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Gill v. Johnstown Lumber Co

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    Bloomberg Law

    Brief Fact Summary. The Plaintiff, John Gill (Plaintiff), agreed to drive logs for the Defendant, Johnstown Lumber Co. (Defendant). After a flood carried many of the logs away, the Plaintiff sued to recover money owed under the contract.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. A contract is severable if one party’s performance consists of several distinct items and the price to be paid is apportioned to each item to be performed.

    Facts. The Plaintiff agreed to drive logs for the Defendant. Subsequently, a flood carried a considerable proportion of the logs past the Defendant’s boom. The Plaintiff sued to recover for logs that he had already driven, on the theory that the contract was severable.

    Issue. Is the contract at issue severable?

    Held. Yes. A contract is severable if one party’s performance consists of several distinct items, and the price to be paid is apportioned to each item to be performed. In the present case, the work to be done by the Plaintiff consisted of driving several items, namely logs, and the consideration was not to be paid in an entire sum, but rather at a contracted rate per feet. Therefore, the contract is severable.

    Discussion. If a party’s performance consists of several distinct items and the price is to be apportioned to each item, the contract is severable.


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