Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Jones Associates v. Eastside Properties case brief

Jones Associates v. Eastside Properties case brief summary
704 P.2d 681 (1985)

Appellant engineering firm challenged the judgment of the Superior Court for King County (Washington) which dismissed its action against appellee developer for money due under a professional services contract and awarded the developer costs and attorney fees. At the end of the engineering firm's evidence, the trial court granted the developer's motion to dismiss the complaint. The engineering firm's reconsideration motion was denied.

Under the contract between the parties, the engineering firm was to provide a feasibility study, master plan, nine record surveys, and nine short plats for the developer's 180-acre land parcel. In dismissing the engineering firm's action for money due, the trial court stated that the dismissal was based upon its interpretation of the unambiguous contract language that obtaining county approval was a condition precedent to contractual payment, which condition had not been met.


  • On appeal, the court held that the provision was a promise rather than a condition precedent; thus dismissing the action was error. 
  • The court examined the entire contract, the circumstances surrounding the contract's formation, the parties' subsequent conduct, and the reasonableness of the parties' respective interpretations. 
  • The court then ruled that the parties intended the engineering firm's assumption of responsibility for obtaining county approval to be a duty under the contract but not a condition precedent to payment.
The court reversed the judgment, ruling that the trial court's interpretation of the contract between the parties was erroneous. The court remanded the case for determination of whether either party prevented the other from obtaining the full benefit of performance, and to recalculate damages.

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