Tuesday, December 3, 2013

CNA & American Casualty v. Arlyn Phoenix case brief

CNA & American Casualty v. Arlyn Phoenix case brief summary
678 So. 2D 378 (1996)


CASE SYNOPSIS
Appellant insurers challenged a decision of the Circuit Court for Alachua County (Florida) to dismiss their claims for breach of two actor loanout agreements because the actor died, making performance impossible. Appellants claimed that the defense of impossibility of performance did not apply because the impossibility was not unavoidable, but was the result of a massive intentional drug overdose, making the actor at fault for the impossibility.

CASE FACTS
Appellants issued policies to film finance companies to insure an actor's performance in two films, then paid benefits to the companies after the actor died of a drug overdose. Appellants then sued appellee, representative of the actor's estate, claiming that the actor breached two actor loanout agreements by taking a massive drug overdose, depriving the companies of his services. Appellee moved to dismiss appellants' complaints, claiming that there was no breach because the actor's death made the agreements impossible to perform. The trial court granted appellee's motion to dismiss. Appellants challenged the decision, claiming that impossibility of performance did not apply because the actor's death was not unavoidable but was the result of an intentional drug overdose, making the actor at fault for the impossibility.

DISCUSSION

  • The appellate court affirmed the trial court's decision that impossibility of performance applied. Nothing in the facts warranted departure from the clear and unambiguous rule that death rendered a personal service contract impossible to perform. 
  • Additionally, the parties to the agreements could have provided for loss due to illegal drug use, but did not do so.

CONCLUSION
The appellate court affirmed a trial court's decision to dismiss appellant insurers' claims for breach of two actor loanout agreements on the ground that the agreements, personal service contracts, were rendered impossible to perform due to the actor's death. The appellate court held that although the actor's death was due to a massive intentional drug overdose, the defense of impossibility of performance still applied.

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