On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Monmouth County.
Approved for Publication July 7, 1997.
Before Judges Dreier and Villanueva. The opinion of the court was delivered by VILLANUEVA, J.A.D.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: VILLANUEVA
The opinion of the court was delivered by
VILLANUEVA, J.A.D.(retired and temporarily assigned on recall).
Plaintiff appeals from an order denying injunctive relief to restrain a "Homeowners Buyers Warranty" arbitration proceeding involving alleged defects in the home plaintiff constructed for John and Jean D'Urso ("defendants"). We affirm.
On January 25, 1994, the defendants entered into a contract with Marius Gudelis and his corporation, Architectural Innovations, Inc. (plaintiff), for the construction of a five-bedroom house at 5 Goose Point Drive, Colts Neck, New Jersey for $441,575. This price did not include the cost of the land, which the defendants had purchased separately. As construction of the house neared completion, the defendants contended that the house was not constructed in a satisfactory manner. Defendants refused to pay the final payment of $48,573.25 when plaintiff demanded it because, according to defendants, the house was not complete.
Plaintiff filed a demand for arbitration to obtain payment of the balance of the money plaintiff claimed was due ($81,522.22, plus fees). Paragraph IV-m of the contract between plaintiff and defendants provided that either party "may submit any dispute to this contract to arbitration in accordance with the American Arbitration Association's Construction Industry Arbitration Rules." Defendants, in their Answering Statement to the Demand for Arbitration with Demand for Set Off and Counterclaim, requested the following:
THE CLAIM OR RELIEF SOUGHT (the amount, if any): The Respondent/counterclaimant seeks the disallowance of the purported extras and upgrades in the sum of $32,948.97, the repair of all defective items of workmanship, the completion of all incomplete items, the reduction of the balance due on contract for $48,573.25 and the sum of $23,543.54 for expenses incurred or to be incurred by the respondent/counterclaimant as a result of the claimant's breach of contract, a sum sufficient to perform proper repairs of the structurally deficient basement floor which has been estimated to approximate the sum of $20,000, legal fees, arbitration fees and expenses, witness fees and any other damages incurred as the result of claimant's breach of contract.
An arbitration hearing took place in February and March 1995, over the course of eight days. John Rudderow, of the American Arbitration Association, was the arbitrator. Both sides provided expert and lay witnesses, as well as an on-site inspection, to support their positions. Only certain portions of the transcript of the proceedings are presently in existence.
On April 3, 1995, John Rudderow issued his one-page decision. The decision did not incorporate a finding of what claims had been considered, nor did it include a statement addressing what claims had been either specifically accepted or rejected by Rudderow. The arbitration award stated:
1. JOHN D'URSO AND JEAN D'URSO, hereinafter referred to as the RESPONDENT, shall pay to ARCHITECTURAL INNOVATIONS, INC., hereinafter referred to as CLAIMANT, the sum of THIRTY THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED DOLLARS ($30,700.00).
2. Each party is to pay his or her Attorney Fees.
3. The administrative fees and expenses of the AAA
shall be borne equally by the parties and shall be paid as directed ...