MW Builders, Inc. subcontracted with Bergelectric to provide a complete electrical system under the contract’s plans and specifications. The subcontract also required Bergelectric to provide temporary power to the project site, prior to the installation of permanent power. To receive payments under the subcontract, Bergelectric had to sign lien waivers and releases and submit them to MW Builders, with applications for payment. Bergelectric also had to sign lien wavers and releases, stating: “[Bergelectric] irrevocably and unconditionally releases and waives any and all mechanic’s liens or other liens against the Realty or any other claims on any bonds or any other claims whatsoever in connection with this Contract and with the Realty through the end of the period covered by this Application . . . .”
In an earlier decision, the Court granted partial summary judgment in favor of MW Builders but determined that the claims of its subcontractor, Bergelectric were waived under its releases. MW Builders filed under Rule 59, asking the Court to reconsider its ruling regarding Bergelectric.
MW Builders argued that the Court committed manifest error because “the Court failed to consider the applicable case law requiring consideration of extrinsic evidence offered at trial regarding Bergelectric and MW Builders’ lack of intent to waive Bergelectric’s pass-through claim in the progress releases.” MW Builders further argued that the Court should reform the release language.
The Court denied MW Builders’ motion. The Court explained the MW Builders had not met the standard for reconsideration under Rule 59, which requires (1) intervening change in controlling law; (2) newly available evidence; and (3) motion is necessary to prevent manifest unjustice. The Court also stated that the terms of the contract are unambiguous, which must be given their plain meaning without consideration of extrinsic evidence. The Court also explained that it did not have equitable jurisdiction between private parties.
Read Judge Braden’s full decision here.