In our last blog post about contract law, we wrote about the interpretation of written contracts in Kansas, discussing the importance of the parties’ intent and the legal concept of ambiguity. That post is fundamental in building a person’s understanding of Kansas contract law. We continue with the basics of Kansas contract law in this post, focusing on the concept of breach, something that affects individuals and businesses alike.
In case there were any doubt, let it be known that breach of contract cases are relatively common and do not necessarily put into question the reputation of the breaching party. At times, both individuals and businesses do not agree on the meaning of an agreement or simply cannot perform their obligations due to unforeseen circumstances, such as the outbreak of the coronavirus. Breaches of contract are not like crimes of moral turpitude that involve great bodily harm, violations of basic duties owed to a fellow man, or other conduct malicious in nature that results in the shocking of the public conscience.
Let us look at what the Kansas Supreme Court has to say about what legally constitutes a breach of contract in the state of Kansas. “The elements of a breach of contract claim are: (1) the existence of a contract between the parties; (2) sufficient consideration to support the contract; (3) the plaintiff’s performance or willingness to perform in compliance with the contract; (4) the defendant’s breach of the contract; and (5) damages to the plaintiff caused by the breach.” Stechschulte v. Jennings, 297 Kan. 2, 24, 298 P.3d 1083, 1098 (Kan. 2013) (citing Commercial Credit Corporation v. Harris, 212 Kan. 310, 313, 510 P.2d 1322 (1973)).
If a breach of contract dispute were to be placed in the hands of a Kansas district court judge, said judge would individually consider each of the five aforementioned essential elements of a claim for breach of contract. It is the role of the plaintiff, or the party bringing the lawsuit, to prove all five of said elements.
Questions abound. How does a person know if a contract exists, especially if promises between the parties were only made orally? What does “consideration” mean and how much is needed? What sort of damages have to be present, and in what amount, in order to satisfy the fifth required element of the claim? All of these questions are reasonable, and we hope to answer them in one or more future blog posts.
Here at Kincaid Business & Entrepreneurial Law, LLC ®, we regularly advise individuals and businesses on contract law issues. We can help determine whether there has been a breach of contract, defend an accusation of a breach, negotiate a settlement, or fight for a person’s or business’ rights in court or in a private mediation setting. Please contact us at 913-735-7707 or schedule with us here if we can be of service to you or your business.
Matthew T. Kincaid