Logourl black

Chase Precast Corp. v. John J. Paonessa Co.

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
566 N.E.2d 603 (1991)


The Massachusetts government entered into two contracts with Paonessa (defendant) for resurfacing and improving highways and replacing the grass median strips with concrete surfacing and median barriers. Paonessa entered into contracts with Chase (plaintiff) under which Chase was to supply the median barriers. When the highway project began, Massachusetts began receiving complaints about the removal of the grass median strip from residents, who subsequently filed an action in court to halt the project. Expecting that Massachusetts would have to change the contract in light of the litigation, Paonessa asked Chase to stop producing the barriers, and Chase did so, though it had already produced about one-half the order and had delivered most to the site. Paonessa paid for all barriers produced. As a result of the litigation, Massachusetts deleted the median barriers item from the contracts with Paonessa. Chase brought an action to recover its anticipated profit on the balance of the barriers called for by the contracts. Paonessa brought a cross action against Massachusetts for indemnification in the event it should be held liable to Chase. The Superior Court judge ruled for Paonessa on the basis of impossibility of performance. Chase and Paonessa cross-appealed. The Appeals Court affirmed but noted that the doctrine of frustration of purpose more accurately supported the judge’s decision. Chase appealed.

Rule of Law

The rule of law is the black letter law upon which the court rested its decision. To access this section, start your 7-day free trial of Quimbee for Law Students.


The issue section includes the dispositive legal issue in the case phrased as a question. To access this section, start your 7-day free trial of Quimbee for Law Students.

Holding and Reasoning (Lynch, J.)

The holding and reasoning section includes:

  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

To access this section, start your 7-day free trial of Quimbee for Law Students.

Here's why 90,000 law students rely on our case briefs:

  • Reliable - written by law professors and practitioners not other law students.
  • The right length and amount of information - includes the facts, issue, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
  • Access in your class - works on your mobile and tablet.
  • 12,195 briefs - keyed to 164 casebooks.
  • Uniform format for every case brief.
  • Written in plain English - not in legalese and not just repeating the court's language.
  • Massive library of related video lessons - and practice questions.
  • Ability to tag case briefs in an outlining tool.
  • Top-notch customer support.
Start Your Free Trial Now