In the case of Landry v. Edwards, the facts clearly demonstrate that the only appropriate remedy for Landry is specific performance of the contract as both parties initially agreed. Through the examination of the contract made between Landry and Edwards, and understanding of what comprises a contact and the necessity of specific performance, and a consideration of relevant case findings, the Court will clearly recognize the need to compel Edwards to perform specific actions in order to satisfy his obligation to Landry.
The case of Landry v. Edwards regards a simple contract to purchase and relocate a storage shed. Edwards built the storage shed in question, but agreed to sell it to Landry, whose hilly backyard would be the ideal setting for the one-of-a-kind shed. Edwards also agreed to move the storage shed from his own backyard to Landry’s, and to properly secure it there. Edwards has not performed on the contract, and his storage shed business has gone out of business. Simply put, Landry has purchased the storage shed, which Edwards has failed to deliver and install.
A contract is an agreement between two or more parties, made orally or in writing, where one or more party incurs the obligation to perform a particular activity in exchange for the consideration of one or more party. In the case at hand, Landry has purchased – or provided consideration – to Edwards, who is now under the obligation to move and install a storage shed. Therefore, the elements of a contract in order for it to be legally enforceable have been met. The first elements are an offer, an acceptance and consideration. In this case, Landry has offered provide financial consideration to purchase a storage shed from Edwards, and Edwards has accepted. There is no evidence offered that a meeting of the minds did not occur; rather both parties agreed upon a particular storage shed and upon the fact that Edwards will move and secure that shed, which remains in Edwards’ backyard. There is also no evidence offered that either party lacked the competency to enter into a contract. As all elements have been satisfied, the Court can infer the legality of this contract.
Landry requests that the Court require Edwards to specifically undertake the action of moving the storage shed and securing it at its new location. Although the Court may provide for other remedies, such as refunds or fines, instead of specific performance, those would not be adequate in this case. Under the law, the Court can mandate that Edwards specifically undertake the duties that he promised to fulfill within his contract with Landry. Specific performance is applicable in cases where the property is so unique that other remedies would fall short of making the innocent party whole. Because the object in question in Landry v. Edwards is a hand made one-of-a-kind storage shed that is specifically suited to Landry’s property, it can be considered unique and thus eligible for the enforcement of specific performance.
The Restatement (Second) of Contracts acknowledges in §366, Effect of Difficulty in Enforcement or Supervision, that the Court may face an undue burden due to the compelling of specific performance in order to satisfy a contract. In this case, however, no under burden would be felt. As stated in §366, “Supervision may be required for an extended period of time.” However, the period of time necessary for Edwards to move and install this storage shed is estimated to be only one day.
As precedent, the Court may look to Severson v. Elberon Elevator, Inc., where the Iowa Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s decision to compel specific performance in the purchase of a grain elevator. In the case of Severson v. Elberon Elevator, Inc., all parties agreed that Severson would purchase a grain elevator from Elberon Elevator for a sum of $50,000, through an oral contract. Although the defendant argued that only preliminary discussions were held and no contract was made, the Court found that both parties intended to be bound by the terms as they were discussed and agreed upon. The connection between Severson v. Elberon Elevator, Inc. lies in the transfer of unique nature of the property, as well as in the possibility of the agreement between Landry and Edwards having been oral.
Emphasizing the applicability of specific performance, the Iowa Supreme Court said:
Specific performance is available when the contract involves property which is unique or possesses special value, i.e., pretium affectionis. Real estate is assumed to possess the necessary quality. Courts assume that money damages do not constitute an adequate remedy for the break of a real estate contract and grant specific performance without an actual showing of inadequancy of the legal remedy. Severson
Edwards has argued that damages should be seen as adequate remedy in this case, rather than specific performance, because his storage shed business is defunct and he has moved on to explore other career avenues. The Court must therefore consider whether he would be financially able to satisfy any type of monetary damages, due to his bankrupt business and the financial challenge of pursuing higher education in order to change careers. This presents the further reason for the Court to consider mandating specific performance.
The Court may also look to the finding in Yonan v. Oak Park Federal Savings by the Illinois Court of Appeals, as it differs from the circumstances in the case at hand and so in applying a different remedy. In Yonan v. Oak Park Federal Savings, Oak Park agreed to construct a building in exchange for receiving another property. The Court in that case found that it was more appropriate to assign damages rather than compel action, as it would be:
…impossible due to the inability of the trial court to adequately superintend performance. Inevitably further supplemental proceedings would be necessary and protracted litigation would be further extended. Yonan
Unlike the case in Yonan, the supervision necessary to compel specific performance in Landry would not be overwhelming because the moving and securing of the storage shed would necessitate only one day of work, whereas the building of a building in Yonan would take an far longer amount of time and create a far large burden of supervision.
Finally, the Court may also consider the case of Goldblatt Bros., Inc. v. Addison Green Meadows, Inc. In this case, Goldblatt leases property from Addison Green Meadows, and as a term of that lease, Addison Green Meadows agreed to construct an appropriate parking lot. Although Addison Green Meadows has blacktopped some areas of the parking lot, it has not done so in all areas surrounding the Goldblatt store, making it difficult for Goldblatt customers to conduct their business. The Illinois Court of Appeals found that Goldblatt has substantially benefitted from the work already completed, and so did not compel specific performance. Unlike Goldblatt, however, Landry has had no opportunity to benefit from the storage shed purchased from Edwards, as it remains in his backyard.
Edwards may argue that Landry can use any applied damages to hire another contractor to move and install the shed. Landry, however, has been unable to find any other contractor who is willing to do so. Edwards may also argue that Landry has the opportunity to purchase a different storage shed and install it himself. This would not provide the same benefit to Landry, however, as the uniquely designed and constructed shed that has already been purchased.
In conclusion, the Court must find that specific performance is the only remedy that will provide the full benefit of the contract to Landry as Edwards has originally agreed to enter. First, a valid contract clearly exists. Second, no undue burden would be placed upon the Court to supervise the specific action of moving and securing the storage shed. Third, the finding in Severson v. Elberon Elevator, Inc., clearly supports a similar finding of specific performance in the case at hand. In addition, the facts in Yonan v. Oak Park Federal Savings and Goldblatt Bros., Inc. v. Addison Green Meadows, Inc. are clearly differentiated from the facts of Yandry v. Edwards and so the findings should be differentiated as well. And finally, Edwards can offer no sufficient argument as to how any other finding than specific performance could provide the same benefit to Yandry.
Goldblatt Bros., Inc. v. Addison Green Meadows, Inc., 290 N.E. 2d 715 (Ill. App. 1972).
Restatement (Second) of Contracts § 366 (1981).
Severson v. Elberon Elevator, Inc., 250 N.W. 2d 17 (Iowa Sup. Ct. 1977).
Yonan v. Oak Park Federal Savings, 326 N.E. 2d 773 (Ill. App. 1975).