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Law School Case Brief

CLARK v. MARSIGLIA - 1 Denio 317, 1845 N.Y. LEXIS 68


The measure of damages against a party who has employed another to do certain mechanical work at a price agreed upon, and who has countermanded his directions and forbidden the further execution of the work, after it had been commenced, is not the whole amount agreed to be paid, but a just recompense for such injury as the party employed has sustained on account of the breach of the agreement. The party so employed has no right to proceed with the work after such countermand.


Defendant owner took his paintings to plaintiff restorer for cleaning and repair. The restorer brought suit to collect for the work he performed on the paintings. The owner made no defense to the charges for work done on the first painting; however, he claimed that he told the restorer to not finish work on the second painting, but that the restorer completed the work anyway. The trial court refused to instruct the jury that plaintiff could not recover for work done after the owner's countermand and judgment was rendered in favor of the restorer for the full amount sought. 


Did the trial court err in allowing restorer to recover the whole value of his labor and for materials furnished in cleaning and repairing the owner's paintings?




The New York appellate court found that although the owner breached his contract by requiring the restorer to stop work on the paintings, the restorer could not finish the work and seek the full amount due. Instead, he could stop working and recover damages, including recompense for labor done and materials used as well as a sum for the breach of the contract.

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