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Law School Case Brief

Walters v. Marathon Oil Co. - 642 F.2d 1098 (7th Cir. 1981)

Rule:

An equity court possesses some discretionary power to award damages in order to do complete justice. Furthermore, since it is the historic purpose of equity to secure complete justice, the courts are able to adjust the remedies so as to grant the necessary relief, and a district court sitting in equity may even devise a remedy which extends or exceeds the terms of a prior agreement between the parties, if it is necessary to make the injured party whole.

Facts:

Plaintiff gas station owners, Dennis and Betty Walters, brought a suit to recover damages for lost profits due to defendant Marathon Oil Company’s refusal to enter a seller agreement. The trial court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and Marathon appealed.

Issue:

Can plaintiff gas station owners recover damages for lost profits arising from defendant’s refusal to enter a seller agreement?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The court affirmed an award of lost profits to plaintiff gas station owners as to oil company's refusal to enter a seller agreement. The court held that the record supported a finding that plaintiffs used the ordinary care of a similarly situated person to mitigate their damages and that basing the judgment on promissory estoppel did not bar recouping lost profits because the oil company’s promise led to a reasonable profit expectation The court also determined that the record showed that appellees would have received the anticipated net profits that they were awarded if appellant fulfilled its promise.

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