Colorado Law says there are four elements to a breach of contract claim that the plaintiff must prove:
- The existence of a contract;
- Some substantial performance by the plaintiff (or legal excuse for not performing);
- Failure to perform the contract by the defendant; AND
- Resulting in damages to the plaintiff.
Each element of a breach of contract case has comprehensive case law and nuances.
ELEMENT 1: THE EXISTENCE OF A CONTRACT
The components of a valid contract are (1) offer, (2) acceptance, and (3) consideration. These components mean that one of the parties made an offer that was accepted by another.
This requires that the offer not be countered or rejected; it must be fully accepted. Consideration requires that both parties receive something of value out of the contract.
In most cases, contracts can be written, oral, or both. In other words, not all contracts need to be written. Colorado law has approximately two dozen types of contracts that fall under the statute of fraud, with the most common being:
- Sale of real estate
- Leases that last longer than a year
- Sale of goods for the price of $500 or more
- Prenuptial or postnuptial agreements
- Credit agreements
- Any contract that cannot be performed within one year
ELEMENT 2: SOME SUBSTANTIAL PERFORMANCE BY THE PLAINTIFF
The plaintiff must demonstrate that they substantially fulfilled their essential contractual obligations. The court determines whether the defendant received the contract’s benefits to determine whether the plaintiff “substantially” completed them. Having a skilled Denver business lawyer on your side will make it easier to gather and present concise evidence demonstrating the plaintiff’s performance and the benefit to the defendant.
ELEMENT 3: FAILURE TO PERFORM BY THE DEFENDANT
The plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant failed to fulfill their essential contractual obligations to satisfy the third element. The limited circumstances under which defendants cannot function without being held liable are referred to as “defenses.”
ELEMENT 4: DAMAGES FOR THE PLAINTIFF
The plaintiff must demonstrate damage for the final element. Damages are any loss the plaintiff suffers as a result of the defendant’s breach of the contract’s promises. A plaintiff might be unlikely to prevail in a lawsuit unless there are some quantifiable damages, even if the contract was completely broken.
Plaintiffs in Colorado can only seek damages that were the probable consequence of the defendant’s breach of contract. According to Colorado law, a plaintiff’s damages should put them in the same position they would have been in had the contract been completed.
While a plaintiff may be able to demonstrate that the defendant broke the contract, they may not be able to quantify their losses, if any. The law in Colorado allows for the award of relatively insignificant damages in these circumstances.
Plaintiffs in Colorado have the option of seeking specific performance as an alternative to monetary damages. The court will require the defendant to fulfill their contractual obligations through specific performance. Specific performance is an extraordinary remedy that is generally only used when monetary damages are insufficient to right the breach at issue.
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If you are having any business issues, whether it be litigation or transactional, it is important to speak with a Denver business attorney. To speak with one, contact Baker Law Group today.