Breach of Contract Attorney in Louisville
When you enter into an agreement with another party all transactions that take place between you and the other party rely on some sort of contract to operate. This contract can be verbal, written, or even implied. Contracts outline the responsibilities and duties of each party involved in the contract, and are essential to fair and sound business practices.
Unfortunately, while contracts may exist that legally bind a party to do something, the stipulations of a contract are not always adhered to. When this occurs, one party has breached the contract. If the breach of contract results in losses to the other party, a civil action may be brought.
At the law offices of John H. Ruby & Associates in Kentucky, our breach of contract attorneys are committed to helping you resolve breach of contract disputes, and seek civil damages when a breach of contract has occurred. We have negotiation and litigation experience, and are skilled lawyers who care about the outcomes of our clients’ cases.
What Is a Breach of Contract?
As explained by the Judicial Education Center, a breach of contract is “a failure, without legal excuse, to perform any promise that forms all or part of the contract.” There are four standard breach of contract types: material, minor, fundamental, and anticipatory.
- Material breach of contract. When a material breach of contract occurs, it is because the breaching party’s conduct results in the other party receiving something that is very different from what was originally specified and expected. For example, if a customer orders a box of 100 apples in exchange for $20, and receives 100 oranges instead, a material breach of contract has occurred.
- Minor breach of contract. A breach of contract is considered minor if one party still receives what was expected and stipulated by the contract, even though some aspect of the contract is violated. For example, consider the situation above, in which a customer orders 100 apples for $20, and requests that they are delivered Monday morning by 9:00 a.m., and this stipulation is specified. While the 100 apples arrive in good condition by Monday, they don’t get delivered until 4:00 in the afternoon.
- Fundamental breach of contract. When a breach of a part of contract occurs that is so integral to the intent of the contract that the purpose of the contract is negated or another party to the contract is prevented from performing their part of the contract as such, the breach is considered fundamental. When a breach is fundamental, the distressed party is allowed to automatically terminate the contract, and seek damages as such.
- Anticipatory breach of contract. If one party to a contract indicates that it is not going to fulfill its contractual obligations, the other party can claim breach of contract, even if the contract has not actually been breached yet. For example, you agree to perform work for another party on January 1, and the other party agrees to pay you for that work on January 3. You anticipate the work will take about five hours, and start it on the morning of the first. About an hour in, the party announces that they will be unable to pay you for your work. Even though it is not yet the third, and as such payment is not yet due, an anticipatory breach of contract has occurred, and you would be under no obligation to continue performing your work.
Damages Recoverable When Breach of Contract Occurs
If a breach of contract occurs, you can seek remedies as a result. Seeking remedies is something that you do through the civil law, not the criminal law, system. There are three primary types of remedies that are permitted:
- Damages. The most common type of remedy in a civil breach of contract case is the payment of damages. Damages refer to payment for actual losses or expected losses sustained by the distressed party (plaintiff). For example, if you paid $20 to receive apples but were instead given oranges, you could seek monetary damages for the cost of the apples/oranges ($20), plus any damages that you sustained as a result of being given oranges instead of apples. While punitive damages are available in many other civil actions in Kentucky, Kentucky Statute Section 411.184 (4) specifically states that punitive damages are not available in breach of contract cases.
- Specific performance. Another type of remedy that a plaintiff in a breach of contract case may seek is called specific performance, in which the plaintiff demands that the breach of contract case be remedied by a specific performance of the defendant, such as delivering the 100 apples, plus 20 more. Specific performance as a legal remedy is less common, but is used in situations where the breach or damages sustained are unique.
- Cancellation and restitution. Finally, the last type of remedy when a breach of contract occurs is called cancellation and restitution. This means that the contract is cancelled, and the remedy-seeking party is restored to the same position they were in prior to the breach of contract. For example, in a buy-sell agreement, the agreement may be cancelled, and the buyer restored to their original position (released from the contract and given their earnest money back) in the event that a seller breaches a stipulation of the contract, such as a duty to repair something specified by the buyer.
What to Do When You Have a Contract Dispute
If a contract dispute occurs and you believe that the other party has breached or plans to breach a contract that you have entered, expressing your concern is one of the first things to do. Often, a breach of contract or potential breach of contract is just a misunderstanding, and can resolved after a conversation.
When a contract dispute is more serious, however, working with an attorney is strongly advised. An attorney can help you and the other party negotiate a fair remedy to a contract dispute, and can also litigate on your behalf if an out-of-court agreement cannot be reached.
When you enter a contract, both you and the other party have a legal responsibility to perform any duties as specified by the contract. If a contract is breached, you can seek remedies for harm you have suffered.
Our breach of contract attorneys at the Kentucky law offices of John H. Ruby & Associates have the experience and skill set you’re looking for. To learn more, please contact us today for a free consultation. You can visit us in person, send us an online message, or call us at 502-895-2626.