Law School Case Brief
Specialty Tires of Am., Inc. v. CIT Grp./Equipment Fin., Inc. - 82 F. Supp. 2d 434 (W.D. Pa. 2000)
In cases involving the sale of goods, the doctrine of impracticability is put as: Delay in delivery or non-delivery in whole or in part by a seller is not a breach of their duty under a contract for sale if performance as agreed has been made impracticable by the occurrence of a contingency the non-occurrence of which was a basic assumption on which the contract was made.
Specialty Tires, Inc. ("Specialty") sued The CIT Group/Equipment Financing, Inc. (“CIT”) for breach of contract arising out CIT's failure to deliver 11 tire presses that it had previously contracted to sell to Specialty. CIT, in turn, filed a third-party complaint against Condere Corporation, Titan Tire Corporation, and Titan International, Inc. (collectively "Condere") arising out of the latter's alleged wrongful refusal to permit those presses to be removed from its factory. Specialty moved for partial summary judgment, arguing that CIT's defenses were without merit, while CIT moved for full summary judgment on the ground that its performance was excused under the doctrine of impossibility or commercial impracticability.
Was CIT’s performance excused under the doctrine of impossibility or commercial impracticability?
The Court found that all parties believed that CIT was the owner of the presses. Nowhere was it argued that there was any history of tortious or opportunistic conduct that would have alerted CIT that third-party defendants would attempt to convert the presses to its own use. This was not the sort of risk that CIT should have expected to either bear or contract against. The Court concluded that CIT made out its defense of impracticability and was entitled to full summary judgment.
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