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Snider v. Dickinson Elks Building, LLC

Supreme Court of North Dakota

February 22, 2018

Rick Snider and Janan Snider d/b/a RJ Snider Construction, Plaintiffs and Appellees
v.
Dickinson Elks Building, LLC, Defendant and Appellant

         Appeal from the District Court of Stark County, Southwest Judicial District, the Honorable William A. Herauf, Judge. REVERSED AND REMANDED.

          Sean T. Foss, Fargo, N.D., for plaintiffs and appellees.

          Christopher J. Thompson, West Fargo, N.D., for defendant and appellant.

          OPINION

          Tufte, Justice.

         [¶ 1] Dickinson Elks Building, LLC, appeals from a judgment awarding Rick and Janan Snider, doing business as RJ Snider Construction ("RJ Snider"), $198, 255.08 for unjust enrichment and quantum meruit claims. Dickinson Elks argues the district court erred by deciding RJ Snider's claims were not precluded by N.D.C.C. § 43-07-02. We conclude RJ Snider was not precluded from maintaining its claims; however, we reverse and remand for the district court to determine whether any of the damages awarded were for services and materials provided before RJ Snider was licensed.

         I

         [¶ 2] On December 26, 2011, RJ Snider contracted with Granville Brinkman to furnish materials and labor for construction work on real property owned by Dickinson Elks. RJ Snider's principal place of business is located in Washington. On January 13, 2012, RJ Snider applied for a contractor license from the North Dakota Secretary of State, and the license was issued on February 6, 2012.

         [¶ 3] RJ Snider provided services and materials for Dickinson Elks' property from December 26, 2011, to November 30, 2012. Dickinson Elks paid RJ Snider for all of the services and materials it provided between December 26, 2011, and February 1, 2012. RJ Snider billed Dickinson Elks $71, 542.50 for the services and materials it provided from February 2, 2012, through March 14, 2012. Dickinson Elks paid $47, 929.51 of the billed amount but did not pay $23, 612.99. RJ Snider billed Dickinson Elks $174, 642.10 for the services and materials it provided from March 15, 2012, until November 30, 2012. Dickinson Elks did not pay any of this amount.

         [¶ 4] In January 2013, RJ Snider recorded a construction lien for $198, 255.08 against Dickinson Elks' property. In May 2014, Dickinson Elks served RJ Snider with a demand to start a lawsuit to enforce the lien and record a lis pendens within 30 days of the demand. RJ Snider sued Dickinson Elks in June 2014, seeking foreclosure of the construction lien and a money judgment for $198, 255.08. RJ Snider recorded a notice of lis pendens on July 28, 2014.

         [¶ 5] Dickinson Elks moved for summary judgment, arguing RJ Snider's complaint should be dismissed under N.D.C.C. § 43-07-02 because RJ Snider was not a licensed contractor when it started work on the property. Dickinson Elks also argued RJ Snider did not have a valid construction lien, because RJ Snider did not record a lis pendens within 30 days of receiving the demand to enforce the lien. The district court partially granted the motion and entered a judgment forfeiting RJ Snider's construction lien because RJ Snider did not record a lis pendens within 30 days of receiving Dickinson Elks' demand to enforce the lien as required under N.D.C.C. § 35-27-25. The court concluded RJ Snider's claims were not precluded under N.D.C.C. § 43-07-02. Dickinson Elks appealed, and this Court dismissed the appeal because the judgment was not a final, appealable judgment. Snider v. Dickinson Elks Bldg., LLC, 2016 ND 162, ¶ 12, 883 N.W.2d 475.

         [¶ 6] RJ Snider amended its complaint, claiming it was entitled to a money judgment against Dickinson Elks under the principles of quantum meruit and unjust enrichment. The parties stipulated to entry of findings of fact, conclusions of law, and order for judgment, and also agreed Dickinson Elks was not waiving any right to appeal by entering into the stipulation. The parties agreed RJ Snider provided materials and services for the benefit of Dickinson Elks' property, it was not paid for the services and materials it provided, and RJ Snider established it was entitled to a money judgment against Dickinson Elks in the amount of $198, 255.08 under the principles of quantum meruit and unjust enrichment.

         [¶ 7] The district court entered findings of fact, conclusions of law, and order for judgment consistent with the parties' stipulation. Judgment was entered in favor of RJ Snider in the amount of $198, 255.08.

         II

         [¶ 8] Dickinson Elks argues the district court erred in determining RJ Snider's claims were not precluded by N.D.C.C. § 43-07-02. Dickinson Elks contends N.D.C.C. § 43-07-02 requires a contractor be licensed at the time of contract formation or commencement of work under the contract to maintain a claim or action related to the work performed under the contract. Because RJ Snider did not obtain a license until after it had entered into the contract and started ...


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