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Groves v. John Wunder Co.

Minnesota Supreme Court
286 N.W. 235 (1939)



S.J. Groves & Sons Company (Groves) (plaintiff) maintained a plant for processing gravel on the twenty-four acre plot of property it owned which contained stores of sand and gravel. John Wunder Co. (Wunder) (defendant) operated a similar business nearby and entered into a seven-year lease agreement with Groves. Under the lease, Wunder contracted for seven years’ right to excavate sand and gravel from Groves property and for the transfer of Groves’ screening plant. In exchange, Wunder paid Groves $105,000 and agreed to remove the soil displaced in the course of processing the sand and gravel to bring the grade of the property level with the roadway. Although not part of the written agreement, Wunder also benefitted from the lease because Groves was eliminated as a competitor in the sand and gravel industry. When Wunder breached the agreement by removing only the gravel and not the excess soil which left Groves’ property uneven and not at the agreed grade, the cost of completing this performance would have been over $60,000. Groves argued that this should be the measure of his damages. However, had Wunder performed as agreed, the value of the property would have been $12,160. The trial court determined damages as the difference between the property at the time of contracting and its value if Wunder had performed. Groves appealed on the issue of damages.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Stone, J.)

Dissent (Olson, J.)

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