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Unresolved Factual Disputes Trigger Reversal of $776K Judgment in South Florida Contract Breach Case

steel pilingsThere are lots of minute items and details that go into putting together a successful commercial litigation case. For example, if you are pursuing a breach of contract case, it is important to have proof that the defendant’s alleged improper actions or inactions related to the contract you’ve cited in your case. That issue proved to be key in a successful appeal and a reversal of a $776,000 judgment handed down by a Broward County court. This case demonstrates that, whether your case is a $7,000 one or a $70 million one, it is vital to, with the help of experienced Florida contract litigation counsel, ensure that you have covered all of the necessary details.

The dispute underlying this case focused on a rental contract between a construction company and a company that provided steel sheet pilings. The pilings in question were ones used by the construction company on its work on the Interstate 595 project in Broward County. The agreement called for the pilings company to lease pilings to the construction company and for the construction company to pay the pilings company in periodic invoices.

A year later, with the construction company roughly $500,000 behind on its payments, the pilings company sued for breach of contract and unjust enrichment. In its amended complaint, the plaintiff attached the rental contract but did not attach any invoices or any other contracts. The plaintiff followed that up by filing a motion for summary judgment. The plaintiff argued that the construction company signed the deal, took delivery of the pilings, and did not pay the invoices. These facts alone established that it was entitled to judgment in its favor on the breach of contract claim, it argued.

The trial court agreed and entered a summary judgment in favor of the plaintiff. The plaintiff received a damages award of $776,000.

The construction company appealed, and it won. In order for a party to be entitled to a summary judgment in its civil case, it must establish that there are no relevant factual disputes remaining in the case. The problem in this action was that the rental agreement that the plaintiff attached to its complaint did not necessarily cover all of the transactions between the two companies. The rental agreement indicated that it covered only the “I-595 Project, 3rd Section.” The construction company, however, performed work on the entire I-595 project. As a result, there were valid disputes of fact regarding whether the pilings that the plaintiff invoiced were part of the “3rd Section” of the I-595 project (which would be covered by the contract) or some other section of the project (which would not be covered by the agreement).

The status of the invoices, and to which section of the interstate highway project they corresponded, was clearly still in dispute and definitely relevant because the correct amount of damages that the construction company would owe the pilings company would vary depending on which of the invoices were covered by the agreement and which were not. All this added up to a case that did not entitle the pilings company to summary judgment.

Whether you are pursuing or defending a breach of contract dispute in Florida, reach out to the skilled South Florida contract litigation attorneys at Stok Folk + Kon. Our team has been helping businesses protect their rights and interests for many years and is ready to talk to you about your case.

Contact us online or by calling (305) 935-4440 to schedule your consultation and find out how this firm can help you protect your interests.

More blog posts:

South Florida Real Estate Agent Wins Appeal in Contract Breach Dispute with Broker, Florida Business Lawyers Blog, June 23, 2017

Stok Folk + Kon Client Secures $8M Award in Breach of Contract Litigation Victory, Florida Business Lawyers Blog, May 18, 2017

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