Bob Alpert Wins Twice in Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has recently ruled in favor of one of Attorney Bob Alpert’s clients for a second time. Attorney Alpert’s client was a general contractor in the construction of a new high school for a local school district. As required by the construction contract, the contractor secured and paid for a building permit from the local borough, paying a fee of 1% of the construction price. Attorney Alpert’s client challenged the building permit fee as excessive. Attorney Alpert won at the trial court. Upon appeal, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled in favor of the contractor and held that excessive building permit fees are invalid and ordered that the fees be refunded to the contractor.
At that point, the school district sued, claiming that it was entitled to the refunded fees since the fees were part of the lump sum contract price paid by the school district for the project. The school district claimed that the contractor would be unjustly enriched. The trial court ruled in favor of Alpert’s client. On appeal, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court again ruled in favor of the contractor and held that the theory of unjust enrichment did not apply where a written contract defined the rights and obligations of the parties. The Supreme Court ruled that the contractor was entitled to retain the fees because the contract did not require the contractor to return any cost savings to the school district.