When Business Goes Wrong
When individuals go into business together, they generally do so with the intention of establishing a successful endeavor. Whether it is the creation of a new company or an agreement for one party to offer services to the other, the expectation is that everyone will perform as they agreed to do when the endeavor began. Unfortunately, a considerable number of these business undertakings end unfavorably. In circumstances where one party fails to meet the expectations set out in an agreement, the remaining business partners may face significant financial hardships. While some of these conflicts are solved with a simple conversation, most often court intervention is necessary to bring resolution and compensation for the injured party.
The New York Daily News recently reported that major league baseball player Alex Rodriguez is dealing with allegations that he breached a business contract. A lawsuit filed in Miami on December 17th names the professional athlete as a defendant. The dispute reportedly arises from a written agreement between Rodriguez and his ex-brother-in-law. According to the lawsuit, the two parties contracted to acquire and sell real property together within the state of Florida. The plaintiff alleges that Rodriguez bought and sold numerous properties in connection with five other Florida businesses, which are also named as defendants in the lawsuit.
The plaintiff alleges that the defendants breached the contract by:
- Selling properties without the authority of the plaintiff;
- Not compensating the plaintiff with profits from the sale; and
- Acting with disregard for the contract that existed between the plaintiff and Rodriguez.
The lawsuit does not list a specific amount of requested damages. Instead the request is for “far excess of Fifteen Thousand ($15,000.00), plus Court Costs.” The plaintiff also requests a jury trial.
What is a Breach?
A contract begins with an offer and an acceptance to perform in a specific manner. That meeting of the minds becomes a legal contract. This is an important detail, because contract breach actions require proof that an actual contract did exist. Once that hurdle is crossed, the plaintiff must prove that the other party did not perform as agreed under the contract. Plaintiffs must then prove the existence of a financial harm and adequately demonstrate how the harm reasonably stems from the breach.
Defending a Contract Breach Allegation
There are several defenses available for individuals and businesses facing allegations of contract breach. A few of the most common include:
- Mistake – A unilateral mistake occurs when one party to the agreement misunderstands the terms and requirements of the contract. A mutual mistake occurs when all parties to the agreement misunderstand. In some cases, these mistakes become adequate defenses.
- Impossibility – The action required by the contract must be possible for performance. Certain circumstances, like death or prevention of law, may legitimately deter action. In these situations, the breaching party can probably present a viable defense.
If you are involved in a contract dispute, contact the legal team of Pita Weber & Del Prado for knowledgeable and skillful representation. Call the Miami office today at 305-670-2889 for a free consultation.