« Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit withdraws Feb. 27th opinion | Main | Ind. Law - This week at the General Assembly - Week 8 »

Monday, March 02, 2009

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit considers doctrine of impossibility in Wisconsin opinion

Wis. Electric Power Company v. Union Pacific RR is a 13-page opinion by Judge Posner that begins:

WEPCO, an electric utility that is the plaintiff in this diversity suit for breach of contract (governed by Wisconsin law), appeals from the grant of summary judgment to the defendant, the Union Pacific railroad. The contract was for the transportation of coal to WEPCO from coal mines in Colorado between the beginning of 1999 and the end of 2005. The appeal presents two issues: whether a force majeure clause in the contract authorized the railroad to increase its rate for ship- ping the coal, and whether the railroad breached its duty of good-faith performance of its contractual obligations by failing to ship the tonnage requested by WEPCO on railcars supplied by the railroad.

The doctrine of impossibility in the common law of contracts excuses performance when it would be unreasonably costly (and sometimes downright impossible) for a party to carry out its contractual obligations.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 2, 2009 01:47 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions