David J. Welder and Paul A. Breer recently won a $500,000 judgment and an award of attorneys’ fees and costs on behalf of their client in a breach of contract case in Johnson County, Kansas. In January 2019, their client entered into a real estate contract to sell a 3 million dollar home located in Leawood, Kansas with an individual purporting to have ties to the widely-known Standard Oil Trust. In fact, the individual entered into the real estate contract on behalf of an entity called the “Standard Oil Trust” and represented that he was in the oil drilling business with an office in Texas. Pursuant to the fully executed contract, a $500,000 earnest payment was to be delivered to the escrow agent within 5 days, but it never came and the individual did not take possession of the home.
On May 9, 2019, Mr. Welder and Mr. Breer brought suit against the individual and his company, Standard Oil Trust, for breach of contract in the amount of $500,000 plus attorneys’ fees. Both the individual and Standard Oil Trust failed to answer the petition and a motion for default judgment was granted by Judge James Vano. It then became even more apparent that the defendants did not have any relation to the widely-known Standard Oil Trust.
On December 10, 2019, Judge Vano scheduled an evidentiary hearing to determine the amount of damages from defendants’ breach of the contract. The COVID-19 pandemic hit in the meantime and the evidentiary hearing was consequently delayed. Finally, on June 25, 2020, the evidentiary hearing was conducted by video conference, where Mr. Breer put on evidence showing that the defendants were liable for $500,000 pursuant to the liquidated damages provision in the contract.
After hearing testimony from the client and cross-examination of the defendants by Mr. Breer, Judge Vano found that the liquidated damages provision was enforceable and not void as a penalty provision. Judge Vano ruled that the defendants were liable in the amount of $500,000 in addition to the full amount of attorneys’ fees and costs in bringing the suit.