Bailey v. Lanou
Once a violation of the Home Improvement Act, C.G.S. §20-418 has been established, to recover damages under the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act, C.G.S. §42-110a, the Supreme Court in its 2009 decision in Hees v. Burke Construction, Inc., explained that " the homeowners still must prove that they have suffered an injury or actual loss." William Bailey hired Vernon Lanou to construct and pave a driveway and path. The written proposal and contract represented that Lanou was a licensed home improvement contractor. Bailey paid Lanou $30,300 for the work performed. They disagreed about corrective work. Bailey brought a complaint against Lanou alleging negligence, breach of contract and a CUTPA violation. The defendant filed an answer with special defenses and a counterclaim. Following a trial to the court, the court found for the plaintiff on all claims and special defenses. The court found that the defendant failed to fulfill his obligations to construct the driveway "in a substantial workmanlike manner" and with material "guaranteed to be as specified…" Remedial work was found to cost $18,000. The court awarded this amount and indicated that the plaintiff's counsel could submit a fee affidavit to seek attorneys' fees under C.G.S. §42-110g (d). The defendant appealed raising multiple claims. The Appellate Court dismissed for lack of a final judgment that portion of the appeal contesting the attorneys' fee award and otherwise affirmed the judgment. The defendant contended, inter alia, that the trial court improperly awarded damages under CUTPA because the plaintiff failed to prove an ascertainable loss. The defendant did not dispute the finding that he was not a licensed home improvement contractor when the contract was executed and work performed in violation of the HIA. The trial court specifically found that the plaintiff relied on the defendant's representations that he was a licensed home improvement contractor in entering into the contract. Because the defendant failed to fulfill his contractual obligations to construct the driveway in a substantial workmanlike manner and to utilize the specified material, the plaintiff was damaged. The trial court properly concluded that the plaintiff suffered an ascertainable loss. The plaintiff purchased the driveway, in part, as a result of the defendant's false representation that he was a licensed home improvement contractor, which driveway was different from that for which he bargained.