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Raw Materials, Inc. v. Manfred Forberich GmbH & Co

United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
2004 WL 1535839 (2004)


Facts

Manfred Forberich GmbH & Co. (Forberich) (defendant), a German company, contracted to sell and deliver from a Russian port several thousand tons of used Russian railroad rail to Raw Materials, Inc. (RMI) (plaintiff), an Illinois company, by June 30, 2002. In June 2002, Forberich asked for an extension of the delivery date. RMI orally agreed, although the exact terms of the extension were later disputed. When Forberich failed to deliver the rails, RMI brought a suit for breach of contract and moved for summary judgment. Forberich asserted a force majeure affirmative defense, arguing that the failure to deliver the rails should be excused because Forberich could not ship the rails due to the unexpected freezing of the Russian port around December 1, 2002. RMI contended that the port did not freeze until mid-December. Because a ship would take approximately three to four weeks to reach the United States from Russia, RMI argued that in order for Forberich to reach the deadline, Forberich would have had to ship the rail in the beginning of December, which meant that the freezing of the port could not have prevented performance. RMI and Forberich agreed that the port did not ordinarily freeze until the end of January, and even then, ice breakers allowed the movement of shipments through the port. However, Forberich asserted that the winter of 2002 brought unforeseen ice conditions and the worst weather in decades, rendering the ice breakers useless.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Filip, J.)

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  • A "yes" or "no" answer to the question framed in the issue section;
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  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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