Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Universal Builders, Inc. v. Moon Motor Lodge, Inc. case brief

Universal Builders, Inc. v. Moon Motor Lodge, Inc. case brief summary
244 A.2d 10 (Pa. 1968)

Defendant appealed a final decree of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County (Pennsylvania) awarding plaintiff the balance due on the parties' construction agreement.

Defendant and plaintiff builder entered into a construction agreement that provided, in part, that extra work would not be compensated unless done pursuant to a written change order. Defendant appealed a judgment awarding compensation to plaintiff for such work.


  • In affirming the trial court's verdict, the court concluded that when a owner requests a builder to do extra work, promises to pay for it, and watches the work performed, knowing that it was not authorized in writing, he cannot refuse to pay on the grounds that there was no written change order. 
  • Thus, when plaintiff directed defendant to perform extra work, the contract condition requiring written change orders was excused by implication. 
  • The court further rejected defendant's contention that the fraudulent acts of plaintiff's employee should be imputed to the plaintiff, noting that the doctrine of clean hands may be invoked to bar equitable, not legal, remedies.
The final decree awarding plaintiff money damages on the parties' construction agreement was affirmed, as defendant's request that extra work be performed and its promise to pay excused by implication the contract provision precluding payment for extra work in the absence of a written change order.

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