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CNA International Reinsurance Co. v. Phoenix

Citation. CNA International Reinsurance Co. v. Phoenix, 678 So. 2d 378 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1996)
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Brief Fact Summary.

Arlyn, the representative of River Phoenix’s (Phoenix) estate, raised the impracticability defense when Phoenix’s death prevented his performance under an acting contract. 

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

A personal services contract becomes impracticable if the person obligated to perform dies. 


CNA International Reinsurance Company, Ltd. (CNA) issued insurance policies to cover River Phoenix (Phoenix), an actor’s, performance in two films. CNA sued Arlyn, the representative of Phoenix’s estate, because Phoenix died from a drug overdose, preventing his performance in the films under the contract. Arlyn filed a motion to dismiss because Phoenix’s death made it impossible for Phoenix to perform under the contract. The trial court granted the motion to dismiss and CNA appealed. 


Whether a personal services contract becomes impracticable if the person obligated to perform dies?


Yes. The contract did not address particular behavior such as illicit drug use, therefore Phoenix cannot perform under the contract due to his death. 


A person is not required to perform a contract where it becomes impracticable due to a condition that prevents that person from fulfilling the contract. The death of a party obligated to perform under a contract renders the contract impracticable. 

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