The Damages Requirement for a Breach of Contract Claim

You say someone breached their contract with you. Start by determining how you will measure your damages because without damage their is no breach of contract claim. Your case will be dismissed.

In New York, like other jurisdictions, a Plaintiff must prove the following elements to bring a claim for Breach of Contract:

(1) formation of a contract between plaintiff and defendant;

(2) performance by plaintiff;

(3) defendant’s failure to perform; [and]

(4) resulting damage

TYPES OF DAMAGES AWARDED BY THE COURT MAY INCLUDE:

Compensatory Damages – Plaintiff is awarded the amount of compensation that would make you whole. For example, price of the contract was $1,000 and as a result of defendant’s breach you had to pay $1,500 for the same services elsewhere. Possible court award may be $500 because you would have had to pay the $1,000 at minium anyway.

Restitution – Defendant is required to refund Plaintiff the money Plaintiff paid to the breaching party.

Liquidated Damages – if your contract has a provision which sets the damages in the event of breach that is what plaintiff is awarded.

Nominal Damages – A damage award made where there were damages were unquantifiable but the court seeks to award the bare minimum for the sake of recognizing the harm. It could be as small as $1.00 so its not worth the time, effort and expense.

Quantum Meruit – Plaintiff is awarded payment for work that plaintiff completed if the defendant who hired plaintiff reneged on the contract before it was complete. Typically a service contract scenario.

Equitable Remedies – The Court issues a declaratory judgement ordering the contract canceled or requiring a specific preformance by the breaching party – a rare remedy because it is hard to monitor.

Punitive Damages – An additional award beyond the basic damages award which generally matches the basic damages in amount. It is awarded to plaintiff punnish morally reprehensible behavior by the breaching party.