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CONTRACTS 17: Defendant refused to pay plaintiff for outstanding invoices.

In approximately 2008, defendant engaged plaintiff to provide information technology (IT) services for defendant’s business. In 2018, the parties’ relationship soured after defendant refused to pay plaintiff for certain outstanding invoices.

This refusal led plaintiff to file a complaint against defendant. Plaintiff attached to its complaint an affidavit of the amount that defendant allegedly owed plaintiff as well as a copy of the account reflecting the amount that defendant owed plaintiff and served upon defendant the complaint with the affidavit and the account. Defendant did not attach to its answer an affidavit denying the account.

After a hearing on plaintiff’s motion, the trial court granted summary disposition in favor of plaintiff on both claims.

Condition Precedent

In every services contract, there exists an implied duty to perform in a diligent and reasonably skillful workmanlike manner. According to defendant, this duty was a condition precedent to the parties’ contract. The duty to perform services in a reasonably skillful and workmanlike manner is just that a duty. It is not a condition precedent.

Reasonableness

Defendant is not alleging that plaintiff engaged in some type of fraud. Instead, defendant is only alleging that plaintiff should have charged less for the jobs it completed. This is not a defense to defendant’s obligations under the contract to pay plaintiff for the time plaintiff spent completing IT services for defendant.

Plaintiff established defendant’s indebtedness to plaintiff, and the fact that plaintiff’s bills were excessive does not rebut that indebtedness. Defendant failed to present any evidence tending to establish that it did not agree to pay plaintiff for the services plaintiff provided, or that the amount that plaintiff claimed was owed was incorrect.

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