Brief Fact Summary. Plaintiff was the beneficiary of an insurance policy issued by John Hancock Mutual Insurance Co. (Defendant). The policy was such that Plaintiff received payments from the time the policy was issued for the next twenty years, with a final payment of $5000.00. Defendant stopped payments and paid the $5000.00 after fifteen years, because, Defendant claimed, that there was a mistake and both insured and Defendant intended the policy to be for fifteen years.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. The doctrine of anticipatory breach does not apply to a unilateral contract by an insurance company to pay a specified amount of money at a specified time
Issue. May Plaintiff sue Defendant for anticipatory repudiation?
Defendant cites Corbin on Contracts, stating that Plaintiff has not fulfilled all the conditions of the contract.
However, Corbin on Contracts does not apply because the contract in question is not an annuity or disability policy that would pay installments for an indefinite time, nor is it an agreement to pay money in the future if an event occurs. Rather, it is a unilateral contract to pay a specific amount of money at a specific time.
Discussion. The court said that rather than trying to categorize contracts by those parties that enter into them, one should look at the actual agreement.