General

Procedural Posture

The Superior Court of Los Angeles County (California) granted a new trial on the issue of damages in an action brought by appellant tenant against appellee landlord for breach of contract.

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Overview

The tenant agreed to rent certain property and, pursuant to a contract between the parties, the landlord agreed to construct a bowling alley on the premises which would be occupied by the tenants. When the landlord stopped construction before completion and thereby breached the contract, the tenant brought the current action and sought specific performance. The trial court refused to award specific performance, but awarded damages in favor of the tenant based on the reduced rental value of the property and the cost of completing the project. The landlord filed a motion for a new trial on the issue of damages and the trial court granted the motion. The tenant challenged that ruling and, on appeal, the court addressed whether or not the damage award was contrary to law. On that issue, the court found the damage award proper and based on uncontradicted testimony of the tenant’s experts. Although future detriment to the tenant was inherently incapable of ascertainment within the degree of certainty, the court found the method assigned to estimate such damages practicable and fair, and held that the damages assessed were as reasonably accurate as the circumstances permitted.

Outcome

The trial court order granting a new trial was reversed.