Structural Polymer Grp., Ltd. v. Zoltek Corp.

543 F.3d 987 (8th Cir. 2008)

 

RULE:

In reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence to support a jury's verdict, a court of appeals interprets the record in a light most favorable to the prevailing party, affirming unless no reasonable juror could have reached the same conclusion.

FACTS:

The buyers entered into an agreement to purchase a carbon fiber product from the seller. The seller stopped manufacturing the product specified in the contract and began making a substitute product. The parties' dispute concerned two orders for the substitute product that were never filled. Plaintiff buyers sued defendant seller in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri for breach of a requirements contract. A jury reached a verdict in favor of the buyers. The district court vacated a portion of the jury's damages award as duplicative. The seller appealed. The buyers cross-appealed the modification of the damages award.

ISSUE:

Was the absence of orders sufficient to demonstrate mutual abandonment of the contract?

ANSWER:

No.

CONCLUSION:

The court of appeals held that the agreement did not lack mutuality of obligation. A duty of good faith was implied in requirements contracts under Mo. Rev. Stat. § 400.2-306(1) (1994), which was sufficient to find that the buyers' promise was not illusory. The district court was not required to instruct the jury on the seller's theory that the buyers abandoned the agreement; an absence of orders was insufficient to demonstrate mutual abandonment. A statement by the seller's attorney was properly admitted as an admission by a party opponent. Expert testimony offered by the buyers was sufficient to support the damages award, and the instruction regarding damages did not permit the jury to determine damages based on speculation. As the jury was provided with alternative damages calculations and awarded damages under both calculations, the lesser award was properly vacated as duplicative.

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