It is axiomatic that specific performance will not be ordered when the party claiming breach of contract has an adequate remedy at law. This is especially true when the contract involves personal property as distinguished from real estate.
Appellant brought an action alleging breach of contract against appellee. It sought relief in the form of a mandatory injunction prohibiting the continuing breach or, in the alternative, damages. The district court held a bench trial on the issues of whether there was a valid, binding contract between the parties and whether, if there was such a contract, appellant should be enjoined from breaching it. It then ruled that the contract is invalid due to lack of mutuality and denied the prayer for injunctive relief. The court made no decision regarding the requested damages. On appeal, the court concluded that there is mutuality of consideration within the terms of the agreement. The court of appeals stated that there was a valid, binding contract between the parties as to each of the developments for which supplemental letter agreements have been signed.
Was specific performance the proper remedy?
The court reversed the lower court and remanded the case stating that the trial court should grant the injunctive relief prayed for. The case fell within that category in which specific performance should be ordered as a matter of right. In Missouri, as elsewhere, specific performance may be ordered even though personalty is involved in the "proper circumstances". And a remedy at law adequate to defeat the grant of specific performance must be as certain, prompt, complete, and efficient to attain the ends of justice as a decree of specific performance.