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Kakaes v. George Wash. Univ. - 790 A.2d 581 (D.C. 2002)


In the context of contracts, it is "axiomatic" that equitable relief will not be granted where the plaintiff has a complete and adequate remedy at law.


In 1993, George Washington University (George Washington) refused to award tenure to plaintiff Professor Apostolos K. Kakaes, who had been on a "tenure accruing" track at the University since his appointment in September 1987 as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS). The district court declined to order George Washington to grant him tenure and instead held that he was entitled to an award of damages in the amount of $ 75,018, as well as costs and interest. On appeal, Kakaes argued that the contract between him and George Washington required the university to grant him tenure and that the amount of damages awarded by the judge was inadequate.


Were the damages awarded by the judge to Kakaes inadequate?




The Court held that Kakaes failed to show why damages did not provide him with full and complete relief, and at least in the absence of a provision specifying an equitable remedy, an award of legal relief was the entirely appropriate norm.  The predicate for denying equitable relief to the professor was that he had a full and adequate remedy at law. Nevertheless, the burden was on him to prove the extent of his damages. His failure to present expert testimony was problematical, for the task of projecting a person's lost earnings lent itself to clarification by expert testimony because it involved the use of statistical techniques and required a broad knowledge of economics. Without expert testimony, the trial judge was unpersuaded by the professor's lay testimony, and the appellate court could not say that her findings were clearly wrong. Kakaes failed to demonstrate any reversible error on the part of the trial judge with respect to the quantum of damages.

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