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Commonwealth Edison Co. v. Allied-General Nuclear Services

United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division

February 14, 1990, Decided

No. 79 C 2866

Opinion

 [*852]  OPINION AND ORDER

 RICHARD A. POSNER, CIRCUIT JUDGE, SITTING BY DESIGNATION

Ten years ago, Commonwealth Edison filed this suit for breach of contract against Allied-General Nuclear Services (AGNS), a partnership of companies, and against the partners themselves. A diversity suit governed (pursuant to the choice of law provision in the contract) by New York law, it had bounced from judge to judge over the years until it fell into my lap when I volunteered to assist the Northern District of Illinois in clearing its growing backlog of civil jury cases. On October 19, 1989, I issued an order resolving a number of open questions. Before me now are a number of other motions, three of which -- motions for partial summary judgment -- are both fundamental in defining the scope of the trial (which will begin on March 19, 1990) and of sufficient general interest to warrant a published opinion.

The complexity of the issues and the importance of this decision to the scope of the lawsuit persuaded me that it would be prudent to solicit the parties' views before making the decision final, so on January 30 I issued a proposed opinion and directed the parties to submit by February 9 briefs setting  [**2]  forth any disagreements they might have with the findings and conclusions in it. I stated that any objection not made in the briefs would be deemed waived. The briefs have been submitted and the matter is now ripe for decision. It should go without saying that this opinion supersedes the proposed one, from which it differs, indeed, in important respects.

A complex, high-stakes case between two large law firms often develops a life of its own. That has happened here. In their relentless pursuit of the "facts," the parties have lost sight of the central legal issues. I am convinced that there is only one, minor, triable issue of liability; the trial will be confined for the most part to limited issues of damages.

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731 F. Supp. 850 *; 1990 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1638 **

COMMONWEALTH EDISON COMPANY, Plaintiff, v. ALLIED-GENERAL NUCLEAR SERVICES, et al., Defendants

Subsequent History:  [**1]  As Amended March 6, 1990.

CORE TERMS

force majeure, reprocessing, license, fuel, spent, operating license, nuclear fuel, Nuclear, discharged, storage, due diligence, failure to obtain, plant, impossibility, terminated, excused, damages, ban, storing, summary judgment, environmental, diligence, parties, moratorium, permanent, promisor, circumstances, parenthetical, suspended, costs

Contracts Law, Defenses, Ambiguities & Mistakes, General Overview, Contract Interpretation, Ambiguities & Contra Proferentem, Standards of Performance, Impossibility of Performance, Illegal Bargains, Civil Procedure, Judgments, Summary Judgment, Energy & Utilities Law, Nuclear Power Industry, Business & Corporate Compliance, Contracts Law, Types of Contracts, Express Contracts, Good Faith & Fair Dealing, Breach, Environmental Law, Land Use & Zoning, Conditional Use Permits & Variances, Disposal, Storage & Transport, Hazardous Wastes & Toxic Substances, Radioactive Substances, High Level Waste, Remedies