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Furniture Outlet Appeals Verdict for Delivery Company

Friday, December 21, 2007 Lawyers Weekly, Inc..                                 

Trial Reports

Weekends Only says it justifiably terminated contract with plaintiff

Heather Cole

$150,000 verdict

St. Louis company Weekends Only Furniture Outlet is appealing a $150,000 verdict in a lawsuit filed by a former delivery company for the retailer.

Attorneys for Weekends Only on Nov.16 filed a notice that the retailer is appealing the award to Cord Investments, the former owner of delivery company Cord Forwarders.

Cord Forwarders lost about $800,000 in revenue and $150,000 in profits when Weekends Only dropped the delivery company in the second year of a two-year contract, according to plaintiff’s attorney Erik Solverud.

Cord Forwarders signed the contract in 2004 to be the exclusive home delivery service for the five-store Weekends Only chain. Cord Investments sued the retailer in 2005, saying Weekends Only wrongfully terminated its contract.

Weekends Only claimed it justifiably ended the contract under a provision allowing the contract to be ended with five days’ notice if there is a “material default.” Cord Forwarders had scheduling problems and delivery delays, and some of its employees acted inappropriately, said Francis E. Pennington III, attorney for the defendant. In addition to challenging the jury instructions in the trial, Weekends Only is appealing because Cord Forwarders failed to prove it had adequately performed under the contract.

“It’s a technical point in contract law, but we think it’s a very important point,” Pennington said.

Plaintiff’s attorneys undermined Weekends Only ‘s argument during the four-day trial with evidence that before Weekends Only declared a default of the contract, it had signed another contract with a Cord Forwarders’ competitor, Pennington said.

“We think (the other contract) played a significant role in convincing the jury the reasons for terminating the contract given by Weekends Only primarily were self-serving, to justify the actions they’d already taken,” Solverud said.

The loss of Weekends Only as a customer, which had provided a substantial amount of Cord Forwarders’ business, forced the delivery company to lay off at least seven employees, Solverud said.

Cord Forwarders since has been sold. Half the verdict award has been paid to Cord Investments, Solverud said. The remainder will be paid in the first quarter of 2008, Pennington said. The award will have to be paid back if Weekends Only prevails in appeals court.

Facts of the Case

Type of Action: Breach of contract

Injuries Alleged: Lost profits

Court/Case No./Date: St. Louis County Circuit Court/05CC-005041/Sept. 13, 2007

Case name: Cord Investments Inc. v. Weekends Only Inc.

Tried Before: Jury

Name of Judge: Gary M. Gaertner Jr.

Last demand: $90,000

Last offer: $50,000

Verdict/Settlement: $150,000 verdict

Special Damages: N/A

Allocation of Fault: N/A

Attorneys for Plaintiff: Erik Solverud and Frank Neuner, of Spencer Fane Britt & Browne, St.

Louis

Attorneys for Defendant: Francis E. Pennington III and Laurie Shea, of Pennington Shea, St.

Louis

Insurer: None

Plaintiff’s Expert: Ryan Clark (business and financial consulting) Hoffman Clark, St. Louis

Defendant’s Experts: None

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