Thursday, June 19, 2014

contracts - duty of good faith and fair dealing - damages

MyServiceForce v. American Home Shield – ED Pa. – June 17, 2014


Good faith and fair dealing

A claim for a breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing is a contract claim3 under which a plaintiff has to establish the following in order to succeed on its claim: “(1) the existence of a contract, (2) breach of the contract, and (3) damages which flow from the breach.” Life Care Ctrs. of Am., Inc. v. Charles Town Assocs. Ltd. P’ship, 79 F.3d 496, 514 (6th Cir. 1996). See also Sewer Auth. of City of Scranton v. Pa. Infrastructure Inv. Auth., 81 A.3d 1031, 1041-42 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2013) (“The elements of a breach of contract are (1) the existence of a contract, (2) a breach of the duty imposed by the contract and (3) damages resulting from the breach.” (quoting Orbisonia-Rockhill Joint Mun. Auth. v. Cromwell Twp., 978 A.2d 425, 428 (Pa. Cmmw. Ct. 2009))).

3  Under both Pennsylvania and Tennessee law, a claim for breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing is a breach of contract action. See McAllister v. Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd., Civ. A. No. 02-2393, 2003 WL 23192102, at *4 (E.D. Pa. Sept. 30, 2003) (citing Fraser v. Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co., 135 F. Supp. 2d 623, 643 (E.D. Pa. 2001); Blue Mountain Mushroom Co. v. Monterey Mushroom, Inc., 246 F. Supp. 2d 394, 400 (E.D. Pa. 2002)); see also Fountain Leasing, LLC v. Kloeber, Civ. A. No. 12-317, 2013 WL 4591622, at *4 (E.D. Tenn. Aug. 28, 2013) (stating that, under Tennessee law, a claim for breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing “serves as part of a breach of contract action rather than serving as a cause of action in and of itself.” (citing Lyons v. Farmers Ins. Exch., 26 S.W.3d 888, 894 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2000)).  

Damages
Moreover, in order to recover on its claim for breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing, a plaintiff must prove damages resulting from the alleged breach with reasonable certainty. See ATACS Corp. v. Trans World Commc’ns, Inc., 155 F.3d 659, 669 (3d Cir. 1998) (stating that the general rule in Pennsylvania is that the injured party must prove damages from breach of contract with reasonable certainty (citations omitted))….

There are three “theories of damages to remedy a breach of contract: ‘expectation’ damages, ‘reliance’ damages, and ‘restitution’ damages.” ATACS, 155 F.3d at 669 (citing Trosky v. Civil Serv. Comm’n, 652 A.2d 813, 817 (Pa. 1995); Restatement (Second) of Contracts § 344 (1981)); see also Trosky, 652 A.2d at 817 (noting that remedies for breach of contract “are designed to protect either a party’s expectation interest ‘by attempting to put him in as good a position as he would have been had the contract been performed’ . . . ; his reliance interest ‘by attempting to put him back in the position in which he would have been had the contract not been made’; or his restitution interest ‘[by requiring] the other party to disgorge the benefit he has received by returning it to the party who conferred it’” (quoting Restatement (Second) of Contracts, § 344, Comment a))….

 

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