Fort Lauderdale Breach of Contract Lawyer
Most business relationships are rooted in a business contract. An operating agreement may involve clients, customers, vendors, suppliers, landlords, or real estate investors. In an ideal situation, an agreement is reached between two parties, and each party upholds their respective ends of the deal throughout the contract’s duration. However, disputes do arise that ultimately result in the breach of contract. If you are the party to a breached contract, and if said breach resulted in financial or other type of harm, reach out to the Fort Lauderdale breach of contract lawyers at the office of Edward J. Jennings, P.A., to discuss legal remedies today.
What is Considered a Breach of Contract?
When two parties enter into a business contract, both are legally obligated to uphold certain obligations that have been outlined to them. A breach of contract occurs when either party fails to perform any promise outlined in the agreement. In some cases, a breach is intentional, but in others, such as when provisions outlined in a contract are not crystal clear or are orally modified, a violation may simply be the result of a misunderstanding. In cases in which the agreement is never put in writing, interpretation becomes even more unclear. Whatever the case, the violation of a contract can result in a breach of contract suit. When reviewing a case for a breach of contract, an lawyer will determine the following:
- Whether the promise in question was required by the contract;
- Whether the party in question is in breach of the contract;
- The extent to which the contract was breached; and
- Whether or not the performance was excused.
Material vs. Non-Material Breach
A breach of contract may be classified as either material or non-material (or minor), depending on the severity of the breach.
A non-material breach occurs when the violation pertains to a minor detail of the contract. For instance, say a plumber agrees to do work on a homeowner’s drain and vent lines. The contract specifies that he or she will use PVC pipe, which is designed for drain and vent lines but instead, he or she uses ABS, which is also made for drain and vent lines. The only real difference in materials is color; PVC is white and ABS is black. The plumbing is not visible to the homeowner and does not impact the performance of the lines. This would be considered a non-material breach, in which case the injured party would only be entitled to damages incurred, and the two parties would continue performing the obligations outlined in the contract.
A material breach occurs when one or both parties fail to perform a major part of the contract, and when said breach makes it impossible to carry out the remainder of the contract. For instance, say that the agreement between the plumber and homeowner specified that the plumber would use rigid copper piping because of its durability and safety benefits. To save money, the plumber used PVC instead, which is prone to leaks and carries certain health risks. This would be considered a material breach because the deficiency in performance of the agreement goes to the performance, safety, and durability of the plumbing system itself, or the “heart of the matter,” so to speak. If the breach is classified as material, the contract may be dissolved, and the injured party can sue for damages for total breach of contract.
Remedies for a Breach of Contract
Remedies for a breach of contract may include money damages, specific performance, rescission, and restitution. The most common remedy for a breach is payment of damages, which may be broken down as follows:
- Compensatory damages, which are awarded to put the non-breaching party in the position they would have been in had the breach not occurred;
- Punitive damages, which are damages paid beyond what would compensate the non-breaching party as a means of punishing the breaching party;
- Nominal damages, which are paid to the non-breaching party when no money loss was proven; and
- Liquidated Damages, which are a set of damages previously agreed upon between the two parties in the case of a breach.
Specific performance is the court-ordered duty of the breaching party to perform a duty. This is usually used when money damages are not sufficient to put the non-breaching party in an equal position as if the breach had not occurred.
Sometimes a contract may be canceled, and the non-breaching party can sue for restitution, where the non-breaching party is put back in their pre-breach position.
Retain the Help of a Fort Lauderdale Breach of Contract Lawyer
If you have recently been involved in a dispute regarding a business contract, the best thing you can do is to seek legal counsel. The breach of contract lawyers at the office of Edward J. Jennings, P.A. are well versed in the interpretation, enforcement, and challenging of business contracts. Whichever course of action you choose, our team can walk you through the process and advise you along the way.