The storms of 2013 made a mess in the Sunshine Coast and Wide Bay, where Energex personnel worked to free powerlines from a fallen tree in Gympie.
The storms of 2013 made a mess in the Sunshine Coast and Wide Bay, where Energex personnel worked to free powerlines from a fallen tree in Gympie. Tanya Easterby

Storm repair work battle became a legal tempest

A BUILDING boss who claimed he was short-changed more than half a million dollars when storm damage disrupted a business deal has partially won an appeal.

Ian Price claimed Australian Building Insurance Services was to pay $600,000 for the sale of Building & Insurance Repair Services QLD but had only paid $50,000.

Bruce Carrigan, director of ABIS, counter-claimed, arguing Mr Price had made false representations to major client CGU Insurance and he lost business for several months.

The newly acquired business specialised in insurance claims for building damage with a big chunk of the work coming from insurance companies.

The dispute before Queensland Court of Appeal partly relates to lucrative repair jobs after devastating Sunshine Coast and Wide Bay storms in 2013.

During the original trial, Brisbane Supreme Court heard CGU continued sending payments to Mr Price, at Price Constructions, for about four months after the business sale even though Mr Carrigan did the work.

Mr Carrigan said Price Constructions did not forward that $380,000 for work in progress to him when he was entitled to it.

He also argued his new company lost profit and goodwill it would have earned if CGU had not allocated repair contracts away from it.

ABIS blamed "interventions” from Mr Price for diverting this work.

"Two major storm events occurred in the Sunshine Coast and Wide Bay regions in November 2013,” Justice Robert Gotterson said in a judgment handed down on Tuesday.

"The property damage ... would have led to profitable repair contracts with CGU.”

IW & CA Price Constructions, Mr Price's company, claimed $668,223.87 including interest on unpaid instalments for the business sale.

ABIS said lost profits exceeded half a million dollars, and claimed $213,586 lost goodwill.

These claims dwarfed the unpaid purchase price, the appeal court said.

In March, supreme court Justice Ann Lyons found recoverable lost profits for ABIS were $598,675.

She said ABIS suffered lost goodwill of $95,000.

When IW and CA Price Constructions appealed that judgment, the company argued it was wrong to blame Mr Price for lost goodwill.

Lawyers said even if Mr Price disrupted repair work, that was only briefly - and damages awarded for profit loss made up for that anyway.

Justice Gotterson accepted there was no evidence Mr Price's conduct had caused long-running loss of goodwill.

He threw out the supreme court's goodwill ruling.

But Justice Gotterson decided $598,675 remained the amount of lost profit from storm-related work ABIS missed.

Parties have seven days to make submissions about costs. - NewsRegional



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