Suing for Breach of Contract

Contracts serve as the backbone of our modern society, governing the relationships and agreements businesses and individuals make in various aspects of life. From business transactions to employment agreements, contracts provide the foundation for trust and reliability. However, when one party fails to fulfill their contractual obligations, it can lead to a breach of contract.  Breaches of contract cause frustration, financial loss and often a need for legal recourse.

Legal Remedies for Breach of Contract

Contracts are legally binding agreements that outline the rights and obligations of parties involved. When one party fails to fulfill their contractual obligations, it is considered a breach of contract. In such situations, the non-breaching party has several legal remedies available to seek compensation or appropriate resolution. There are six common legal remedies for breach of contract matters: compensatory damages, specific performance, injunction, rescission, liquidated damages and nominal damages.

Compensatory damages are the most common and primary remedy for breach of contract. They aim to compensate the non-breaching party for the actual losses suffered due to the breach. The purpose of compensatory damages is to put the injured party in the same financial position they would have been in if the breach had not occurred. These damages may include financial losses, costs incurred, lost profits, and other damages that can be quantified.

The next remedy, specific performance, usually takes the form of a court order that requires a party to comply with the terms of a contract. For example, a land developer that contracted with a construction company to build a specific structure could appeal to the court for specific performance if the construction company attempted to pull out of the contract.

An injunction is a legal remedy that aims to prevent the breaching party from taking certain actions or to require them to perform or cease specific actions. It is sought when monetary compensation alone cannot adequately address the harm caused by the breach. Injunctions can be temporary (preliminary) or permanent, depending on the circumstances. For example, if a party breaches a non-disclosure agreement, the injured party may seek an injunction to prevent the breaching party from disclosing sensitive information.

Rescission is a legal remedy that seeks to cancel or undo the contract altogether. It is typically requested when one party has engaged in fraudulent or misleading conduct that invalidates the contract. Rescission allows the non-breaching party to be released from their contractual obligations and may also require the return of any consideration (money or property) exchanged between the parties.

Liquidated damages are pre-determined and agreed-upon amounts specified in the contract itself. They are intended to estimate the potential losses that may result from a breach of contract and provide a predetermined amount of compensation to the injured party. Liquidated damages are enforceable if they represent a reasonable estimate of actual damages at the time of contract formation. However, if they are deemed excessive or punitive, courts may consider them unenforceable.

Nominal damages are symbolic or token damages awarded when a breach of contract has occurred, but the non-breaching party has not suffered any significant financial loss. Although nominal damages have a minimal monetary value, they serve to recognize the violation of the contractual rights and uphold the principle that contractual obligations should be honored.

Considerations

In the state of Florida, suing for breach of contract requires meeting certain criteria and adhering to specific legal guidelines. To initiate a lawsuit for breach of contract in Florida, the following details should be considered:

1. Statute of Limitations: The statute of limitations determines the timeframe within which a lawsuit can be filed. In Florida, the statute of limitations for a written contract is five years from the date of the breach. However, for oral contracts, the statute of limitations is reduced to four years from the date of the breach. Also, when the plaintiff is suing for specific performance of a contract, the statute of limitations is only one year. It’s important to note that once the statute of limitations has expired, the right to sue for breach of contract is generally lost.

2. Valid Contract: To sue for breach of contract, there must have been a valid contract in place. A valid contract typically includes several essential elements, such as an offer, acceptance, consideration (something of value exchanged between the parties), legal capacity of the parties, and a mutual agreement on the terms and conditions.

3. Material Breach: A material breach refers to a substantial failure to perform one’s obligations as outlined in the contract. It occurs when a party fails to fulfill a fundamental aspect of the contract, significantly impacting the other party’s rights or expectations. To sue for breach of contract, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the other party has committed a material breach.

4. Damages: The plaintiff must have incurred actual damages as a direct result of the breach. Damages may include financial losses, loss of profits, additional expenses incurred, or other measurable harm suffered due to the breaching party’s failure to fulfill their contractual obligations. It is essential to provide evidence of the specific damages suffered.

“…when the plaintiff is suing for specific performance of a contract, the [Florida] statute of limitations is only one year.”

The Importance of an Attorney

When filing a lawsuit for breach of contract in Florida, it is advisable to consult with a local attorney who specializes in contract law. They can guide the party they represent through the legal process, assess the strength of their client’s case, help ensure that all necessary documentation and evidence are properly presented and determine the most appropriate legal remedy for a specific case.

An experienced contract law attorney can also be instrumental in avoiding expensive litigation in breach of contract matters. By employing negotiation and settlement techniques, exploring alternative dispute resolution methods, offering contract review and drafting expertise, and providing strategic guidance, an attorney can help parties resolve their disputes in a cost-effective manner. Choosing the right attorney with expertise in contract law can significantly increase the likelihood of reaching a favorable resolution while minimizing the financial and emotional toll of litigation.

South Florida Law

At South Florida Law, we have years of experience handling complex cases involving breach of contract. We have the resources to help you navigate the legal system and achieve the results you need.

We counsel on all commercial dispute resolution mechanisms including mediation, arbitration and litigation.

We also understand that staying within our client’s financial budget is important and work closely with our clients to keep our legal services cost-effective with a view to achieving outstanding results. Contact us today to get started by reaching out to us on our contact form or by calling (954) 900-8885.

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