Schnauzer Owner recently hired Dog Walker to walk his beloved pet schnauzer. Dog Walker and Schnauzer Owner agreed that their initial contract would last for one month. During that time, Dog Walker would walk the schnauzer twice per day for at least 30 minutes at a time. In exchange, Schnauzer Owner would pay Dog Walker $400. Dog Walker and Schnauzer Owner both signed a contract memorializing these terms. Dog Walker’s performance was to begin on September 1, two weeks after the date on which both parties signed the contract.
On August 27, however, Schnauzer Owner called Dog Walker to say that he no longer wished to engage her. Dog Walker protested, claiming (quite accurately) that she could not find a replacement client on such short notice. Schnauzer Owner replied that he had given Dog Walker’s phone number to a friend who was interested in her services.
Schnauzer Owner had indeed passed Dog Walker’s contact information to his friend Cockatiel Owner, but Cockatiel Owner did not have a dog in need of walking. Instead, Cockatiel Owner proposed that Dog Walker visit her home, twice per day, to let her pet cockatiel bird out of its cage for half an hour at a time, feed the bird, and clean its cage liner. Cockatiel Owner offered to pay Dog Walker the same as Schnauzer Owner would have, $400 for one month, but Dog Walker declined.
In the meantime, Dog Walker was partway through her contract with Poodle Owner, another client. Dog Walker had promised to walk Poodle Owner’s standard poodle once per day, for a total of six months. In exchange, Poodle Owner would pay Dog Walker $200 for each month, deliverable in one lump sum check at the end of the six-month period of the agreement.
During the fifth month of this agreement, however, Dog Walker was offered a starring role in a new reality television show; the show was to be about professional dog walkers who service celebrities. To appear on the show, Dog Walker had to relocate from New York City, where she then lived and worked, to Los Angeles, where the show was to be filmed.
Dog Walker thus notified Poodle Owner that she would terminate her services at the end of the fifth month of their contract. Poodle Owner objected, saying that he doubted he could find a replacement dog walker at the same price. His prediction proved true; although he did secure another dog walker’s services at the cheapest available rate, he paid the substitute walker $300 for that sixth month, rather than the $200 he would have paid Dog Walker.
Irate and disappointed, Poodle Owner refused to pay Dog Walker anything under their agreement. Poodle Owner argued that Dog Walker was the one who breached the contract, so Poodle Owner didn’t have to pay anything. Dog Walker has sued both Schnauzer Owner and Poodle Owner for breach of contract.
- Assume that a court finds that Schnauzer Owner breached his contract with Dog Walker by wrongly repudiating it. What will Dog Walker request in damages? What will Schnauzer Owner argue in response to Dog Walker’s request? What damages, if any, will the court award? Explain.
- Assume that a court finds that Dog Walker breached her contract with Poodle Owner by wrongly repudiating it. Is Dog Walker eligible to receive damages, and if so, how much? Explain.