Breach of Contract Suits
Our law firm engages in transactional and litigation, specifically, but not limited to, breach of contract suits. In addition to preparing, negotiating, and reviewing agreements, we are dedicated to protecting the rights of individuals and businesses.
Generally, a contract is a legally binding agreement between two parties. A well-drafted contract clearly defines all the relevant terms and conditions and sets forth the rights and obligations of each party. Even if the written agreement is concise, modern contracts often have multiple pages. A dispute may arise when one of the parties does not perform the duties as specified or makes it impossible for the other party to perform his or her duties under the contract. When this occurs, either party may file suit for breach of contract, generally claiming that the defendant’s act or failure to act caused the plaintiff harm. In most cases, the injury involves financial loss. Today, even the most basic contracts anticipate disputes and make provisions for their resolution.
The following topics are common in breach of contract lawsuits:
- Covenant not to compete
- Non-disclosure or Confidentiality agreement
- Intellectual property rights
- Mortgage acceleration clause
- Assignment or Transfer of rights
- Modification or Merger of agreements
- Best efforts or Substantial performance
- General or Limited release of liability
- Arbitration or Mediation
- Choice of law or Venue
- General or limited warranty
The first issue to resolve in a breach of contract case is whether there was an enforceable agreement. In order to be valid, there must have been an offer of goods or services, an acceptance of the offer, and consideration or a bargained-for exchange. Both parties must have had the capacity and intent to enter into the agreement and render performance under its terms. If the contract is valid, courts can then examine the contract to determine if a breach has occurred. In order to prove breach, plaintiffs must show they performed all their duties under the contract and suffered damages caused by defendant’s breach. Courts may “strictly construe” clear and unambiguous terms requiring specific performance and other clauses remain open to interpretation.
The intent and behavior of the parties will determine whether full or substantial performance is required. The judge can either enforce the literal meaning of the clause or “read into it” to decide what conduct would be “reasonable.” There is a marked difference, for example, between breaking a clear promise to protect trade secrets and feeling dissatisfied with the quality of one’s work. There may also be details that are not clearly defined in the contract, requiring further evidence to determine if there was an actual breach. In many cases, an intervening act prevents parties from fulfilling the terms of the contract or excuses their nonperformance. Filing for bankruptcy, for example, gives debtors a reprieve from creditors, who are then diverted to bankruptcy court.
Successful claimants who win breach of contract cases are entitled to several forms of damages. This refers to monetary compensation awarded to the aggrieved party for losses and expenses incurred by the breach. Consequential damages restore non-breaching parties to the “same position” they would have been in had the contract been performed. Liquidated damages refer to a specified sum for breach specified in the contract. Nominal damages are awarded to non-breaching parties that did not suffer serious financial loss. In addition to these “legal” damages, courts may also award “equitable remedies” that require the parties to take or refrain from taking certain action to resolve the dispute. Generally, courts may require “specific performance” of the breaching party’s duties under the contract. They may also “rescind” the contract, eliminating both parties’ duties and obligations.
If you were harmed by a breach of contract, the experienced Beverly Hills breach of contract lawyers at the Law Offices of Salar Atrizadeh can help. We are industry leaders in business and transactional law. Our firm has successfully handled all types of breach of contract disputes, recovering substantial verdicts and settlements for clients across California. In addition to advocating for your best interests, we also provide comprehensive legal counsel in preparing, negotiating, and reviewing contracts. Whether you need to conduct a real estate transaction, file for bankruptcy, or protect your intellectual property rights, we have the resources and expertise to help.