Riverbend Community, LLC, et al. v. Green Stone Engineering, LLC, et al.Annotate this Case
Riverbend Community, LLC and Parkway Gravel, Inc. jointly owned a parcel of land (the Property), which they intended to develop into residential real estate. Before purchasing the Property, Riverbend and Green Stone Engineering, LLC signed a August 2005 Contract, which required Green Stone to perform four tasks: (1) Site Evaluation and Regulatory Review, (2) Wetlands Restoration Conceptual Design, (3) Wetland Enhancement Conceptual Layout, and (4) Regulatory Meetings and Presentation. In March 2006, the parties signed a second contract which required Green Stone to provide design services for the site and roadways, the stormwater collection and conveyance systems, the sanitary sewer system, the water supply piping system, the stormwater management plans, the sediment and erosion control plans, and the landscape plans. Green Stone left the project in late 2007. Riverbend hired a new engineering firm to complete the work, but the new firm needed Green Stone's work product. Green Stone would not release its work product unless Riverbend executed a release. In 2009, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued two Cease and Desist Letters against Riverbend because of the work in the wetlands. Meanwhile, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control filed a complaint against Riverbend too. As a result of the federal and state issues, Riverbend could not sell houses, and its lender foreclosed on and purchased the Property at a sheriff's sale in April 2012. Riverbend sued Green Stone for breach of contract, professional negligence, and simple negligence. Green Stone moved for summary judgment on the grounds that the economic loss doctrine barred the tort claims and the general release barred all claims. The trial judge granted the motion, and Riverbend appealed. Upon review, the Supreme Court interpreted the release as a general release, and did not address the application of the economic loss doctrine. Because the Court found the release was a general release that unambiguously waived all claims, the Court affirmed the grant of summary judgment below on both the tort and contract claims.