from the Order May 21, 2015 In the Court of Common Pleas of
Montgomery County Civil Division at No(s): 2011-34020
BEFORE: PANELLA, J., LAZARUS, J., and FITZGERALD, J.
Restaurant Group, LLC ("Sycamore"), appeals from
the order, entered in the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery
County, which granted construction delay damages in its favor
in the amount of $20, 332.59. After careful review, we affirm.
initiated the instant action in December 2011, asserting
Stampfi breached an architectural and engineering services
contract with Sycamore for construction of a new restaurant.
A non-jury trial was held on May 14 and 15, 2015. The
court's decision, finding in favor of Sycamore in the
amount of $20, 332.59, plus costs, was docketed on May 22,
2015. Thereafter, Sycamore filed a post-trial motion on June
1, 2015,  asserting that the Court erred by failing
to consider certain evidence and testimony in reaching its
decision, and thus, the damages award is inadequate. Stampfi
filed a post-trial motion on July 1, 2015, asserting that the
court erred in awarding damages to Sycamore. The court denied
both post-trial motions on August 4, 2015, and entered
judgment in favor of Sycamore on August 12, 2015. Sycamore
and Stampfi each filed timely notices of appeal and
court-ordered concise statements of errors complained of on
appeal pursuant to Pa.R.A.P. 1925(b).
appeal, Sycamore raises the following question for our
Did the lower court commit legal error and/or abuse its
discretion, by entering an inadequate verdict in favor of
Sycamore, based solely on money damages of $20, 332.59 for
construction completion delay (for rent and construction loan
interest associated with the extra time need[ed] to complete
the unanticipated rock removal and dewatering), but excluding
the credible and uncontroverted evidence of additional money
damages for the $197, 009.12 of costs actually incurred by
Sycamore for [the] unanticipated rock removal and dewatering?
Brief for Appellant, at 3.
February 17, 2016, the trial court issued its Rule 1925(a)
opinion in which it requested that this Court quash both
parties' appeals. Further, the trial court declined to
address the issue of damages on the basis that both parties
delayed in requesting that the trial notes be
transcribed. This could be grounds for dismissal in our
Court pursuant to Rule 1911; however, the trial court did not
file its Rule 1925(a) opinion until February 17, 2016, a week
after the trial transcript was completed and
filed. Accordingly, we determined the trial court could have
reviewed the transcript and produced a Rule 1925(a) opinion
analyzing the merits of the issue raised on appeal and
addressing its determination of damages. Therefore, on
January 14, 2016, we remanded this case for the trial court
to file a supplemental opinion addressing Sycamore's
claim. On March 24, 2017, the trial court issued an opinion
on remand, finding Sycamore's issue on appeal to be
meritless. The same issue now before us, we proceed with our
standard in reviewing a court order entered after a bench
trial is limited: "[This Court] will reverse a court
order . . . only if the decision is based on an error of law
or on factual findings that are unsupported by evidence of
record." Agliori v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co.,
879 A.2d 315, 318, p.p. (Pa. Super. 2006) (internal citation
Sycamore avers the trial court erred where it did not admit
change request documents that Sycamore contends prove $197,
009.12 in additional damages. We disagree.
of evidence depends on relevance and probative value.
Evidence is relevant if it logically tends to establish a
material fact in the case, tends to make a fact at issue more
or less probable or supports a reasonable inference or
presumption regarding a material fact." Klein v.
Aronchick, 85 A.3d 487 (Pa. Super. 2014). The court my
exclude relevant evidence if its probative value is
outweighed by a danger of unfair prejudice. See
Pa.R.E. 403. "[Q]uestions regarding the admissibility or
exclusion of evidence are within the sound discretion of the
trial court and will not be disturbed absent an abuse of
discretion." Spino v. John S. Tilley Ladder
Co., 671 A.3d 726, 734 (Pa. Super. 1997). However,
"[a]n abuse of discretion may not be found merely
because an appellate court might have reached a different
conclusion, but requires a manifest unreasonableness, or
partiality, prejudice, bias, or ill-will, or such lack of
support so as to be clearly erroneous." Grady v.
Frito-Lay, Inc., 839 A.2d 1038, 1046 (Pa. 2003).
the proponent of evidence must satisfy the requirement of
authenticating or identifying an item of evidence by proving
that the item is what the proponent claims it is. Pa.R.E.
901. "A document may be authenticated, as a condition
precedent to admissibility, by direct proof and/or by
circumstantial evidence; proof of any circumstances which
will support a finding that the writing is genuine will
suffice to authenticate the writing." Zuk v.
Zuk, 55 A.3d 102, 111 (Pa. Super. 2012).
we address Sycamore's assertion that the change request
documents were admissible into evidence as modifications to
the parties' Construction Contract. This argument is
interpreting a contract, this Court need not defer to the
conclusions of the trial court and is free to draw its own
inferences. Southwestern Energy Production Co. v.
Forest Resources, LLC, 83 A.3d 177 (Pa. Super. 2015). In
interpreting the language of a contract, courts attempt to
ascertain the intent of the parties and give it effect.
LJL Transp., Inc. v. Pilot Air Freight Corp., 962
A.2d. 639, 648 (Pa. 2009). When the words of an agreement are
clear and unambiguous, the court ascertains the intent of the
parties from the language used in the agreement, which it
will give its commonly accepted and plain meaning.
Id. We must construe a contract only as written and
may not modify plain meaning under the guise of
interpretation. Southwestern Energy, 93 A.3d at 183.
7.2.1 of the Construction Contract reads as follows:
A Change Order is a written instrument prepared by the
Architect and signed by the Owner, Contractor and Architect,
stating their ...