enXco Dev. Corp. v. N. States Power Co.

758 F.3d 940 (8th Cir. 2014)

 

RULE:

Where a condition precedent in a contract is not material, a court may apply the doctrine of temporary impracticability if the condition is not met, which application  excuses the non-occurrence of the condition if forfeiture would otherwise result.

FACTS:

enXco Development Corp. ("enXco") and Northern States Power Co. (NSP) contracted for the construction of a wind—energy project in North Dakota. enXco did not obtain a permit by a date certain, thus failing to satisfy a condition precedent to the contract. NSP then terminated the contract. enXco suffered several million dollars in losses. enXco sued NSP for breach of contract. The district court granted NSP's motion for summary judgment. On appeal, enXco contends that the district court erred in granting NSP's motion for summary judgment because the doctrines of temporary impracticability and disproportionate forfeiture prevent the district court from strictly enforcing the relevant condition precedent.

ISSUE:

Did the district court err in granting a breach of contract defendant's motion for summary judgment where plaintiff had failed to meet conditions precedent contained in the contract?

ANSWER:

No.

CONCLUSION:

In a breach of contract action involving the construction of a wind energy project in which plaintiff did not obtain a permit by a date certain, thus failing to satisfy a condition precedent to the contract, the district court did not err in granting defendant's motion for summary judgment, as the doctrines of temporary impracticability and disproportionate forfeiture did not prevent the district court from strictly enforcing the condition precedent, and the various sources of delay, including problems related to endangered birds, were all foreseeable and manageable in the time frame agreed to in the parties' contracts.

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