Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Freund v. Washington Square Press case brief

Freund v. Washington Square Press case brief summary
314 N.E.2d 419 (1974)

Defendant appealed an order from the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court in the First Judicial Department (New York), which affirmed the trial court's judgment that awarded monetary damages to plaintiff for plaintiff's breach of contract claim against defendant.

Plaintiff and defendant had entered into a contract in which plaintiff was to receive royalties from the published work. Plaintiff completed the manuscript. The contract allowed defendant to terminate the agreement if the manuscript was unsuitable. Unless terminated, defendant was required to publish the manuscript within 18 months. Defendant did neither. Plaintiff sued, and the trial court awarded damages for the cost of the hardcover publication. The appellate division affirmed.


  • On appeal, the court held that the damages were not awarded based on what defendant saved by committing the breach. 
  • Damages were awarded based on the natural and probable consequences of the breach to plaintiff. In this case, plaintiff's injuries were that he was prevented from collecting royalties. 
  • Plaintiff had not contracted for the printing and binding of the books. 
  • As a result, the court reversed the award for monetary damages, and awarded plaintiff nominal damages since the damages from the loss of royalties were too speculative.
The court reversed the damages award because plaintiff had not contracted for an actual publication of his book and his only injury from the breach was that he had lost possible royalties from the publication that amounted to nominal damages since the loss of royalties were not ascertainable.

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