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Law School Case Brief

Egerer v. CSR W., L.L.C. - 116 Wash. App. 645, 67 P.3d 1128 (2003)

Rule:

The fact that a claim is disputed does not render the claim unliquidated, so long as it may be determined by reference to an objective source such as fair market value. However, when determining the measure of damages requires the exercise of discretion by the factfinder, the claim is unliquidated.

Facts:

In 1997, the parties reached an agreement to have defendant CSR West (CSR) transport "all" the shoulder excavations from a road construction project to plaintiff Robert Egerer's property at the rate of $ .50 per cubic yard. CSR failed to deliver all the excavated shoulder material in the summer of 1997. In January 1998, Egerer obtained price quotes for pit run gravel ranging from $ 8.25 per cubic yard to $ 9.00 per cubic yard. In 1999, another business agreed to sell Egerer unwanted slide material for $ 6.39 per cubic yard.  Egerer sued CSR, alleging that CSR breached a contract to supply fill for land development. The Skagit County Superior Court, Washington, found a breach and determined that Egerer was limited to damages for non-delivery under Wash. Rev. Code § 62A.2-713. Both parties appealed from the trial court's judgment.

Issue:

Did CSR’s proposal of a lower market price for replacement fill make Egerer's claim unliquidated?

Answer:

No

Conclusion:

The Washington state appellate court concluded that the trial court did not misapply the law in concluding that the January 1998 price for pit run was the relevant market price rather than the actual price Egerer paid for landslide gravel in the summer of 1999. The trial court properly selected July 1997, the date of breach, as the initiation point for the award of prejudgment interest to Egerer. The award of interest was based on the trial court's conclusion that Egerer's damages were liquidated. That CSR proposed a lower market price for replacement fill did not make Egerer's claim unliquidated. The trial court properly denied Egerer's request for consequential damages.

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