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Muldoon v. Lynch
Supreme Court of California
6 P. 417 (1885)
The plaintiffs contracted with the defendant to furnish and complete improvements to the defendant’s husband’s gravesite, including a monument made of marble that had to be imported from Italy. The defendant was to pay the plaintiffs $18,788. The contract called for the monument’s completion and installation within 12 months and contained a clause which provided for damages in the amount of ten dollars per day thereafter. The monument was bought in Italy well before the 12 months was up, but due to its size and weight, through no fault of the plaintiffs, its shipment was delayed two years. As soon as the monument arrived, it was set up in accordance with the specifications in the contract. However, it was set up late due to the late delivery, and the damages amounted to $7,820. The defendant refused to pay the plaintiffs the full contract price because of the clause and the late delivery. The plaintiffs brought suit. The trial court determined that the clause amounted to an invalid penalty rather than a liquidated damages clause and found in favor of the plaintiffs. The defendant appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Myrick, J.)
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