Fundamental Elements of Contract and Business Dispute Litigation

Fundamental Elements of Contract and Business Dispute Litigation

Breach of contract claims, along with tort claims and equitable claims, are one of the most common types of civil lawsuits. Individuals, a sole proprietorship, corporations, limited liability companies, limited companies, limited partnerships, nonprofit organizations, subsidiaries, joint ventures, public companies, joint-stock companies, unlimited companies and even schools can all file or be the defendant in a breach of contract claim.

Breach of contract claims can include government contracts, purchase agreements, commission contracts, employment agreements, vendor contracts, non-compete agreements, building contracts, real estate contracts and a litany of others.

A breach of contract claim is the result of one party, or both parties, believing the other did not fulfill their part of an agreement.

Requisites of a Breach of Contract Claim

The first thing a plaintiff must establish in a breach of contract claim is that they and the defendant entered into a valid contract. Secondly, the plaintiff must establish the terms of the contract. Then, a plaintiff must establish that a defendant did not act in accordance with the terms of the contract.

Finally, the plaintiff must establish that — as a result of the defendant failing to act in accordance with the contract — damages were suffered on the part of the plaintiff.

One caveat of proving a breach of contract claim is that the terms of the contract must be clear to both parties. Vaguely worded and/or ambiguous language can make establishing the terms of a contract difficult.

Continuing to Perform Following a Breach of Contract

In Texas, a contract can be terminated under two conditions:

  1. Material breach of contract.
  2. Repudiation of a dependent promise.
However, terminating performance prior to the conclusion of litigation is a risk a plaintiff may not want to take even if a breach of contract verdict or settlement appears to be a foregone conclusion.
If it is found that a defendant did not commit a breach of contract and the plaintiff in the case is found to have terminated performance, there can be monetary consequences. A plaintiff merely claiming breach of contract as a reason to stop performing — failing to wait for a verdict — can lead to the defendant taking action against them.
In such a case, the plaintiff would become the defendant and the original plaintiff could be held liable for things like costs, fees and/or profit loss.
In other words, simply filing a breach of contract lawsuit or claiming breach of contract does not give a person or business license to stop performing the agreed upon duties in a contract.

Consequences of Breach of Contract Verdict

If a Texas court finds in favor of a breach of contract claim plaintiff, the plaintiff is often entitled to compensatory damages. The sum of damages paid by the defendant are determined by the court or jury. Compensatory damages are typically comparative estimates. An amount considered reasonable, with respect to the losses a person or business could be expected to accrue under similar circumstances, will serve as the baseline.

If you successfully establish a breach of contract in court, you will be entitled to compensatory damages for any losses that would naturally arise from a breach of that type. These are damages that are supposed to put you back into as good a position as where you would have been if the defendant had performed.

Verbal Contracts in Texas

In Texas, the word “contract” does not just imply a written contract. A contract requires an offer, acceptance, consent, consideration and execution. Even large, complex civil cases can have a verdict determined by an oral agreement. While uncommon, it is not unprecedented.

Experienced Texas Civil Litigator

Experienced and knowledgeable legal counsel is essential to navigating a contract dispute. Seth Kretzer has both and can help determine your options and the best course of action. If you are currently navigating a complex business or contract dispute, contact a Houston federal criminal lawyer at the Law Offices of Kretzer and Volberding P.C. at 713-775-3050 for experienced and reliable legal assistance.

 

Phone: 713-775-3050
Fax: 713-929-2019
Houston, TX 77002
440 Louisiana, Suite 1440