On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Special Civil Part, Warren County, Docket No. SC-00032-10.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Reisner and LeWinn.
Defendant Andrzej Wisinski appeals from a February 23, 2010 order granting a $1950 judgment in favor of plaintiff Marek Radajewski. We affirm.
Defendant hired plaintiff to replace the vinyl siding on his house. According to plaintiff, they agreed on a price of $6000. There was no dispute that he gave defendant a written estimate for that amount. However, plaintiff agreed to reduce the price if defendant assisted him with the work.
Plaintiff testified that after he had been working on the job for a total of five days, he asked defendant to pay an installment of $1200. Defendant initially agreed that he would pay the installment the next week, but he then changed his mind, refused to let plaintiff continue with the work, and stated that he would not pay plaintiff to finish the job. Plaintiff denied that defendant complained about his work; he contended that defendant was inept at helping him with the job. Plaintiff sought $1950 for the labor cost of the work he did before defendant prevented him from completing the job.
Defendant's version of events was very different. According to defendant, plaintiff began the project, but his work was of poor quality. Defendant testified that "everything was done wrong and everything has to be torn down five times." He agreed that plaintiff was on the job on five different days, but stated that plaintiff only worked a few hours each day. He later insisted that he told plaintiff not to come back to the job site after plaintiff's first day on the job, but plaintiff returned anyway.
In her decision, placed on the record on February 23, 2010, Judge Amy O'Connor believed plaintiff's testimony that he properly performed the work and that defendant unreasonably prevented him from finishing the job. She found that plaintiff was a "very credible" witness and defendant was not credible. In particular, she found contradictions in defendant's testimony, noting that "[h]is testimony . . . shifted and changed . . . while he was testifying." She noted that plaintiff was not seeking to be paid what he would have earned for the entire job, but was only asking to be paid for the work he actually performed. She concluded that he was entitled to $1950 for the work that he performed.
On this appeal, our review of Judge O'Connor's decision is very limited. We are bound by her factual findings as long as they are supported by sufficient credible evidence. Rova Farms Resort, Inc. v. Investors Ins. Co. of Am., 65 N.J. 474, 484 (1974). We owe particular deference to the judge's decision as to which witness she found more believable, because she actually heard and saw the witnesses testify. See State v. Locurto, 157 N.J. 463, 470-74 (1999). Based on our review of the record, we find no basis to overturn the judge's decision in favor of plaintiff.
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