United States v. Behan,
110 U.S. 338 (1884)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Behan, 110 U.S. 338 (1884)

United States v. Behan

Submitted December 18, 1883

Decided February 4, 1884

110 U.S. 338


When one party enters upon the performance of a contract and incurs expense therein, and being willing to perform, is, without fault of his own, prevented by the other party from performing, his loss will consist of two distinct items of damage: 1st, his outlay and expenses, less the value of materials

Page 110 U. S. 339

on hand; 2d, the profits he might have realized by performance, which profits are related to the outlays and include them and something more. The first item he may recover in all cases unless the other party can show the contrary, and the failure to prove profits will not prevent him from recovering it. The second he may recover when the profits are the direct fruit of the contract and not too remote or speculative.

In an action for breach of a contract by wrongfully putting an end to it, the party committing the wrong is estopped from denying that the other party has been damaged to the extent of his actual loss and outlay fairly incurred.

If, in a suit in the Court of Claims for breach of contract by the United States by preventing the petitioner from performing his contract, the petition prays judgment for damages arising from the loss of profits and also for outlay and expenses, the petitioner may recover for such part of the outlay and expenses as he may prove, although he may fail to establish that there would have been any profits.

If a party injured by the stoppage of a contract elects to rescind the contract, he cannot recover either for outlay or for loss of profits, but only for the value of services actually performed, as upon a quantum meruit.

The case is stated in the opinion of the Court.

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