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Lane Supply, Inc v. Ameri Oil Company

January 13, 2011

LANE SUPPLY, INC., PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
AMERI OIL COMPANY, INC., ET AL., DEFENDANTS AND APPELLANTS.



Super. Ct. No. CVG072702

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Raye, P.J.

Lane Supply v. Ameri Oil CA3

NOT TO BE PUBLISHED

California Rules of Court, rule 8.1115(a), prohibits courts and parties from citing or relying on opinions not certified for publication or ordered published, except as specified by rule 8.1115(b). This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

Having found that plaintiff Lane Supply, Inc.'s inexperienced salesman failed to obtain an original signed written contract for renovating defendant Kang Property, Inc.'s (Kang) Chevron gas station, the trial court awarded plaintiff a quantum meruit recovery for the reasonable value of the products and services it provided. Defendants Kang and Ameri Oil Company, Inc., contend on appeal there is insufficient evidence to support the trial court's finding. We disagree and affirm the judgment.

FACTS

Plaintiff is a supplier of canopies used in the construction of gas stations and convenience stores. Salesman Steve Giorgetti's deal for plaintiff to refurbish a canopy at Kang's Chevron station was his first and only "image refresh" contract. Following up on leads in his predecessor's file, he contacted Azad Amiri. Amiri, who later testified he had retired before meeting with Giorgetti, claimed he was a consultant/contractor assisting Sarbjit Kang, the owner of a Chevron gas station in Dunnigan, with participating in a Chevron reimbursement program to renovate the station. Yet he insisted he was not an agent for Kang; he merely "coordinated" the refresh project. Although Amiri had been in the gas station business for 35 years, Kang's station was his first foray into consulting.

In February or March 2007 Giorgetti met Amiri at the Ameri Oil offices where Amiri either was or had been employed. Amiri's testimony about his relationship with Kang was slippery at best. He claimed he was retired, but neither Giorgetti nor Kang seemed aware of the fact. Giorgetti testified that he met Amiri at the Ameri Oil office, and Amiri never told him he did not work for Ameri Oil or that he was no longer employed by Ameri Oil. Amiri used the Ameri Oil address as his personal address and provided that address to plaintiff. The trial court found that Ameri Oil and Amiri of Ameri Oil were agents of Kang, acting as the manager of the Chevron station's renovation and improvement.

Giorgetti discussed the renovation with Amiri. Amiri referred him to Chevron to research the details about the refresher program it offered gas station owners to renovate their stations. Giorgetti contacted Chevron as requested and reviewed the terms of the letter Chevron had sent Kang describing the refresh program. Chevron's letter explained that a "Level 3" refresh, which Kang's station needed, included changes to the signage, canopy, and fueling stations. Meanwhile, Amiri obtained other bids for the job, including one for $38,000 and another for $35,500. Chevron would reimburse the station a maximum of $34,200 for the Level 3 refresh it required.

Giorgetti testified he had several face-to-face meetings with Amiri before presenting a proposal. The written proposal limited the scope of the work to the canopy. The agreed price of the work was $31,140. Robert Shepard, plaintiff's director of sales and marketing, testified plaintiff received a faxed copy of the contract signed by Kang. The contract, however, provided that plaintiff required a signed original. The contract also required a 25 percent down payment. Giorgetti picked up a check from Amiri for $8,000 with a notation on the check, "canopy."

The canopy renovation was only part of the renovation required by Chevron. As a result, once plaintiff completed the project Chevron refused to sign off and reimburse Kang for the full amount of the contract. Amiri was very upset. He testified he did not sign plaintiff's proposal, he told Giorgetti he needed a bid on the whole refresh project, and he had not entered into a contract with plaintiff. Rather, he claimed he entered into an oral agreement with Giorgetti to complete the entire renovation according to Chevron's specifications.

Giorgetti insisted he read the terms of the contract, which expressly limited the scope of the project to the canopy, to Amiri line by line, and he never represented that plaintiff would completely renovate the station, including changes to the signage and fueling stations. Giorgetti testified that Amiri was going to fax the signed contract to him, and he ultimately received the faxed agreement.

Plaintiff manufactured the materials and hired a subcontractor to complete the installation. Plaintiff paid the subcontractor $8,400. After the job was done, defendant refused to pay, asserting that plaintiff failed to honor the oral agreement to meet Chevron's specifications for a Level 3 refresher. There is no dispute over the quality of the work.

Defendant's designated expert on damages was barred from testifying at trial because he failed to appear at his deposition. According to Amiri, Chevron would not reimburse Kang for plaintiff's work because the job was not complete. Amiri testified he hired another firm to finish the project for a fee of $28,793.59. Defendant presented no other ...


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