Businesses often find themselves involved in litigation over a contract dispute. Contract disputes typically fall under the umbrella of civil litigation. Business owners may need to protect their rights by litigating a contract matter in a Pittsburgh civil court. Whether you are the plaintiff or defendant, litigating contract disputes can be a complex process requiring the assistance of an experienced corporate attorney.
Discuss Your Case With a Skilled Corporate Lawyer
At Jones Gregg Creehan & Gerace, our contract dispute litigation attorneys work closely with clients to provide the best legal representation possible. We’ve carefully evaluated the potential claims or defenses related to the contract involved in the litigation. Our attorneys have extensive experience representing clients before Pittsburgh civil court judges, arbitrators, and mediators. We also have vast experience in appellate court. If you are involved in a contract dispute that may result in litigation, our business law attorneys are here to help. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation to learn more about our legal services.
Understanding Breach of Contract Litigation
Contracts are the backbone of commerce in this country. Businesses depend on contracts to hire employees, purchase goods, sell goods, transport goods, and more. When a party to a contract fails to carry out the contract terms, the other party may experience financial losses and other negative impacts. Failure to carry out the terms of a contract is called a breach of contract, and the victim has a right to sue the non-compliant party in court. A judge will oversee litigation between the two parties and decide on the case. Breach of contract can occur in several different ways:
- One party doesn’t perform as he or she agreed to perform
- One party does something that makes it impossible for the other party to perform the duties under the contract
- One party makes it clear that he or she doesn’t intend to perform the contractual duties
Litigating a Breach of Contract Lawsuit
When another person or company reaches a contract, the victim has a right to bring a breach-of-contract lawsuit. The party bringing the lawsuit is called the plaintiff. The plaintiff must prove that the contract was valid and can be legally enforced by a Pennsylvania court. Additionally, the plaintiff must prove that the breach involved a material violation of contract terms.
In other words, the breach-of-contract must be more than a shortcoming, simple mistake, or minor infraction. Finally, the plaintiff needs to prove that damages or losses have or will result because of the breach of contract. The losses do not necessarily need to be monetary. They could involve harming a business’s reputation. Examples of breach of contract include the following:
- Failure to finish a contracted job
- Failure to deliver goods on time or at all
- Failure to pay the other party in full
- Providing significantly different or lesser quality goods or services than agreed upon
Damages Available Through Contract Litigation
When one party breaches a legally valid contract, the other party has the right to pursue various types of remedies and damages. The plaintiff in contract litigation can pursue monetary damages and equitable relief. The non-breaching party is entitled to monetary damages in many situations. The party that breached the contract will need to pay for any expenses and losses caused by the breach through:
- Consequential damages – the breaching party must pay damages to put the non-breaching party in the same position they would have been without the breach
- Nominal damages – these damages are a minimal amount given to the non-breaching party if the party won the lawsuit but cannot show significant financial losses
- Liquidated damages – the damage amount stated in the contract to be paid if one party breaches any term in the contract
- Punitive damages – although rare, courts do have the authority to require the breaching party to pay additional damages as punishment for breach of contract
In addition to economic damages, the non-breaching party can request that the court order equitable remedies. Equitable remedies usually require the breaching party to take actions consistent with the terms of the contract or resolve the dispute in another way. Common examples of equitable damages include the following:
- Specific performance – in unique circumstances, a court will require the breaching party to perform their complete duties according to the terms of the contract
- Recission – in rare cases, a court will act like the contract never existed. Neither party would be required to perform under the contract. The court will attempt to put the non-breaching party in a similar situation as it was before the forming of the contract
- Contract reformation – the court cancels the disputed contract and orders the parties to write a new contract
The Statute of Limitation for Breach of Contract Claims in Pittsburgh
If you are considering filing a breach-of-contract lawsuit, it’s essential to consider the statute of limitations. A statute of limitation sets a time limit on bringing a lawsuit. If you would like to pursue a breach-of-contract lawsuit and don’t file your lawsuit within the specified time frame, you will be barred from filing a lawsuit. In most breach of contract cases, the plaintiffs only have four years to file a lawsuit. Breach of contract lawsuits are typically complex, and the more time you and your attorney have to prepare, the better.
Contact a Pittsburgh Contract Litigation Attorney Today
At Jones Gregg Creehan & Gerace, our corporate attorneys have had extensive experience involving commercial contract litigation. We will work closely with you to see the best possible outcome in your case. Whether you have been the victim of a breach of contract or you’re being accused of breaching a contract, our law firm has the resources and skills necessary to provide you with excellent legal representation. The sooner you take action, the better. Contact our Pittsburgh contract litigation lawyers today to schedule your initial consultation.