Impossibility of Performance As A Defense
A common source of construction disputes is an allegation of job abandonment. Typically, this allegation constitutes a breach of contract and may allow the owner to sue the contractor for compensation. At Cotney Construction Law, a reputable contractor attorney in Sarasota, FL, we are prepared to help contractors who are being sued for job abandonment.
Florida Statutes are very specific as to what qualifies as job abandonment. Under statute 489.129, “A project may be presumed abandoned after 90 days if the contractor terminates the project without just cause or without proper notification to the owner, including the reason for termination, or fails to perform work without just cause for 90 consecutive days.”
In order to defend themselves in court, contractors must be able to prove they had just cause for failing to perform work during the allotted timeframe. The doctrine of impossibility of performance is a common defense that Sarasota contractor attorneys may use.
What is It?
The doctrine of impossibility of performance applies when uncontrollable circumstances have made the contract impossible or impracticable to carry out. Impracticable is defined as something that can only be done at an excessive and unreasonable cost. This doctrine relies heavily on three very important key factors:
- An unexpected event must have occurred to keep work from being completed for 90 consecutive days.
- The contractor must have had no prior knowledge that this event was going to occur and began the contract anyway.
- The event must have made completing the work impracticable.
All three of these factors must be met in order for the plea to be successful in court.
Application of the Doctrine
The courts have deemed the impossibility of performance plea as an appropriate defense for certain circumstances. These typically include:
- Weather conditions prevent performance, such as excessive storms, lightning or snow;
- A government entity makes performing the contract illegal through a newly passed law;
- An injury occurs to a pivotal worker who cannot be replaced;
- Property that is considered valuable or irreplaceable is destroyed, lost, or stolen;
- A natural disaster makes the delivery of goods impossible.
While these factors may not fully prevent work from being performed, they can bring another legal issue called frustration into the case. Frustration occurs when the overall purpose of a contract is negated or frustrated. This means that work might be able to continue, but doing so would not truly benefit either party in the contract.
A claim of job abandonment is one of several breach of contract claims that property owners can file against a contractor. If an allegation of breach of contract due to job abandonment has been brought against you, please seek help from a Sarasota contractor lawyer at Cotney Construction Law. We have the knowledge and experience you need to help your case.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.