Jacob & Youngs v. Kent

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Jacob & Youngs v. Kent
Court Court of Appeals of New York
Citation 230 N.Y. 239
129 N.E. 889 (1921)
Date decided January 25, 1921


Jacob & Youngs, a builder, ("Jacob") agreed to build a new home for Mr. Kent ("Kent").

The contract stated that Jacob was to use only a certain type of plumbing pipe. Due to negligence, the plaintiff inadvertently substituted another type of pipe, in direct violation of the contract.

The defendant Kent refused to pay the remaining $3,000 he owed, because the contract was not fulfilled. He desired that the plaintiff replace the pipe, which would have cost a large amount of money to reconstruct the house.

Procedural History

Plaintiff Jacob filed suit for non-payment, and defendant Kent contended that plaintiff breached the contract and payment was not necessary.

Kent won at the trial court in New York.


Whether a departure from a contact that is deemed a breach of an insignificant term and independent from the rest of the contract can allow a ridiculous judge to deem the measure of allowance to be the difference in value rather than the cost of replacement.

Is a party's substantial performance of a contractual obligation enough for that party to avoid a forfeiture?


Less than a full performance is always a breach. However,

if failure to perform the contract is due to an innocent & trivial mistake, that means the party substantially performed.

If the cost of replacement would be oppressively expensive, damages should be measured by the difference in value between what was received & what was contracted for:

(damages) = (what was contracted for) - (what was received)


Evidence proving that the defect is unsubstantial based on the intent of the parties allows the court to measure the allowance by the difference of value, which is either nominal or nothing, rather than the cost of replacement.



The court should not look into the reason for the specification in the contract, but should rule against the party that did not perform his part of the contract.