Malich v. Sivilla
Allegations that homeowners were expressly informed that a home improvement contract did not include a start and end date, and that they approved the pace and quality of work performed, can result in a genuine issue whether the homeowners' invocation of their rights under Connecticut General Statutes §20-429(a) of the Home Improvement Act was in good faith. Allegedly, the defendants, Eleanor and Mathew Sivilla, hired the plaintiff, Jeff Malich, to perform home improvement work. Malich sued, alleging the defendants failed to pay. The defendants argued that Malich failed to comply with the Home Improvement Act, because the contract did not include the start and end dates or notice that the defendants possessed the right to cancel. Malich objected that he informed the defendants that because the work required custom-made materials and specialized skill, he could not predict the end date or exact cost. Malich alleged that he kept in constant contact with the defendants about the status of his work, costs and his schedule, and that the defendants did not object to the time, the delivery, the pace or quality. "[A] contractor, otherwise precluded from recovering moneys owed for his work because of a violation of the act, must be permitted to assert that the homeowner's bad faith precludes him from safely repudiating the contract and hiding behind the act in order to bar the contractor's recovery," pursuant to Habetz v. Condon, a 1992 decision of the Connecticut Supreme Court. "Bad faith means more than mere negligence; it involves a dishonest purpose," pursuant to Wadia Enterprises Inc. v. Hirschfeld, a 1992 decision of the Connecticut Supreme Court. There were genuine issues of material fact concerning whether the defendants elected to hire Malich, although they knew that the contract did not comply with C.G.S. §20-429(a); whether the defendants were pleased with Malich's work; and whether their invocation of §20-429(a) was in good faith. The court denied the defendants' motion for summary judgment, pursuant to C.G.S. §20-429(a). Malich failed to prove that defendant Eleanor Sivilla, who allegedly inspected his work, signed the contract, and the court granted her motion for summary judgment.