When you enter into a contract, the expectation is that you and the other party will do what you agreed upon. Occasionally, though, this is not what happens, and a breach of contract occurs.
If you have fulfilled your obligations, then you may have a breach of contract claim against the other party. You need an experienced business law attorney to negotiate a settlement with the other party, take steps to avoid a costly lawsuit, and use litigation when necessary to resolve your claim. Conversely, if you cannot fulfill your part of the contract, the other party may have a claim against you. You still need the assistance of a lawyer to help you settle the dispute. Contact the Wellington, Florida breach of contract attorney at Gueronniere, P.A. today.
What is a breach of contract in Florida?
Three components are required for there to be a breach of contract in Florida:
- A valid contract
- A material breach
- And the plaintiff must have suffered damages due to the breach of the contract
A Valid Contract
Per the rules known as the Statute of Frauds in Florida, certain types of agreements are not enforceable if they are not in a written contract. Types of unenforceable oral agreements include contracts for goods for $500 or more, for real estate, or with performance due one year or more after the agreement.
In addition to satisfying the Statute of Frauds, a valid contract must also have the following elements:
- Offer and acceptance, meaning one party made an offer and the other party accepted the offer
- Consideration, or the value each party is providing per the contract
- Reasonably certain terms
- The capacity to enter into the contract
- The contract is for legal activities
Material Breach of the Contract
The defendant must commit a material breach of the contract. Florida courts have found a material breach to be a breach that goes to the heart of the agreement. For example, if the agreement were to sell a business, a material breach would be if a party failed to transfer ownership of the business by the deadline.
Damages are the harm the plaintiff suffers from the breach of contract. If the contract was to sell a business and the defendant failed to provide the total amount of money when the parties completed the sale, the plaintiff suffered damages because the defendant did not pay in full.
How do parties breach a contract?
Some common ways to materially breach a contract include the following:
- Failing to deliver goods
- Disregarding an obligation of the contract
- Divulging the confidential information of the other party
- Failing to pay rent in a rental or lease agreement
- Declining to pay the total amount of money agreed to in the contract
- Presenting goods with quality that does not meet the other party’s expectations
- Missing a deadline for delivery of goods or services
What are the deadlines for submitting a claim for breach of contract in Florida?
In general, the plaintiff must bring a claim in court within five years of the breach. However, there are two cases where this statute of limitation differs:
- If the contract breached was an oral agreement, the plaintiff must file the claim within four years after the breach.
- If the plaintiff is requesting special performance, then the plaintiff must file the claim with a court within one year of the breach of the contract.
What remedies are available to the plaintiff for a claim?
Several remedies are available to a plaintiff for a claim:
- Special performance – the defendant will have to perform its part of the contract (usually available when the contract was for real property or rare, unique goods)
- Rescission – the parties are returned to their states before executing the contract, and the contract is no longer binding
- General damages – a financial award for the damages the plaintiff suffered
- Special damages – a monetary award for the damages that were not predictable at the time the parties contracted but involved a special circumstance the defendant was aware of when the parties contracted
- Punitive damages – a rarely provided financial award to punish the defendant for egregious conduct
However, the defendant does have a defense against some of the plaintiff’s claims for damages. The damages awarded to the plaintiff may be reduced if the defendant can show the plaintiff failed to mitigate its damages using reasonable efforts or expenditures.
Contact the Breach of Contract Lawyer at Gueronniere, P.A. Today
Whether you are a defendant or plaintiff in a breach of contract claim, contact an attorney as soon as possible to understand your options for resolving the dispute. Grace de la Gueronniere will listen to you to understand your agreement and the effects of the breach and she will chart out a customized strategy to handle your specific claim. Contact our Wellington breach of contract attorney as soon as possible for a free consultation.