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Machinery Hauling, Inc. v. Steel of West Virginia

West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals
384 S.E.2d 139 (1989)



Machinery Hauling, Inc. (Machinery) (plaintiff), a freight transporter, contracted with Steel of West Virginia (Steel) (defendant), a steel seller, for Machinery to transport 17 loads of Steel's steel to a third party. When the deliveries were almost complete, Steel told Machinery that the steel was defective and that the third party had rejected it. Steel requested that Machinery return the remaining undelivered loads of steel to Steel's plant. One of Steel's agents then allegedly told Machinery that if Machinery did not pay Steel $31,000 (the price of the undelivered loads), Steel would refuse to do future business with Machinery. The loss of Steel’s future business would cost Machinery approximately $1,000,000 per year. Machinery brought suit against Steel in West Virginia state court seeking damages based on Steel's "extortionate demands." The court certified questions to the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia about the effect of threats made by one party to a contract to induce concessions from the other party.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Miller, J.)

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