Rockingham County v. Luten Bridge Co.

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Rockingham County v. Luten Bridge Co.
Court Circuit Court of Appeals, 4th Circuit
Citation 35 F.2d 301 (1929)
Date decided 1929

Facts: Rockingham contracted with Luten to build a bridge. Later, Rockingham informed Luten that it didn't want the bridge built, but Luten had already started construction. Luten continued to build, even after having learned that Rockingham would breach.

Procedural History: District court awarded full amount of contract. Appealed to circuit court.

Issue: What should the damages be?


  1. Rockingham breached, and Luten used materials and resources to complete the bridge, so should be awarded the full amount.
  2. Luten should have ceased construction at the time that Rockingham informed that it would not pay.

Holding: Damages should be paid in the amount of the materials and resources spent previous to Rockingham's notification of breach to Luten, plus the amount of profit that Luten would have realized had the contract been fulfilled on both sides.

Reasons: Luten knew that the contract was in breach, yet it continued to build.

Judgment: Reversed.

RulesAfter an absolute repudiation or refusal to perform by one party to a contract, the other party cannot continue to perform and recover damages based on full performance.The plaintiff must, so far as he can without loss to himself, mitigate the damages caused by the defendant’s wrongful act.