TIMOTHY JORGENSEN and KIRI JORGENSEN, Plaintiffs, Counterclaim Defendants and Appellees,
TRADEMARK WOODWORKS, LLC, Defendant, Counterclaimant and Appellant.
Submitted on Briefs: September 26, 2018
FROM: District Court of the Fifth Judicial District, In and
For the County of Beaverhead, Cause No. DV-15-13880 Honorable
Luke Berger, Presiding Judge
Appellant: Laurence Stinson, Stinson Law Group, P.C.,
Appellees: Michael J. Lilly, Berg Lilly, PC, Bozeman, Montana
McGrath Chief Justice
Trademark Woodworks, LLC, appeals from an April 3, 2018
judgment of the Fifth Judicial District Court. The District
Court held that the contract between the Jorgensens and
Trademark Woodworks, LLC, had been rescinded and awarded the
Jorgensens damages and attorney's fees. We affirm.
We restate the issues on appeal as follows:
Issue One: Did the District Court commit clear error when
it found that the agreement had been rescinded?
Issue Two: Did the District Court abuse its discretion by
awarding attorney's fees to the Jorgensens?
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
In September 2015, Tim and Kiri Jorgensen ("the
Jorgensens") entered into a contract ("the
Agreement") with Trademark Woodworks, LLC
("Trademark") for the construction of a home near
Wisdom, Montana. The Agreement provided that Trademark would
supply the labor and materials for the framing, roofing, and
siding of the home.
Nathan Judd ("Judd"), a primary owner of Trademark
and a contractor, is an acquaintance of the Jorgensens and
submitted a bid on behalf of Trademark to acquire the job.
The Agreement was silent as to who would assume the role of
general contractor. Both parties believed this role would
fall to the Jorgensens, as Tim Jorgensen was an experienced
contractor and Trademark was contracted for only specific
aspects of the construction.
Early on, the relationship between Judd and the Jorgensens
began to deteriorate. Judd felt that the Jorgensens were
causing unnecessary delays in the project and that he was
being forced to "assum[e] a role left vacant" by
the Jorgensens, whom he expected would act as the general
contractors on the site. The Jorgensens dispute that Judd was
acting as general contractor and assert that Judd was
responsible only for his subcontractors in accordance with
the Agreement. The Jorgensens also maintain that Judd failed
to adequately perform his obligations under the contract and
charged excessively for his work.
On September 28, 2015, after a series of disagreements and
miscommunications, Judd sent the Jorgensens an email:
"If you feel like your [sic] being taken advantage of,
mislead, or mistreated I apologize. I'll be happy to
finish the framing phase and turn the reigns [sic] over if
you'd like. Please let me know on how you'd like us
In her response, Kiri inquired about Judd's on-site work
schedule for the upcoming weeks and asked him to clarify
exactly what he considered the "framing phase" of
the job to entail. Judd responded: "The framing phase
would be the erection of the structure. Myself and/or my crew