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Taylor v. Johnson

Citation. 22 Ill.15 Cal.3d 130, 123 Cal.Rptr. 641, 539 P.2d 425 (1975)
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Brief Fact Summary.

Plaintiff and Defendants are both horse breeders. Plaintiff and Defendant entered in an agreement to breed Plaintiff’s mares with Defendant’s Stallion. Defendant then sold the stallion and shipped it to Kentucky. Plaintiff and Defendant made several attempts to breed the mares with the stallion but the breeding never came to pass.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

For there to be anticipatory breach as a matter of law, one party must state, clearly, that they will not perform the contract or make such performance impossible, not, merely, difficult.


Plaintiff and Defendant made a contract to breed Plaintiff’s mares, Sunday Slippers and Sandy Fork, with Defendant’s stallion, Fleet Nasrullah. This contract was formed in 1965. The breeding was to take place during the summer of 1966. In October, 1965, Defendants sold Fleet Nasrullah and shipped him to Kentucky where the new owners sold share of breeding time with him, entitling the owners to breed one mare with him each season. Defendant wrote Plaintiff a letter informing that he sold Fleet Nasrullah and “releasing” Plaintiff from their contract. Defendant demanded that Plaintiff fulfill the contract. The new owners of Fleet Nasrullah made several attempts to arrange to breed the mare with him, but it never can to pass. Before the end of the summer, Plaintiff gave up and brought suit against Defendant.


Did Defendants breach the contract by selling Fleet Nasrullah and then the new owners acting as Defendant’s agent breach the contract by not breeding Fleet Nasrullah with the two mares?


No. There was not express or implied repudiation as a matter of law.
In their letter Plaintiff, telling them they sold Fleet Nashrullah, Defendant expressly repudiated their contract, but then, took back the repudiation when Plaintiffs demanded they do so.
Selling Fleet Nashrullah did not make breeding impossible. Nor did the new owners’ selling shares. It made breeding the mares more difficult. In the end, however, it was Plaintiff’s decision to cease.


This case sets a high bar to establish repudiation. One must cross the line between making performance difficult to making it impossible.

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