Stees v. Leonard

20 Minn. 494 (1874)



If a man bind himself, by a positive, express contract, to do an act in itself possible, he must perform his engagement, unless prevented by the act of God, the law, or the other party to the contract. No hardship, no unforeseen hindrance, no difficulty short of absolute impossibility, will excuse him from doing what he has expressly agreed to do.


The parties entered into a contract whereby defendants agreed to do everything necessary to complete a building for plaintiffs. Defendants commenced construction and partially completed the building when it fell to the ground. Defendants attempted the construction the next year, but again the building fell. Defendants then refused to perform the contract, claiming that the failure to complete the building was due to the fact that the soil was incapable of sustaining the building. Plaintiffs brought an action to recover damages for defendants' failure to complete the building. The trial court held that defendants were liable for damages for breach of contract. On appeal, the state supreme court affirmed the order.


Were defendants liable for breach of contract when they refused to perform the contract claiming the failure to complete the building was due to soil failure?




Defendants were bound by their express contract to complete the building for plaintiffs, and they were liable for damages because of the breach of the promise. Defendants could have provided for soil failure contingencies in the contract, but they failed to do so.

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