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Totem Marine Tug & Barge, Inc. v. Alyeska Pipeline Service Co.

Alaska Supreme Court
584 P.2d 15 (1978)


Facts

Totem Marine Tug & Barge, Inc. (Totem) (plaintiff) entered into a contract with Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. (Alyeska) (defendant), whereby it agreed to transport pipeline construction materials from Texas to Alaska. Totem chartered a barge in order to perform under the contract. Performance was due August 15. While performing, Totem experienced numerous delays. By September 14, Totem had not yet reached Alaska. Alyeska terminated the contract. Following termination, Totem began pressing Alyeska for payment. Alyeska told Totem that it did not know when payment would be made and that it could take as long as six to eight months. Totem was facing financial trouble, including possible bankruptcy. Totem informed Alyeska of its financial situation. Alyeska acknowledged that it owed the amount due according to Totem’s invoices, but settled with Totem for approximately one third of that amount. In exchange for the settlement, Totem released Alyeska from all claims. Totem filed suit against Alyeska, seeking to rescind the settlement and release due to economic duress and recover money owed under the invoices. Alyeska filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the release precluded Totem’s claim. The trial judge granted Alyeska’s motion. Totem appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Burke, J.)

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