appealed.

Justice William J. Boyce authored the opinion. Justices John Donovan and Ken Wise concurred.

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