J. O. Hooker & Sons v. Roberts Cabinet Co.

683 So. 2d 396 (Miss. 1996)

 

RULE:

The termination of a contract is an "extreme" remedy that should be "sparsely granted." Termination is permitted only for a material breach. A breach is material when there is a failure to perform a substantial part of the contract or one or more of its essential terms or conditions, or if there is such a breach as substantially defeats its purpose, or when the breach of the contract is such that upon a reasonable construction of the contract, it is shown that the parties considered the breach as vital to the existence of the contract.

FACTS:


Appellant general contractor entered into an agreement with appellee subcontractor, wherein subcontractor agreed to tear out old cabinets and install new cabinets, as part of general contractor's work on a public housing project. A dispute arose between the parties as to which party had the obligation of disposing of the cabinets. Subcontractor filed an action against general contractor for breach of the subcontract agreement. The trial court entered summary judgment and an award of damages in favor of subcontractor. On appeal, the court affirmed on condition of remittitur. The court explained, however, that if remittitur was refused, the case was reversed and the matter remanded for a new trial solely on the issue of damages.

ISSUE:

Did the court err in granting summary judgment in favor of appellee due to appellant's breach of subcontract?

ANSWER:

No.

CONCLUSION:

The court held that, as a matter of law, subcontractor did not assume the specific contractual duties relating to the removal of the cabinets, and that there accordingly existed no genuine issues of material fact with regard to the issue. Thus, the court concluded that the trial judge was correct in granting summary judgment in favor of subcontractor with regard to the issue of liability. While the court held that the jury's verdict was not against the overwhelming weight of the evidence, the court held that subcontractor was not entitled to an award of damages for the cost of storing the old cabinets.

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