To be enforceable, Contracts do not have to be in writing. However, a written contract that defines the terms and that sets forth the obligations of each party is highly recommended. Because if there is not a written contract, the case becomes a “he said she said” type of case. The court will look at parol evidence to determine whether a contract exists and whether one party, or both materially breached it.
Pursuant to the Statute of Frauds, there are certain contracts that are required to be in writing, otherwise, they are not enforceable. Such contracts include:
- The contract to marry (or a marriage license)
- contracts that will take longer than a year to fulfill,
- contracts involving the transfer of an interest in land,
- a contract to be an executor of an estate,
- a contract wherein you agree to be a guarantor for someone else (personal guarantee) and
- a contract involving the sale of goods for more than $500.00.
If your contract involves any of these matters, then it must be in writing for the Court to enforce it.
A breach of contract occurs when one party to the contract materially breaches the contract by failing to perform. Often when a party has breached, the non-breaching party suffers damages.
How do I prove breach of contract?
There are three elements which must in order to prevail on a breach of contract cause of action:
- there must be a valid contract
- there must be a breach of the contract and
- the non-breaching party must have suffered damages.
Is every breach of contract grounds to file suit?
No. There are two types of breach for contracts, material breach and non-material breach.
- A material breach is the most serious of the two. When someone materially breached a contract, they essentially destroy or frustrate the purpose of the contract. This is the types of breach necessary in order to prevail in a breach of contract case.
- A non-material breach means the non-breaching party suffers some damages but the contract terms can still be achieved or fulfilled. If the contract is fulfilled, there are not grounds to proceed with a breach of contract lawsuit.
Most of the time when one party feels that they have suffered from the breach of another party, an attorney will send a demand letter to the breaching party giving the breaching party an opportunity to remedy the situation without litigation. If the breaching party does not resolve the dispute, a breach of contract lawsuit will likely follow.
What can I recover from a breach of contract lawsuit?
Under Florida law, the non-breaching party must take reasonable steps to lessen or mitigate their damages. That being said, the non-breaching party has numerous ways to recover for the breach of contract, such as:
- Recission. This occurs when a contract is rendered null and void by a court. So that is no longer recognized as legally binding. The courts can free non-breaching parties from their obligations under the contract. Moreover, it will effectively restore them to the position they were in before the contract was executed.
- Compensatory Damages. There are two categories of compensatory damages. General damages cover direct losses, meaning, what the plaintiff actually lost. The injured party in a breach of contract action is entitled to recover monetary damages that will put it in the same position it would have been had the other party not breached the contract.” Manor House, LLC v. Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, 277 So. 3d 658 (Fla. 5th DCA 2019). Special damages are those which occur as a result of the breach. They are not direct losses. But they are losses because of the breach of contract. “Special damages” are those that do not necessarily result from the wrong or breach of contract complained of, or which the law does not imply as a result of that injury, even though they might naturally and proximately result from the injury.” Land Title of Cent. Florida, LLC v. Jimenez, 946 So.2d 90 (Fla. 5th DCA 2006). “Special damages must be particularly specified in a complaint to apprise the opposing party of the nature of the special damages claimed; if special damages are not specifically pled, then evidence of them is inadmissible.” Id.
- Attorney Fees. Attorney fees are not recoverable in breach of contract cases unless there is a provision within the contract that allows for the recovery of fees.
- Punitive Damages. These are damages intended to punish the breaching party and they are usually not recoverable in breach of contract actions. “The legal standard for establishing entitlement to punitive damages, that is, that the plaintiff must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the conduct causing the damage was either intentional or grossly negligent, does not vary depending on the underlying legal theory.” Soffer v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 187 So. 3d 1219 (Fla. 2016).
How long do I have to file a breach of contract case?
In Florida, the statute of limitations varies for breach of contract is 5 years. (Florida Statute § 95.11).
Why Hire the Horton Law Group, P.A?
The principal partner at the Horton Law Group, P.A. – Attorney, Sommer C. Horton has been litigating breach of contract cases for 20 years. She is an experienced and aggressive estate litigator. She is highly regarded for her creativeness, strategic judgment and her uncanny ability to deliver persuasive legal arguments in the courtroom. She has a tremendous skill for being an aggressive advocate for her clients, while being one who understands and appreciates how trying litigation can be, thus, she is extremely sensitive to her clients’ needs.
Ms. Horton is passionate about the law and believes in seeking justice for her clients in an ethical and economic manner. Ms. Horton fights for each and every one of her clients – every step of the way. Ms. Horton will spend time with you to make sure you understand the law, understand your rights and she will draft your estate plans for you so that you and your family are protected. In addition, she can assist you with your business planning, estate planning and asset protection needs too.
The Horton Law Firm, PA is a boutique civil litigation law firm that only takes on a limited number of cases so that personal attention can be given to every client. Make the right call – schedule a free 30-minute consultation with Ms. Horton. You can make an appointment by calling 561-299-0018 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.