Established 1958 ~ Hardball Business Litigation & Complex Negotiations

Letters And Phone Calls Regarding Intent To Not Follow Agreement

Enough To Find Anticipatory Breach Of Contract

In General Diversifield, Inc. v. Poole Truck Line, Inc., 1991 WL 53673 (E.D. Pa 1991) General Diversified (“Diversified”), a motor carrier broker, sued Poole Truck Lines (“Poole”), a motor carrier of freight, for Poole’s anticipatory breach of contract, because of its intent to not provide transportation of solid waste for a Diversified customer, as required in an agreement between Diversified and Poole.

Four days after signing the agreement, the Regional Sales Manager of Poole discovered that one of Poole’s main competitors was hauling waste for Diversified at a higher rate than Poole had agreed to (allowing the competitor to make more money than Poole). After complaining about the price difference, Poole’s Manager sent a letter to Diversified stating that they were left with “no other choice than to cancel our agreement” and “the atmosphere is not just one in which I nor Poole can do business.” Poole’s Manager also contacted Diversified customer that Poole was to do work for under the agreement, and informed them “the deal was off” and “Poole would not haul [the customer’s waste] on behalf of [Diversified].”

The District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania held that these facts were sufficient to prove anticipatory breach of the agreement by Poole. The Court explained that between the letter and the phone conversation by Poole’s Manager, Poole made the decision not to haul under the terms of the agreement prior to the date on which performance was due, and communicated this to Diversified unequivocally. To make Diversified whole, the Court awarded damages to Diversified in the amount of its lost profits on loads hauled for its customer in the time Poole was to be hauling such loads.

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