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Menorah Chapels at Millburn v. Needle

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Needle refused to pay Menorah Chapels at Milburn when they did not provide the Orthodox Jewish services advertised and Menorah Chapels subsequently sued Needle for breach of contract.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    A party may not repudiate one part of a nondivisible contract but still benefit from the remainder of the contract.

    Facts.

    Needle contracted with Chapels of Milburn (Menorah Chapels) to conduct a funeral for his deceased father-in-law. Menorah Chapels advertised to prove customary Orthodox Jewish services including providing a shomerim for the deceased throughout the Sabbath. When this did not occur for Needle’s father-in-law, Needle did not pay Menorah Chapels and Menorah Chapels subsequently sued Needle for breach of contract. Needle appealed when the trial court granted summary judgment to Menorah Chapels.

    Issue.

    Whether a party may repudiate one part of a nondivisible contract but still benefit from the remainder of the contract?

    Held.

    No. The trial court’s judgment is reversed and remanded. Needle did not receive the full performance bargained for in the contract because Menorah Chapels failed to provide a shomerim for the full contract period. Because the contract was not severable, Menorah may be able to recover an amount for the services provided, but not the full unit price.

    Discussion.

    A party may only repudiate one part of a contract while benefitting from others if the contract is severable. Allowing a party to benefit from part of an indivisible contract while repudiating another part of the contract would cause unjust enrichment.


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