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Contract remedies serve to protect three different interests: an expectation interest (the benefit bargained for), a reliance interest (loss suffered by relying on the contract), and a restitution interest (benefit conferred on the promisor). In broad terms, specific performance addresses the expectation interest, monetary damages address all three, and restitution addresses the restitution interest.
The two general categories of remedies are legal and equitable. In the former category are compensatory, consequential, incidental, nominal, liquated, and (rarely) punitive damages. In the latter category—if legal remedies are inadequate—are specific performance, injunction, and restitution.
There are some limitations or restrictions on the availability of damages: they must pass the tests of foreseeability and certainty. They must be reasonably mitigated, if possible. And liquidated damages must be reasonable—not a penalty. In some situations, a person can lose the remedy of rescission—the power to avoid a contract—when the rights of third parties intervene. In some cases a person is required to make an election of remedies: to choose one remedy among several, and when the one is chosen, the others are not available any more.
Plaintiff, a grocery store, contracted with Defendant, a burglar alarm company, for Defendant to send guards to Plaintiff's premises and to notify the local police if the alarm was activated. The contract had this language: “It is agreed that the Contractor is not an insurer, that the payments here are based solely on the value of the service in the maintenance of the system described, that it is impracticable and extremely difficult to fix the actual damages, if any, which may proximately result from a failure to perform its services, and in case of failure to perform such services and a resulting loss, its liability shall be limited to $500 as liquidated damages, and not as a penalty, and this liability shall be exclusive.”
A burglary took place and the alarm was activated, but Defendant failed to respond promptly. The burglars left with $330,000. Is the liquidated damages clause—the limitation on Plaintiff’s right to recover—valid?
Contract remedies protect
A restitution interest is
When breach of contract caused no monetary loss, the plaintiff is entitled to
Damages attributable to losses that flow from events that do not occur in the ordinary course of events are
Restitution is available