Haines v. City of New York

41 N.Y.2d 769, 396 N.Y.S.2d 155, 364 N.E.2d 820 (1977)

 

RULE:

The law will not imply that a contract calling for continuing performance is perpetual in duration.

FACTS:

The city and the towns entered into an agreement for the construction of a sewage system. The property owner brought an action against the city for declaratory and injunctive relief alleging that the agreement was perpetual in duration and obligated the city to expend additional capital funds to enlarge an existing plant or build a new one to accommodate the present and future needs of the towns. The trial court held in favor of the property owner, and the city appealed. The court ruled that the city was obligated to maintain the existing plant but was not required to expand that plant or construct any new facilities to accommodate increased demands on the sewage system.

ISSUE:

Is the city required to expand or construct any new facilities to accommodate plaintiff's substantial increased demands on the sewage system?

ANSWER:

No.

CONCLUSION:

The court concluded that the city is presently obligated to maintain the existing plant but is not required to expand that plant or construct any new facilities to accommodate increased demands on the sewage system. The initial problem encountered in ascertaining the nature and extent of the city's obligation pursuant to the 1924 agreement, is its duration. We reject, as did the courts below, the plaintiff's contention that the city is perpetually bound under the agreement. The contract did not expressly provide for perpetual performance and both the trial court and the Appellate Division found that the parties did not so intend. Under these circumstances, the law will not imply that a contract calling for continuing performance is perpetual in duration.

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