Pinches v. Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church – Case Brief
Pinches v. Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church, 55 Conn. 183, 10 A. 264 (1887).
Facts: Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church (D) contracted with Pinches (P) to build a church. Pinches completed the building but it had numerous defects. The ceiling was two feet too low, the windows were too short and narrow, and the seats were narrower than those called for in the specifications. Pinches had acted in good faith and the building was reasonably adaptable to what D originally wanted.
P sued D for nonpayment and D countersued for the cost of adapting the building to conform to the original specifications. At trial the court refused to admit D’s evidence and entered judgment in favor of P for the contract price less the amount of diminution in value resulting from the deviations from the contract. D appealed.
Issue: Under what circumstances can there be recovery for labor and materials on a special building contract?
Holding and Rule: Recovery for labor and materials can be had on a special building contract, even if the contract has been performed improperly.
The court stated that the majority rule was to allow compensation for services rendered and materials furnished under a special contract, even though the building is not entirely in conformity with the desired building, provided that the deviation from the contract was not willful and the other party availed himself of and benefited by the labor and materials. The court held that the recovery was to be reduced by the diminution in value from the agreed upon contract price.