Breach of Contract Attorneys in Los Angeles, California
What is a Breach of Contract?
A contract is a legally enforceable agreement between at least two people or entities who have exchanged one promise for another for their mutual benefit. Once the terms are negotiated and a contract is formed, those promises become obligations. In the event any of those promises are not kept – or an obligation breached –, the wronged party may assert a breach of contract claim as a plaintiff in a court of law, and the law will provide an adequate remedy depending on the facts of the case.
To prevail on a cause of action for breach of contract, the plaintiff must prove 1) a contract existed; 2) the plaintiff’s performance of the contract or excuse for non-performance; 3) the defendant’s breach; and 4) the resulting damage to the plaintiff.
That being said, there are certain defenses the defendant may raise against the enforceability of a contract, including but not limited to,
a party to the contract was a minor at the time of formation;
a party to the contract lacked the requisite state of mind at the time of formation, meaning they were either coerced, under the influence, or otherwise mentally incapacitated;
the terms of the contract were not reasonably ascertainable, meaning they were drafted too vague, uncertain, or illusory
an oral agreement was entered into that was required to be in writing, as per the Statute of Frauds; or
enforcement of the contract goes against public policy.
When a plaintiff goes to court and asserts a breach of contract claim, courts must first determine whether a material breach, immaterial breach, or anticipatory breach has occurred to decide a) whether the contract must still be performed; and b) what remedy, if any, to apply to ideally make the plaintiff whole again.
A material breach occurs when a party to the contract fails to perform at least one of their substantial obligations laid out in the terms and thereby renders fulfillment and enjoyment of the contract impractical if not impossible.
In cases where a material breach has occurred, the court will typically excuse the plaintiff’s non-performance, as well as remedy the breach by awarding monetary damages to reimburse them for whatever foreseeable financial consequences arose.
An immaterial breach occurs when a party partially breaches a contract, meaning performance of the contract, nor any entitled benefit to it, has become unreasonably difficult or impaired for either party. That being said, monetary damages or some other legal remedy may still be awarded to a party disadvantaged by an immaterial breach.
Repudiation of a contract, also known as “anticipatory breach,” occurs when a party announces an intention not to perform prior to the time due for performance. Importantly, such announcement can be express or implied.
Like immaterial breaches, the parties’ duty to perform the contract may or may not be discharged by the court, and the plaintiff may or may not be entitled to a legal remedy depending on the facts of the case.
What Are Some Legal Remedies Available for a Breach of Contract Claim?
Once a plaintiff has successfully proven a breach of contract claim, the judge or jury must decide on a verdict, or what legal remedy to apply to make the plaintiff “whole” again.
Generally speaking, the two main types of legal remedies include 1) damages, which is legal speak for monetary compensation; and 2) equitable relief, or legal doctrines the court may apply at their discretion depending on the facts of the case.
Monetary damages are awarded to reimburse the plaintiff for whatever foreseeable financial consequences arose. There are various types of damages to be awarded, ranging from compensatory to incidental; and various theories to calculate them, ranging from expectation, reliance, or restitution theories.
Legal jargon aside, the important thing to note is that plaintiffs are typically only reimbursed for actual and foreseeable economic losses they suffered as a result of the breach of contract. No pain and suffering nor punitive damages will be awarded.
Rescission: Courts may elect to rescind and cancel enforcement of the contract altogether, discharging both parties’ obligation to perform and ordering the return of any payments funded.
Reformation: In the alternative, courts may instead reform the contract, meaning modify the terms so they are fair, reasonable, and allow for performance of the contract.
Injunctive relief: Injunctions are a court order compelling the breaching party to either perform or refrain from performing a certain action issued before the commencement of trial.
Specific performance: In rare cases, a court may order specific performance, which is a court order requiring the breaching party perform a certain act. Courts remain reluctant to order specific performance, as there are often legal issues posed when forcing “involuntary servitude” in light of the United States Constitution’s Thirteenth Amendment.
What To Do If Someone Breaches a Contract You’re Privy To
“Privity” is the legal doctrine that enables only parties to the contract and any intended beneficiaries to maintain the right to sue when a breach of contract has occurred.
If you’re a party to a contract and either on the brink of a contract dispute or in the middle of one, remember: document everything in writing and store it for safe-keeping.
Then, contact an attorney as soon as possible; time is of the essence.
An attorney should review the terms of the contract carefully and advise you accordingly on whether a breach of contract has occurred, what legal remedies may be available to you, and how to go about safe-guarding them.
Our attorneys at Gomez Law, APC are prepared to do just that for you and guide you every step of the way.
What Types of Contracts Does Gomez Law, APC Specialize In?
Gomez Law, APC specializes in all types of contract disputes, including but not limited to:
Real Estate Transactions
Wills and Trusts
Cannabis law specialty
For those in the cannabis industry interested in advice and representation with respect to these sorts of business contracts, please ask to speak with our Senior Associate Attorney, Mr. Stewart Richlin, Esq., who brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise after having litigated cannabis law cases for over twelve years.