Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Simmons Foods, Inc. v. Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc. case brief

Simmons Foods, Inc. v. Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc. case brief summary
270 F.3d 723, 45 UCC Rep. Serv. 2d 1055 (2001)

Plaintiff pet food supplier challenged a grant of summary judgment by the United States District Court for the Western District of Arkansas in favor of defendant pet food producer in a breach of contract action.

The supplier contracted to provide pet food meal, which was the main ingredient of the pet food producer's product. The supplier sued claiming that the producer breached the last two years of an alleged three-year contract. The supplier also claimed that the producer orally promised a long-term business relationship and sought to recover the value of business improvements made in reliance on that promise.


  • The appellate court upheld the district court's decision that there was no enforceable three-year contract because the writing contained no quantity terms for those years. 
  • The alleged oral promises of a long-term relationship were barred by the parol evidence rule, because the supplier subsequently entered into written one-year contracts with the producer. 
  • Furthermore, one of the express terms included in the written contract was the length of time, but the parol evidence rule specifically disallowed oral evidence to prove terms that were included in the written agreement. 
  • Thus, both the breach of contract and the promissory estoppel claim were denied.
The district court's grant of summary judgment was upheld.

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