On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Morris County, Docket No. L-1195-07 and L-1294-07.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted November 17, 2010
Before Judges Gilroy and Nugent.
In this consolidated book account action, defendant John Koslowski appeals from the March 9, 2010 order that entered judgment against him personally and against defendant K&K Builders, Inc. (collectively, the defendants) in the amount of $76,457.38. We affirm.
On May 1, 2007, plaintiff Andrew E. Hall & Son, Inc., filed a complaint against defendants seeking damages in the amount of $56,030.99 for breach of contract under docket number L-1195-07. On May 7, 2007, plaintiff filed a second complaint against defendants seeking additional damages in the amount of $20,426.39 for breach of contract under docket number L-1294-07. On February 1, 2008, the trial court entered an order consolidating the two cases. The matter was tried before the court sitting without a jury on February 24, 2010. The only person to testify at the trial was plaintiff's president, Andrew
E. Hall (Hall). On March 9, 2010, the trial court entered an order supported by a two-page statement of reasons entering judgment in favor of plaintiff and against defendants, jointly and severally, in the amount of $76,457.38.
Plaintiff is a heating and plumbing contractor. Koslowski is the president and principal owner of K&K Builders, Inc., a home improvement contractor. The parties did business together for approximately fifteen years. Plaintiff provided goods and services to K&K Builders on a time and material basis for use by K&K Builders in constructing various building projects. Prior to 2004, the parties enjoyed a good working relationship, and K&K Builders never complained about the cost of plaintiff's services or of its work.
On May 7, 2004, K&K Builders owed plaintiff $82,606.83. Because Hall became wary of the large debt and refused to provide additional goods or services, or to extend further credit, Koslowski agreed to execute a personal guarantee. The parties signed an agreement dated May 7, 2004, that stated:
I, John Koslowski, hereby acknowledge that as of May 7, 2004, I presently owe Andrew E. Hall & Son, Inc. a balance of $82,606.83. I agree to pay Andrew E. Hall & Son, Inc. in a timely manner the full amount of monies owed. I also understand that I am not to incur and [sic] additional debt with Andrew E. Hall & Son, Inc. All future monies are to be paid upon receipt or within a 30-day grace period.
Adjacent to Koslowski's signature appears the term "personally." Hall understood the agreement to be a personal guarantee by Koslowski to not only pay the outstanding balance of $82,606.83, but to also personally guarantee all future debt incurred by K&K Builders for plaintiff's goods or services. K&K Builders subsequently paid the $82,606.83 owed to plaintiff.
Between May and November 2006, plaintiff provided an additional $76,457.38 worth of goods and services to K&K Builders. Because defendants failed to timely pay the $76,457.38, plaintiff's two lawsuits followed.
In finding favorably for plaintiff, the court stated in relevant part:
Mr. Hall testified that he was unwilling to continue to do business with K&K Builders, Inc.[,] unless its principal, John Koslowski, executed this document. Mr. Hall indicated that his understanding of this document was a promise by Mr. Koslowski personally that he would no longer fail to pay timely the amounts due and that it was a personal guarantee that Mr. Koslowski would be personally bound to ...