Liggett v. Young

877 N.E.2d 178 (2007)


P was a builder who contracted with D, a lawyer, and wife, to construct a private residence. D used a standard preprinted construction contract wherein D added an extra paragraph that prohibited changes unless made in writing. P was sued by a supplier of bricks and materials used in the construction of the home. P then initiated a third-party complaint against D. D's answer included a counterclaim against P seeking damages for allegedly negligent and untimely performance of the work under the building contract. P asserted the existence of unpaid additional labor and materials from change orders; attached exhibits consisting of plans and specifications related to the construction; and asserted that at the time of the contract, D was serving as P's attorney and had assured P that 'that there would be no problems' as a result of D's 'dual status' as P's attorney and party to the contract. D invoked the extra provision in the contract against verbal change orders. The court did not address P's assertions regarding the fact or implications of D's 'dual status' as both a contracting party with and lawyer for P. The trial court granted partial summary judgment in favor of D as to all of P's claims against them. The trial court entered final judgment in favor of D and against P as to all of P's claims against D. P appealed, and the Court of Appeals affirmed. P appealed. P contends in part D failed to carry their burden on summary judgment to prove that the construction contract was not void by reason of Indiana Professional Conduct Rule 1.8, which restricts an attorney's ability to engage in transactions with the attorney's client.