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Hochster v. De La Tour

    Citation. 118 ER 922

    Brief Fact Summary. Plaintiff, a currier, entered into a contract with Defendant to accompany Defendant on a trip that would begin June 1. Defendant changed his mind before June 1, and refused to compensate.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. If two parties enter into a contract to be performed at a designated time in the future, and one party refuses to perform the contract before the designated time the parties agreed to perform, the other party may sue before the contract was to be performed. That party need not wait until the time for performance has passed.

    Facts. Defendant and Plaintiff entered into a contract for Plaintiff to accompany Defendant on a tour starting on June 1. Defendant contacted Plaintiff on May 11, stating that he had changed his mind. He refused to compensate Plaintiff. Plaintiff brought suit against Defendant on May 22. Plaintiff found a new job that would begin on July 1.

    Issue. Was the lower court correct to find for the Plaintiff even thought the time that the contract was to be performed had not come?

    Held. Yes
    Defendant argues that if Plaintiff is not willing to accept Defendant’s cancellation of the contract, then Plaintiff should have waited, being ready and willing to perform the contract until the time that the contract was to be performed. This court does not agree. Defendant has made it clear that he will not perform the contact. Would we ask that Plaintiff still make plans to accompany Defendant and turn down other employment opportunities that would interfere with performance? It is much more rational for a person, injured by the repudiation of a contract to be able to sue for damages immediately upon repudiation.

    Discussion. The court laid down a rule about suing for damages on a breach of contract where the performance was to be at a future date. Instead of making the injured party prepare to perform when that party knows it is useless to do so, the court’s ruling allows injured parties to mitigate their damages and still sue for the damages they sustained because of the breach.


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