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Goldman v. Gagnard

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

June 27, 2014

SUSAN GOLDMAN, Trustee of Goldman Living Trust U/A/D December 19, 2000, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
JAMES R. GAGNARD and MICHELLE GAGNARD, Defendants-Appellees

Argued February 18, 2014 

Page 576

Petition for certiorari filed at, 09/25/2014

Appeals from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 1:11-cv-08843 -- John W. Darrah, Judge.

For SUSAN GOLDMAN, Trustee of Goldman Living Trust U/A/D December 19, 2000, Plaintiff - Appellee (12-2706, 13-2045): Terence G. Banich, Attorney, Shaw Gussis Fishman Glantz Wolfson & Towbin Llc, Chicago, IL.

For James R. Gagnard, Michelle Gagnard, Defendants - Appellants (12-2706): David A. Epstein, Attorney, Brown, Udell, Pomerantz & Delrahim, Ltd., Chicago, IL.

For James R. Gagnard, Defendant - Appellant (13-2045): David A. Epstein, Attorney, Brown, Udell, Pomerantz & Delrahim, Ltd., Chicago, IL.

Before ROVNER, WILLIAMS, and TINDER, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 577

Tinder, Circuit Judge 

This case comes to us with a byzantine procedural history, with a certain Jarndyce v. Jarndyce, Dickensian flavor. The litigation has spanned ten years and involves numerous parties, as well as several interlinked proceedings in different tribunals. But the main question underlying the appeal is clear: can a party wait indefinitely to try to correct an error by a tribunal, or is it required to do so in a timely manner? We draw upon common-sense principles of waiver and estoppel to conclude that the Defendant-Appellants are long past the logical point at which they could have moved to correct the alleged error by a California state court in interpreting the arbitral award.

I

Defendant-Appellants James and Michelle Gagnard built a house in Los Altos, California, then sold the home to Plaintiff-Appellee Susan Goldman in January of 2004. What could have been a simple transaction actually spawned five separate judicial proceedings over ten years, owing to water leaks that sprang in the house and patio, causing extensive property damage. Over the past ten years, Goldman has sued the Gagnards and the cast of characters involved with the construction and sale of the house in varying permutations and in different tribunals. The course of these proceedings is important to the disposition of this case, so we summarize them at some length.

1. Contractors' action in California state court

Goldman first filed a civil action in California state court against the general contractor and subcontractors who built the property for the Gagnards. During the contractors' action, Goldman discovered that the Gagnards had knowledge of the water leak problems prior to the 2004 sale. Goldman elected not to bring the claims against the Gagnards in this action because of the arbitration clause governing the sales contract (more on that soon). Instead, Goldman settled her suit with the contractors for approximately $1.9 million in ...


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