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Studley v. Biehl

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Tenth District

June 12, 2018

Roger Studley, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Zachary Biehl, Defendant-Appellee.

          APPEAL from the Franklin County Municipal Court, No. 2017 CVI 13752 Small Claims Division

          On brief: Roger Studley, pro se.

          Argued: Roger Studley.

          DECISION

          BRUNNER, J.

         {¶ 1} Plaintiff-appellant, Roger Studley, appeals from a judgment of the Franklin County Municipal Court, Small Claims Division, entered on December 7, 2017 in favor of defendant-appellee, Zachary Biehl, on a counterclaim in the amount of $6, 000 plus costs and interests. For the following reasons, we affirm the trial court's decision.

         I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         {¶ 2} This matter arose in connection with a home renovation contract dispute. In January 2016, Studley and his wife, Margaret Studley, entered into a general contractor agreement with Zachary Biehl/Z1 Construction for certain renovations to a home they owned at 4105 Fenwick Road, Upper Arlington, Ohio ("the home"). The record indicates that the relationship between the Studleys and Biehl deteriorated to the point that Biehl ceased all work on the home. Biehl had left tools/equipment at the Studleys' home at the time he ceased working on it.

          {¶ 3} On April 25, 2017, Studley filed a complaint against Biehl in the Small Claims Division of the Franklin County Municipal Court. Studley alleged that Biehl had failed to complete the renovation in a timely fashion. Studley sought judgment against Biehl in the amount of $6, 000 for appliances Studley had paid for but had not received, kitchens cabinets that had been removed from the home, and work that Biehl had not performed.

         {¶ 4} On May 30, 2017, Biehl filed a counterclaim against Studley alleging that Studley had breached the contract, including failing to pay the entire amount owed to Biehl for services rendered. Biehl further alleged that Studley was illegally withholding Biehl's equipment. Biehl sought judgment against Studley in the amount of $6, 000.

         {¶ 5} On August 29, 2017, the parties' competing claims were heard by a magistrate of the Small Claims Division for trial. Studley appeared and represented himself. Biehl appeared and was represented by counsel. On December 5, 2017, the magistrate issued a written decision, including findings of facts and conclusions of law. Based on the testimony and evidence presented, the magistrate found that Studley had failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence a right to recover against Biehl and that Biehl did not owe Studley any money. The magistrate also found that Biehl had proved his counterclaim by a preponderance of the evidence. The magistrate stated:

There is unrefuted testimony regarding [Studley's] failure to return all of the equipment owned by [Biehl]. The stated value of this property is $2, 000.00 and [Biehl] is entitled to said amount.
As to amount still owed to [Biehl], the Court finds that the amount is $15, 859.55. [Biehl] has submitted to the jurisdiction of this Court and is requesting a total of $6, 000.00.
Judgment for [Biehl] on counterclaim in the amount of $6, 000.00, plus costs and interest from ...

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