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Gianacopoulos v. Mos Design

April 16, 2008

JOHN GIANACOPOULOS, PLAINTIFF
v.
MOS DESIGN, INC., DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mannion, M.J.

MEMORANDUM

This matter is before the court following a non-jury trial to determine whether the plaintiff, John Gianacopoulos, ("plaintiff"), has established by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant, MOS Design, Inc., ("defendant"), intentionally interfered with the plaintiff's performance of an architectural contract with the Glen Oak Country Club, ("Glen Oak"). After considering the testimony and documents presented at the trial, the court finds that the plaintiff has not established his claim against the defendant. Therefore, judgment will be entered in favor of the defendant.

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 52(a), this memorandum sets forth the court's findings of fact and conclusions of law regarding the plaintiff's claim.

I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

As the instant memorandum is written for the benefit of the parties, only the relevant history will be set forth herein. On November 21, 2005, the plaintiff filed a five-count complaint against Glen Oak, Burkavage Design Associates, Inc., ("Burkavage"), Louis B. Shapiro, ("Shapiro"), the defendant, and various John and Jane Doe individuals*fn1 . The matter was originally assigned to the Honorable Richard P. Conaboy. As the result of various orders of court and agreements by the parties, only Count IV of the complaint remains against the defendant, MOS Design, Inc.

By consent filed March 17, 2008, the action was reassigned to the undersigned by agreement of the parties and all counsel for a non-jury trial with appeal from any judgment to the United States Court of Appeals. (Doc. No. 172). A non-jury trial was held on March 17, and March 18, 2008. On March 27, and March 28, 2008, counsel filed legal briefs containing their proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law. (Doc. Nos. 175 & 176).

II. FINDINGS OF FACT

Upon review of the testimony and evidence presented at trial, as well as the submissions of counsel, the court makes the following findings of fact:

The plaintiff is a licensed architect in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, having a professional practice in Scranton, Pennsylvania. (TR. 13).

The defendant is an architectural firm located in Scranton, Pennsylvania. (Doc. No. 1, ¶¶9, 9.1, Ex. P-8B ). Eugene Ogozalek is the Secretary and Treasurer of MOS Design, Inc., and a managing agent of the firm. (TR. 146).

Glen Oak is a private golf and country club located in Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania. (Doc. No. 1, ¶¶ 6, 6.1).

The plaintiff first performed work for Glen Oak in the year 2000 when he prepared schematics for a dining room banquet hall, locker room, and grill expansion. The plaintiff was not under contract with Glen Oak to complete the schematics and the project ultimately did not go forward, as it was part of a feasibility study. (TR. 15).

Subsequently, in 2001, the plaintiff performed a poolhouse project for Glen Oak. The plaintiff was under a contract with Glen Oak for this project, and the project was completed by the plaintiff. (TR. 16).

At the time the plaintiff was working on the poolhouse project, he was informed by Glen Oak's Long Range Planning Committee that they were interested in cost estimates for another project which included demolition and reconstruction of Glen Oak's locker rooms, as well as a kitchen addition. (TR. 16-17). On May 12, 2002, the plaintiff and Glen Oak entered into a Standard Form of Agreement Between Owner and Architect, 1987 Edition, ("contract"), relating to this project. (Ex. P-1, TR. 27, 85).

Of importance for purposes of the instant action are several articles contained within the contract. Article 8 of the contract, "Termination, Suspension, or Abandonment," sets forth the conditions upon which the contract can be terminated, suspended, or abandoned by the parties. This article provides for written notice in order to terminate, suspend, or abandon the contract. Further, specific time frames are provided in Article 8 for written notice, which differ based upon whether the contract is terminated, suspended or abandoned. (Ex. P-1).

Article 2 of the contract, "Scope of Architect's Basic Services," provides for various phases of the project, including the Schematic Design Phase, Design Development Phase, Construction Documents Phase, Bidding or Negotiation Phase, and Construction Phase. (Ex. P-1, Article 2, ¶¶ 2.2-2.6).

Relating to Article 2, Article 11 of the contract, "Basis of Compensation," provides, that for the architect's basic services, basic compensation shall be computed at "[a] sum of 7.2% of the total cost for services mentioned herein in Article 1 and Article 2." (Ex. P-1, Article 11. ΒΆ11.2.1). It further provides, that where compensation is based on a stipulated sum or percentage of the construction cost, progress payments for basic services in each phase shall total the following percentages of the total basic compensation payable: Schematic Design Phase: 5%; Design ...


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