STEWART M. MULLER CONSTR. CO., INC. v. NEW YORK TEL. CO.


40 N.Y.2d 955 (1976)

Stewart M. Muller Construction Company, Inc., et al., Appellants, v. New York Telephone Company, Respondent.

Court of Appeals of the State of New York.

Decided November 18, 1976.


Attorney(s) appearing for the Case

Jonathan L. Rosner for appellants.

Arnold I. Roth for respondent.

Chief Judge BREITEL and Judges JASEN, GABRIELLI, JONES, WACHTLER, FUCHSBERG and COOKE concur.


MEMORANDUM.

The order of the Appellate Division should be affirmed. A contract may be voided on the ground of economic duress where the complaining party was compelled to agree to its terms by means of a wrongful threat which precluded the exercise of its free will. (Austin Instrument v Loral Corp., 29 N.Y.2d 124, 130; Oleet v Pennsylvania Exch. Bank, 285 App Div 411.) Here, plaintiff alleged that the settlement agreement was induced by defendant's threat to terminate their earlier contract. The amended complaint and the affidavit in opposition to the motion to dismiss fail to allege that the defendant was not within its contractual rights in threatening to exercise the termination clause contained in the contract. Rather, it appears that the defendant, in the context of contractual dispute, preserved its rights by following the letter of the termination clause, while at the same time seeking an accommodation with the financially hard-pressed plaintiff. In view of the explicit provisions of the termination clause, which gave defendant the right to cancel the contract upon an architect's certificate of substantial breach, there is no possibility that the plaintiff could present evidence which would establish that the defendant's threatened cancellation was in excess of its contractual rights and, hence, was wrongful. The only reasonable inference that can be drawn from the complaint and the affidavits is that the plaintiff is unable to prevail.

Order affirmed, with costs, in a memorandum.


Comment

1000 Characters Remaining

Leagle.com reserves the right to edit or remove comments but is under no obligation to do so, or to explain individual moderation decisions.

User Comments

Listed below are the cases that are cited in this Featured Case. Click the citation to see the full text of the cited case. Citations are also linked in the body of the Featured Case.

Cited Cases

  • No Cases Found

Listed below are those cases in which this Featured Case is cited. Click on the case name to see the full text of the citing case.

Citing Cases