Taylor v. Johnston

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Taylor v. Johnston
Court California Supreme Court
Citation 539 P.2d 425, 15 Cal. 3d 130, 123 Cal. Rptr. 641
Date decided September 2, 1975

Facts

  • "Taylor" = a man who raised and raced horses = plaintiff
  • Taylor wanted to breed 2 of his mares (female horses)
  • Nasrullah = name of a stallion (male horse)
  • Johnston = owner of Nasrullah (the stallion) = defendant
  • Taylor & Johnson entered into 2 contracts: 1 for each mares to breed with the stallion
  • The contracts specified that the stallion would breed with each mare in 1966
  • However, in October 1965, Johnson sold his stallion to a 3rd party whereupon the stallion was shipped from California to Kentucky; consequently, it would have been impossible to perform the breeding in California with the 2 mares in 1966
  • Next, Johnston (stallion owner) Taylor (mares owner) about the sale
  • Taylor demanded that the stallion breed with the mares (even though the stallion was in Kentucky by then)
  • So, Johnston arranged for the 2 mares to meet the stallion in Kentucky
  • In January 1966, Taylor shipped his 2 mares to Kentucky for breeding
  • To complicate the matter, both mares were pregnant when they arrived in Kentucky & couldn't breed successfully until they have given births to their foals (young horses)
  • After 1 mare gave birth, arrangements couldn't be made for her to breed with the stallion in Kentucky
  • So, Taylor decided to breed his mare with another stallion (not Nasrullah) in Kentucky
  • When his 2nd mare gave birth, Taylor once again tried to arrange breeding with the Stallion Nasrullah without success; so, Taylor bred his 2nd mare with another stallion in Kentucky

Procedural History

  • Taylor sued Johnston back in California for breach of contract.
  • Taylor was awarded over $100,000 in damages.

Issues

May a promisor's repudiation of a contract before the time that performance is due be nullified?

Holding

Yes. A promisor's repudiation of a contract may be nullified if the non-breeding party disregards the repudiation & the promisor retracts the repudiation prior to the time that performance is due.


There was no anticipatory breach of the contract in Kentucky. Even though Johnston was citing scheduling problems that made it difficult to schedule breeding withe 2 mares, Johnston hadn't expressly refuse to make his stallion un-available.

Judgment

Reversed

Reasons

  • The promisor (Johnston who owned the stallion) repudiated the contract ahead of time.
  • The Johnston retraction and reluctant agreement to allow his stallion to breed with the 2 mares in Kentucky nullified Johnston's repudiation of the contract.

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