Fellerman & Ciarimboli deals with many commercial litigation cases. Some of the most complex among them are breach of contract lawsuits. Our breach of contract lawyers serves many Pennsylvanians who have trouble related to another party’s failure to carry out the terms of a contract.
What Is a Breach of Contract?
A breach of contract is a failure to fulfill the duties under the contract terms. A contract can be breached in the following ways:
- One party does not perform as he/she agreed
- One party does something that makes it impossible for the other party to perform the duties under the contract
- One party makes it clear that he/she does not intend to perform their contractual duties
Oral vs. Written Contracts
Generally, both written and oral (spoken) contracts are legally enforceable; however, there are certain contracts that must be in writing to be deemed legally enforceable. The best way to protect your rights when contracting with another is to either: memorialize the parties’ respective understandings in writing; or contact a lawyer to have a formal contract prepared.
Three Components to a Breach of Contract Lawsuit
- A valid contract must be present; whether oral or legal, must have some method of enforcement
- Material violation of contract terms; more than minor infraction or shortcoming
- Damages or losses must be proved with reasonable certainty; not always monetary losses
Examples of Breach of Contract
- Failure to complete a contracted job
- Failure to deliver goods
- Failure to pay in full
- Providing lesser quality or significantly different goods or services
What Remedies are Available in a Breach of Contract Action?
When one party breaches a contract, the party who has performed his or her obligations under the contract has the right to pursue various remedies for the other party’s breach including monetary damages and/or equitable relief.
One of the most common questions with respect to available remedies in a breach of contract action is whether or not the non-breaching party is entitled to monetary damages. The simple answer is yes. In many situations, the breaching party will be required to compensate the non-breaching party for losses and other expenses connected with the breach in one or more of the following ways:
- Consequential damages – This requires the breaching party to pay the non-breaching party an amount that puts them in the same position they would have been in if the contract was performed
- Nominal damages – This is a minimal amount provided to the non-breaching party if that party won the case but is unable to show a significant financial loss
- Liquidated damages – In certain situations, where the parties agree at the time they enter into the contract, that if one party breaches any term of the contract, the breaching party should pay a specified sum which is referenced in the contract and can include the non-breaching party’s attorney fees in enforcing the contract
- Punitive damages – Although rare, courts can force the breaching party to make a payment as a punishment for the breach of contract
Can The Non-breaching Party Also Pursue an Equitable Remedy?
In some breach of contract claims, monetary damages are simply not appropriate, or may not be allowed under law. In such cases, the court may order an “equitable remedy” which generally requires the breaching party to take certain actions consistent with the agreed upon terms of the contract or otherwise resolve the dispute. Common equitable remedies include:
- Specific performance – In unique circumstances, a court will require the breaching party to perform their duties under the contract
- Rescission – Courts may act as though the contract never existed. In this situation, neither party would be required to perform the obligations under the contract, and where there has been performance by one party, the court does its best to put that party in the same position he or she was in before the contract was formed
- Contract Reformation – The contract in question is canceled; parties write a new contract
The Time Limit for Filing a Breach of Contract Claim
Every state provides for a period of time within which a claim must be made, commonly referred to as a statute of limitations. If you wish to pursue a breach of contract claim and do not file within this specified time frame, you cannot file a lawsuit. Contract law can be complicated, and filing procedures and deadlines for breach of contract claims can be confusing. If you are involved in a contract dispute, let the lawyers at Fellerman & Ciarimboli help you resolve your dispute.
Contact Fellerman & Ciarimboli Law Firm
We are eager to help those who have been negatively affected by a breach of contract. Our Pennsylvania breach of contract attorneys have had experience with commercial litigation and legal disputes of this type and will work for the best possible outcome for our clients. Time is of the essence with these types of cases and the sooner you take action, the better your results may be. If a contract in which you are a party has been breached by another, do not hesitate to contact us.