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Roth v. Speck

    Brief Fact Summary. This case involves a breach of employment contract where the employer could not find a suitable replacement for the breaching employee.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. The value of an employee’s services may be an appropriate measure of damages resulting from breach of an employment contract, so long as these damages can accurately be proved.

    Facts. The Plaintiff owned a hair salon and hired the Defendant for a term of one year. Under the terms of the employment contract, the Defendant was to be paid the greater of either $75 a week or a commission of fifty percent on the gross receipts of his work. After six and a half months, the Defendant quit. The Plaintiff hired a replacement employee who he paid $350. However, this employee was not profitable and therefore he was let go. A second replacement also failed to earn his salary and was employed at a loss to the Plaintiff. At the trial court, the Plaintiff testified that the Defendant was a very good hairdresser and that he earned $100 per week. The lower court found for the Plaintiff, but only awarded nominal damages in the amount of one dollar.

    Issue. Is the value of an employee’s services an appropriate measure of damages in a breach of employment contract case?

    Held. Yes. Judgment regarding amount of damages awarded was reversed.
    Where a plaintiff proves a breach of contract he is entitled to damages. However, when he offers vague proof or no proof of actual damages, he is entitled only to nominal damages.
    In the instant case, there was proof of accurate damages with regard to the value of the Defendant’s services.

    Discussion. The court reasoned that the Plaintiff did prove actual damages by proving the amount in salary the Defendant received each week. Moreover, the Defendant did not disprove that this was not an accurate measure of his fair value, as was his bu


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