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Wired Music, Inc. v. Clark (1960) - 26 Ill. App. 2d 413, 168 N.E.2d 736 (1960)

Rule:

The measure of damages where one engaged in the performance of a contract is wrongfully prevented by the other party from completing it is the difference shown by the evidence between the contract price and what it would have cost the plaintiff to have done and completed the work according to the terms of the contract.

Facts:

Plaintiff Wired Music, Inc. ("Wired") distributed recorded music to various locations by means of direct wires supplied by the local telephone company. Defendant D.M. Clark, d/b/a Courtesy Auto Sales ("Clark"), executed a contract for Wired's services for a three-year period. The contract provided, inter alia, that there could be no assignment without Wired's written consent. After 17 months, Clark moved his business and discontinued the service. However, the tenant who rented the space formerly occupied by Clark requested and was refused an assignment of Clark's contract. The tenant executed a new contract with Wired, which was shorter in duration and required the tenant to pay more than Clark paid. Wired then filed a breach of contract action against Clark in an Illinois justice of the peace court. Judgment was rendered for Wired. On Clark's appeal, after a non-jury trial, a county court entered judgment in favor of the Wired for $302.95, which represented Wired's lost profits for the remainder of Clark's contract, plus a fee. Clark appealed.

Issue:

Did the trial court properly determine Wired's damages for Clark's discontinuation of his music subscription before the end of the agreed term?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The court affirmed the ruling of the lower court and found that the correct measure of damages was Wired's monthly profit for 19 months, plus the disconnection charge. The court noted that Wired could supply any number of additional customers without incurring further expenses except for wire rental, and that the case was not at all like a situation where a plaintiff had a fixed quantity of personal property or real estate. Mitigating damages would have denied Wired the benefit of his bargain.

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