Default, Fraud, and VCPA (Oh My!)

Red pin in Fraud

A recent case from the Eastern District of Virginia District Court discusses the interaction between fraud and contract (along with that dreaded default).

September 12, 2023
Christopher G. Hill - Construction Law Musings

I’ve discussed the Virginia Consumer Protection Act (VCPA) and the interaction between fraud and contract on numerous occasions here at Construction Law Musings. A recent case from the Eastern District of Virginia District Court discusses this interaction (along with that dreaded default) further.

In Bhutta v. DRM Construction Corp., the homeowners, the Bhuttas, sued DRM for breach of contract, conversion, fraud, and a violation of the VCPA. These allegations were based upon DRM having taken a $40,000.00 deposit from the Bhuttas and then failing to even begin work. As you may have guessed from the title of this post, DRM did not respond to the Complaint and the Court granted default. The Court then took up the question of whether the Bhuttas had alleged enough on each count for default judgment on those counts. After going through a procedural recitation and finding that DRM was properly served and that the Court had jurisdiction, the Court got to the meat of the matter.

The Court held that the Bhuttas properly plead a breach of contract for the obvious reason. The reason was that DRM never performed any work and the Bhuttas were damaged because they both paid the deposit and also had to hire another contractor to complete the work at a higher price. The Court granted default judgment for breach of contract.

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