A breach of contract claim can be very straightforward - one party fails to perform the unequivocal requirements of a valid written contract, and the other party suffers undisputed damages as a result of the failure to perform. Unfortunately, breach of contract cases are often far more complicated. There may be a dispute over whether or not an enforceable contractual agreement, not yet reduced to writing, was in fact reached between the parties. If so, there may be a dispute over whether the oral contractual agreement is enforceable or barred by the Statute of Frauds. Even if the contract has been reduced to writing and signed by the parties, the dispute may arise as to the meaning of certain provisions of the written agreement.
Damages recoverable in a breach of contract claim include actual damages, consequential damages and/or "benefit of the bargain" damages. The appropriate measure of damages depends on the facts and circumstances of each case. The plaintiff may also seek restitution instead of damages. When a person has been unjustly enriched at the expense of another, he may be compelled to make restitution. Generally, punitive damages are not awarded in breach of contract claims. Exceptions to the general rules include when the plaintiff proves an independent and willful tort (i.e. fraud) and when the breach of contract occurs along with the violation of a fiduciary duty.