When businesses or individuals in California and around the country are sued for failing to honor the terms of a legally binding agreement, the lawsuits are based on an alleged partial, material or total breach of contract. A partial breach, which is also known as an immaterial breach, occurs when the terms of the contract are fulfilled but one of the parties involved acted in a way that was not in accordance with the terms of the agreement. An example of a partial breach could be including a few defective items in a large order. The injured party in this situation would be entitled to compensation, but the agreement would likely still stand.
Material breach of contract
A material breach of contract occurs when one of the parties fails to meet provisions that the rest of the agreement relies on. An example of a material breach would be a large order that was made up entirely of defective items. In these situations, the injured party may be entitled to compensation and released from any remaining obligations.
Total breach of contract
A total breach of contract occurs when one of the parties fails to fulfill any of its obligations under the agreement. An example of a total breach would be failing to send any items to fill a large order. While the remedies for a total breach of contract are often the same as the remedies for a material breach of contract, the losses suffered by the injured party and the compensation it is entitled to may be higher.
Defenses in breach of contract lawsuits
There are various defenses that an attorneys with experience litigating contract disputes may mount when their clients are accused of breaching the terms of an agreement. They could argue that fulfilling the terms was made impossible by an act of god if the contract includes a force majeure clause, or they could claim the agreement was breached because its terms were grossly unfair. Attorneys could also assert that their client was induced into entering into the agreement fraudulently or that a fundamental part of the contract was based on a misunderstanding or mistake.