AL FR O M T HE SE B ASTIAN COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, FORT SMITH
DISTRICT [NO. 66FCV-17-285] HONORABLE STEPHEN TABOR, JUDGE
& Jones, P.A., by: Michael R. Jones, for appellant.
Walters, Gaston, Allison & Parker, by: Derick Allison,
LARRYD. VAUGHT, Judge
City of Fort Smith (the City) appeals the Sebastian County
Circuit Court's entry of judgment against it for breach
of contract in favor of B & A Electric, Inc.; Megehee
Fence Contracting, LLC; Grimes Dozer Service, Inc.; and James
Griffith (the contractors), who were hired by River Valley
Sports Complex (RVSC) to construct a sports complex on
City-owned land. We dismiss this appeal without prejudice for
lack of a final order.
City and RVSC entered into a written contract in March 2014
for the construction of a sports complex on City-owned land
after RVSC principals Jake Files and Lee Webb presented the
project to the city board. The City agreed to contribute up
to $1.6 million in amounts payable when construction reached
specific milestones. RVSC solicited donations to cover the
remaining costs of the project. The contract required RVSC to
complete the project by June 10, 2015, but stated that after
construction was complete, the City would lease the complex
back to RVSC for ten years.
began work on the project in 2014, and it hired the four
appellees as contractors to provide materials and services.
By the scheduled completion date, however, RVSC had not
substantially completed the work. Work continued into 2016 as
a result of two negotiated extensions granted by the City.
The City paid RVSC over $1.08 million, but in early 2017,
RVSC permanently ceased working on the project after having
failed to meet the second deadline extension. When RVSC
abandoned the project, it owed all four contractors payment
for work and materials they had already provided. The
contractors sought payment from RVSC, but RVSC did not have
sufficient funds to pay. The contractors then sued the City
for breach of contract and unjust enrichment. The City filed
a third-party complaint against RVSC for breach of contract
and contractual indemnity.
case went to trial before a jury. After the close of the
contractors' case, the City moved for directed verdict on
both claims. The court denied the motion. At the close of all
evidence, the City renewed its motion, which the court again
denied. The jury returned verdicts in favor of the
contractors for the full amount of their requested damages on
both their breach-of-contract claims and their
unjust-enrichment claims. The jury found in favor of RVSC on
the City's third-party claims. The parties agreed that
the jury's verdicts granting relief to the contractors on
their breach-of-contract claims and unjust-enrichment claims
were incompatible, and with the consent of the parties, the
court entered judgment against the City on only the
contractors' breach-of-contract claims.
court's order, which erroneously stated that it had
granted a directed verdict in favor of RVSC and had dismissed
the third-party complaint against it, went on to enter
judgment against the City on the contractors' contract
claims. The order does not address the unjust-enrichment
dismiss this appeal without prejudice for lack of a final and
appealable order. The court's judgment does not mention
or dispose of the contractors' unjust-enrichment claims.
The City acknowledges in its brief that "there
is-strictly speaking-no final judgment on the unjust
enrichment claims to appeal." Moreover, both parties
argue the merits of the unjust-enrichment claims.
Arkansas Supreme Court has repeatedly held that pursuant to
Rule 54(b) of the Arkansas Rules of Civil Procedure, an order
is not final that adjudicates fewer than all the claims or
the rights and liabilities of fewer than all the parties.
Bulsara v. Watkins, 2010 Ark. 453, at 5. In
Bulsara, the jury found in favor of the defendant,
Dr. Watkins, and the court entered judgment dismissing with
prejudice Bulsara's claim against Dr. Watkins, but the
court's judgment failed to address Dr. Watkins's
cross-claim against third-party defendant, St. Vincent
Doctor's Hospital. The Arkansas Supreme Court dismissed
the appeal without prejudice due to lack of a final order,
citing Rule 2(a)(1) of the Arkansas Rules of Appellate
Procedure-Civil, which provides that an appeal may be taken
only from a final judgment or decree entered by the trial
court. Id. at 5. Consequently, we lack jurisdiction
to decide the merits of the present case because the order
being appealed failed to dispose of the contractors'
Switzer and ...