The jury in Andersen Builders v. Kritikos found contract breaches by Andersen, Mr. Kritikos, and Arcs Construction Services.
In closing argument, plaintiff attorney Jack Seiler reminded the jury that Andersen believed the case to be a simple breach of contract. Mr. Kritikos requested that Andersen build a showpiece house on Jupiter Island. There was a contract, and Andersen performed under the contract. Andersen provided laborers, supervision of trades, a working superintendent, hands-on supervision, and coordinated with local and state building officials.
Attorney Thomas Berger argued that delay damages against Andersen were inappropriate because, despite Mr. Kritikos’ claim that Andersen had committed to a 14-month absolute completion date, there was no such date in the contract. The contract did not indicate that time was of the essence, nor was there a liquidated damages clause. Moreover, at no time was Andersen’s fee reduced because of any delay.
Although there were delays, said Mr. Seiler, the delays were not Andersen’s fault. Many of the delays were caused by Mr. Kritikos, and others were the result of storms. Mr. Seiler challenged the jury to consider why the defendants had spent $800K in expert witness fees to avoid meeting their obligations under the contract.
Mr. Seiler concluded, “This man decided that because he got in an argument with his architect and got in an argument with his design team that he’s firing everyone and not paying Mr. Andersen…Mr. Andersen is stilled owed $548,000 for the work he did here at this property. And Mr. Kritikos needs to pay that bill.”
On behalf of Mr. Kritikos, attorney Louis Mrachek pointed out that Anderson had never built a house anything like this before, and Anderson should have disclosed their inexperience, which resulted in a house way over budget and behind schedule. According to Mr. Mrachek, Anderson received a lot more money than it was entitled to based on what it built.
Mr. Mrachek accused Mr. Seiler of muddying the waters by pointing at the effects of hurricanes and the amount of money experts were paid, rather than what the experts said. The real issue, said Mr. Mracheck, was whether Andersen performed as required by the contract. Mr. Mracheck also requested damages against construction manager Arcs of $1,139,343 for breach of contract, $300,615 against Arcs for acting as a contractor without a license, and $1,196,800 against Peter Gluck for negligence.
In defense of Arcs Construction Services and Gluck, attorney Ted Mortell claimed that Arcs was not acting as construction manager, not general contractor. Further, Arcs did not breach its contract, and architect Peter Gluck was not negligent. Mr. Mortell pointed to Mr. Kritikos’ history of litigation and suggested that Mr. Kritikos had shown a pattern of refusing to pay contractors. “That’s who Mr. Kritikos is,” said Mr. Mortell. “He is a ruthless, wealthy man who uses his money and his lawyers to get what he wants…he knew exactly what was going on, you can watch the budget increase month by month, never said a peep. Never objected. Never complained, until February or March…when it’s getting close to the end.”
The jury found that Andersen suffered $548K in damages due to Mr. Kritikos’ breach of contract, and Mr. Kritikos suffered delay damages of $130,000 due to Andersen’s breach of contract. The jury also found a breach of contract by Arcs, which resulted in $1,139,343 in damages owed to Mr. Kritikos. The jury also concluded that Arcs did not act as a contractor, and that there was no negligence by architect Peter Gluck in the design of the Kritikos house.