Thorne v. White

103 A.2d 579, 1954 D.C. App. LEXIS 240



A party damaged by a breach of contract may only recover for losses which are the natural consequence and proximate result of that breach. Damages are awarded for the purpose of compensation and the injured party shall not be placed in a better position than he would have been in had no breach occurred. In such cases, the successful plaintiff shall only be allowed to recover what it has cost him to complete the same work, over and above the original contract price.


Appellee homeowner contracted for appellant contractor to put a new roof on his residence. Appellant began work but never finished the job. Appellee contracted with a roofing company to have the work completed. The cost of the company’s work was $ 357.26 more than the amount of appellant’s contract. Appellee sued appellant for the difference alleging breach of contract. The trial court entered judgment in appellee’s favor. On appeal, the appellate court reversed the judgment with instructions to grant a new trial on the issues of damages.


Did the trial court err in awarding appellee homeowner damages representing the difference between the contract price with appellant contractor and the amount paid to the roofing company for the completion of the work?





There was no error in the finding that appellant contractor had breached the contract. However, the trial court erred in holding that the two contracts were substantially the same and that the damages were the amount that the roofing company's contract exceeded the appellant's price. The evidence clearly showed that appellee homeowner had received more from the roofing company than he was to have received from appellant. Thus, an improper measure of damages was applied.

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