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KLE Construction, LLC v. Twalker Development, LLC

Supreme Court of North Dakota

December 5, 2016

KLE Construction, LLC, Plaintiff and Appellee
v.
Twalker Development, LLC, Defendant and Appellant

         Appeal from the District Court of McKenzie County, Northwest Judicial District, the Honorable Robin Ann Schmidt, Judge.

         AFFIRMED.

          Thomas M. Jackson, for plaintiff and appellee.

          Sean T. Foss, for defendant and appellant.

          OPINION

          KAPSNER, JUSTICE.

         [¶ 1] Twalker Development, LLC appeals from a judgment granting KLE Construction LLC's claim for unjust enrichment and ordering Twalker to pay $87, 958.74 in damages. We affirm, concluding the district court did not err in granting KLE's unjust enrichment claim and awarding damages.

         I

         [¶ 2] KLE is a construction company, providing civil construction services in western North Dakota and eastern Montana. Twalker is a real estate development company seeking to develop real estate in McKenzie County.

         [¶ 3] KLE and Twalker engaged in negotiations for KLE to provide construction services to Twalker in exchange for four lots located in Twalker's development. KLE and Twalker never executed a written contract finalizing the terms of an agreement. KLE began performing construction services on the property, including preliminary dirt work related to clearing and scraping the property. KLE also hired an engineering firm to create plans to subdivide the property for future sales. KLE and Twalker disagreed about certain aspects of the project, and Twalker terminated KLE's services. Twalker continued to develop the property and did not compensate KLE for the services it provided.

         [¶ 4] KLE sued Twalker for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and forbearance. After a bench trial, the district court dismissed KLE's breach of contract claim, finding KLE failed to establish the existence of a contract. The court dismissed KLE's forbearance claim, stating forbearance is not a separate and distinct claim. The court granted KLE's unjust enrichment claim and found KLE was entitled to $90, 857 in damages. The court ordered each party pay the other party's costs and disbursements. A judgment was entered in favor of KLE for $87, 958.74.

         II

         [¶ 5] In Border Res., LLC v. Irish Oil & Gas, Inc., 2015 ND 238, ¶ 14, 869 N.W.2d 758 (quoting Brash v. Gulleson, 2013 ND 156, ¶ 7, 835 N.W.2d 798), we explained the standard of review for an appeal from a bench trial:

[T]he trial court's findings of fact are reviewed under the clearly erroneous standard of N.D.R.Civ.P. 52(a) and its conclusions of law are fully reviewable. A finding of fact is clearly erroneous if it is induced by an erroneous view of the law, if there is no evidence to support it, or if, after reviewing all the evidence, we are left with a definite and firm conviction a mistake has been made. In a bench trial, the trial court is the determiner of credibility issues and we do not second-guess the trial court on its credibility determinations.

         The district court's determination of whether the facts support a finding of unjust enrichment is fully reviewable on appeal. Northstar Founders, LLC v. Hayden ...


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