Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Northern Indiana Public Service Co. v. Carbon County Coal Co. case brief

Northern Indiana Public Service Co. v. Carbon County Coal Co. case brief summary
799 F.2d 265 (1986)

Plaintiff-appellant sought review of a jury verdict from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Hammond Division, for damages for breach of contract for the purchase of coal from Defendant-appellee coal mine operator, who appealed the court's denial of specific performance of the contract.

Appellant electric utility contracted with appellee coal mine operator to purchase coal at a set price and quantity. The state public service commission ordered appellant to make "economy purchase orders" from other utilities. Appellant stopped accepting deliveries and sought a declaratory judgment to have contract performance excused. Appellee counterclaimed for breach of contract, seeking specific performance. The court awarded damages to appellee for the breach. Appellant sought review, alleging the court erred in refusing a continuance, that the contract was illegal because appellee violated Mineral Lands Leasing Act of 1920, 30 U.S.C.S. § 202, and that the economy purchase orders frustrated appellant's contract performance. Appellee challenged the denial of specific performance.

The court affirmed, holding that the court committed no error in denying the continuance, any violation of the statute was harmless, the frustration doctrine did not excuse performance of a fixed price contract, and the damage remedy was adequate.

Judgment for appellee coal mine operator for appellant electric utility's breach of contract for coal purchase affirmed because court did not err in denying continuance, frustration doctrine did not excuse performance of fixed price contract, any violation of Mineral Lands Leasing Act was harmless, and damage award was adequate remedy.

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