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Curtice Brothers Co. v. Catts

    Brief Fact Summary. Defendant breached his contract to sell all the tomatoes produced from certain tracks of land, to Plaintiff. Plaintiff sued for specific performance

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. When there are circumstances when money damages would not compensate the injured party in a breach of contract action, the court may order specific performance even if the goods or services involved were not unique.

    Facts. Plaintiff has a tomato-canning factory. Defendant made a contract with Plaintiff to sell Plaintiff tomatoes. Plaintiff’s factory has a six-week season to pack tomatoes, and it uses the time before that season to prepare for the packing season by hiring personnel and purchasing supplies based on the number of tomatoes they anticipate packing. Defendant breached the contract to sell the tomatoes to Plaintiff. Plaintiff sued Defendant, asking the court to order specific performance.

    Issue. Should the court grant the Plaintiff specific performance?

    Held. Yes.
    Plaintiff, having only six weeks to can tomatoes in the factory, must do all the preparation for the canning season before the six weeks start. Plaintiff can only do that if Plaintiff knows, roughly, how many tomatoes will be canned that season. Plaintiff can estimate the number of tomatoes certain tracks of land will produce and prepare accordingly.
    While money damages could compensate Plaintiff for having to pay more for tomatoes on the open market, it will not give Plaintiff back the time that Plaintiff needed to prepare for the packing season

    Discussion. The court rejected the notion that specific performance was only for cases involving the sale of land, and expands it to cover any situation when money damages will not compensate the injured party.


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