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Vermont law divides damages from breach of contract in two parts. First are those damages for losses that naturally and usually flow from the breach itself. It is not required that the parties actually considered such damages, but they must be such as the parties may fairly be supposed to have considered. Second are the special, sometimes referred to as consequential, damages that must pass the tests of causation, certainty and foreseeability, and, in addition, be reasonably supposed to have been in the contemplation of both parties at the time they made the contract. Some of these special or consequential damages may fall outside the limits of recovery unless it can be found as a fact that they were, in fact, contemplated by the parties.
The plaintiff, A. Brown, Inc., was a tenant of the defendant, the Vermont Justin Corp., between January, 1978, and October, 1983. This lawsuit relates to damages claimed by the tenant from a leaking roof during that period. The trial court found in favor of the plaintiff for $ 24,500 in damages, counterbalanced by an agreed recovery by the defendant of $ 1,238.48 for past due property taxes owed on a different leased property. The defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to prove any liability or damage.
Did the trial court err in awarding the damages?
The court found that the damages were sufficiently directly related to the breach of the lease, which required the landlord to take care of all outside fixtures, including the roof. The damage awarded was appropriate because the landlord provided no independent evidence to show that the tenant's damage testimony was erroneous. Thus, it was within the trial court's discretion to evaluate the evidence on the issue of damages.