A decree for specific relief is not a matter of right to which a party is entitled upon the proof of his contract, but rests in the sound discretion of the court, which grants or withholds the relief according to the circumstances of the case. This discretion is not, however, of an arbitrary and capricious character, but one governed as far as may be by the general rules and principles of equity. No positive rule can be laid down by which the action of the court can be determined in all cases. In general it may be said that the specific relief will be granted when it is apparent, from a view of all the circumstances of the particular case, that it will serve the ends of justice; and that it will be withheld when, from a like view, it appears that it will produce hardship or injustice to either of the parties. The exercise of the court's discretion is but a finding of fact as to whether or not granting the relief prayed for would be equitable in view of all the circumstances of the particular case.
A cooperative marketing association filed a contract claimand a claim in equity seeking specific performance of the contract it had with the milk producer. The association also sought injuctive relief. The milk producer filed a motion to dismiss the contract claim and the request for injunctive relief. The trial court denied injunctive relief and the association sought review.
Did the trial court properly grant the motion to dismiss?
The court denied the milk producer's motion to dismiss and set aside the judgment of the trial court denying injunctive relief. On review, the court found that the association could not obtain proper and adequate relief in an action at law for damages or in any other way than by restraining the milk producer from disposing of the property that he had pledged to it. The court determined that the injury to the association was of a character that would seriously tend to defeat the very purpose of its organization and that it could not be measured in dollars and cents. As a result, the court held that it followed that the association's remedy by an action at law was inadequate and that the case fell within the field of equitable jurisdiction. In addition, the court in construing the contract held that in the light of the purpose of the association and its plan of operation, it was not the intention of the parties by the damages clause to give the milk producer an option to pay the stipulated sum as the price of nonperformance of his contract. Accordingly, the court overruled the motion to dismiss. In addition, the court reversed the portion of the judgment that determined that an injunction could not be granted because the finding was not supported in fact or law.